Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Garden Year in Review

End of July 2014
“Every garden has the potential for perfection because it will never be finished, because the elements that make it a garden … are in constant flux and you can never step into the same garden twice.” --  Frank Ronan

My 2014 garden peaked at the end of July, late but lovely, with an abundance of cleome that I planted to replace the diseased purple cone flowers.  The cleome, meant to be a stopgap while waiting for the newly planted bee balm to fill out, will undoubtedly reseed itself everywhere -- a good thing as the bee balm succumbed to powdery mildew, so I yanked it out. I enjoyed several gardening successes (such as the cleome) and some disappointments (like the bee balm) but all-in-all it was a great gardening year.

The year began with the customary seed starting. I sowed trays of annuals and vegetables in the house, eventually moving them to the potting shed, then into the garden after the last frost date. All thrived, especially the snapdragons. It was an excellent year for snapdragons.

I organize my seeds according to the date they need sowing
Snapdragon Antirrhinum 'Cinderella Mix'

As soon as the ground was no longer frozen, I began my biggest project for 2014, reworking the small round bed at the foot of the deck. Gooseneck loosestrife had crowded out other plants, therefore it had to go.

Gooseneck Loosestrife Lysimachia clethroides

I took the opportunity to expand the flowerbed and to plant native plants - non-aggressive ones, of course.  The resulting new Horseshoe Garden is the topic of my next posting. It is too early to say if the horseshoe bed is a success as a whole, but the snapdragons I planted at the front edge were stunning and I intend to grow them from seed again next year.

Horseshoe garden in the spring

Spring was late, and so very welcome!...

The spring cottage garden was pretty with foxgloves and peonies.

I lost roses to the harsh winter. The yellow Knockout was the only prolific survivor, but Japanese beetles consumed most of the blooms. Roses are such a challenge in this area.

With the late-July peaking of the cottage garden, the pond came into its own. The water stayed very clear all season, because of the cool weather. Also, we shaded the pond with a beautiful lotus plant. I love those big, umbrella leaves. Hopefully, it will flower next year if we are successful with its overwintering.

Sacred lotus Nelumbo nucifera

The cottage garden, which my grandson calls 'Octupus's Garden,' provided winning blooms for the West End Fair. I won several first place ribbons for flowers, produce and displays.

The kitchen garden produced vegetables through to December

On the down side, powdery mildew was rampant, infecting several blooms and vegetables.

Phlox and Beebalm were infected with powdery mildew

I did not see many monarch butterflies in my garden this year, although I planted more milkweed. I do hope 2015 will see their return.

A rare visitor.

New for 2014 were the miniature gardens my grandson and I created. We plan more for next year.

New for 2015 and some challenges:

In addition to more fairy gardens, there will be new spring flowers, as I planted 200+ bulbs. Daffodils will greet you on each side of the path to the front door. Hopefully, there will be tulips and crocuses in the entry garden -- if the squirrels didn't get all of them. Also, I planted alliums in the cottage garden.

There will be daffodils each side of the path next spring.

There are a couple of challenges: 

First, we now have a large, ugly, whole-house generator in the stone garden. I am so happy to have the generator for when/if another hurricane hits and knocks the power out, but I need to find some way to disguise it. Maybe plantings, picket fencing or pots of flowers? There's not much space there, so I don't yet know what I'm going to do. 

Secondly, a skunk knocked over the 'naked lady' (as my grandchildren called the statue) in the shade garden and it smashed into small pieces. I'm fairly certain it was a skunk because some creature had pushed over a large pumpkin I placed nearby and the pumpkin had a hole in it shaped like holes a skunk makes. Also, the lawn nearby was covered with skunk holes. The challenge is to find a focal point that's not too expensive and creates a similar mood. I'm looking.

The 'naked lady' has graced the shade garden from its beginning

Not a perfect gardening season, but pretty close to it. And to use the mantra of all gardeners, 'There's always next year.' I think you understand when I say I credit my garden with helping me survive a very difficulty year fraught with sickness and loss. I love my garden. I am indeed blessed to have it.
'What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage
-- Ezra Pound

Happy New Year my friends,
Pamela x


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I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Your garden through the year has been beautiful. I can see why it helped you through trying times.

  2. A garden can be a tonic when we're going through tough times, I'm glad that your garden has helped you through some particularly trying times this year. What a shame about your naked lady, I'm sure a new focal point is just waiting to be discovered and will fill the gap left perfectly. All the very best for 2015 to you and yours.

  3. Now I'm curious. Your mountains are hidden by hills (as ours were in Porterville) or trees?
    I'm finding mysterious bulbs in our new garden - which must reveal their name by their flowers.
    May 2015 be a kinder year for you.

    1. Thanks, Diana. The Pocono mountains are hidden by trees on our property. I love your mountain views. And how exciting to have mystery bulbs.

  4. Your gardens are exquisite!! I LOVE the ribbons.
    We also battle mildew here on Vancouver Island. Actually, there is no season without it.

  5. Pam, I enjoyed this post and pictures of your lovely garden! I like how you define problem areas and then attack them. Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!!!

  6. What an incredible year in your life and garden Pam. I can't wait to see your garden in the spring with all the bulbs. My bee balm gets powdery mildew usually every year but it never deters it and it comes back prolific. I have never seen it affect other plants either...just a thought if you try it again. And I love snapdragons but surgery last year prevented me from growing them but I plan to this year...Happy New Year my friend!

  7. Fairy gardens ! So charming! My mother used to stitch tiny elf hats and leave in the garden under a toad stool or small blossom, and when we brought them to her, she assured us a fairy had left it behind!!

  8. Gardens are ever a source of solace. Your garden had an especially beautiful year/

  9. Your lotus plant is so beautiful in the pond! Your gardens are gorgeous. How true that one can never step in the same garden twice. I think that's part of what makes it fun for a gardener - seeing how the garden grows and changes and dreaming about how it will be even better next year. How true, too, about the garden being a balm in difficult times. Wishing you a better and even more beautiful and bountiful 2015 for you and your family!

  10. What a pleasure to find your blog and your wonderful English cottage garden in the USA:) I love this garden style and you`ve really created such a marvelous place. You must enjoy it a lot. Wishing you a great year in your garden in 2015!

  11. This post perfectly captures what it is to garden Pam. Highs and lows that keep us coming back. I battle powdery mildew as well and haven't yet figured out what to do other than quit planting flowers that succumb to it. Sadly that means a lot of plants won't grow in my garden.

  12. My gosh your garden is beautiful. Your grandmother would be proud I am sure.
    A gardening phrase that is so common " you should have seen it last week" This is usually said while someone is viewing our gardens and complimenting us on it. "yes, yes, that is lovely but you should have seen how nice it was last week when the _____ were blooming".

  13. Pam, your garden is truly lovely. Wish I could hop over the fence for a cup of tea and a tour.

  14. It's always a pleasure to see your beautiful garden and Happy New Year to you and family

  15. Hey Pam,
    For mildew-free phlox, check out Chicago Botanic Garden trial articles in Fine Gardening on their website:
    Their two top performers were 'Shortwood' and 'Katherine'. Let me know how they do. You're welcome.

  16. Enjoyed your garden year journey. Loved the Sacred lotus Nelumbo nucifera, I must say, I was very taken with the words of Ezra Pound.

  17. I so enjoyed your garden in review post! But onward and upward they always say, this year will be even better, I'm sure of it. Now that the holidays are past, I can finally concentrate on next year's garden. Love it!

  18. I love this! Would you please describe your seed organizing more or do you have more photos? I am also in zone 6 (Colorado) and organize seed alphabetically, but by sow date would be amazing. What about succession planting (carrots, lettuce, radish) that go in every few weeks?