Friday, January 11, 2019

The Year in Review

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis in the Serenity Garden in April.

Spring was late. When the pretty white-petaled and gold-centered blooms of bloodroot appeared, I knew that it had arrived at last. After a mild winter, three March-through-April nor'easters battered the Poconos. We began to think spring would never come. How joyfully I welcomed those bloodroot blooms. They were quickly followed by an abundance of hellebores, snowdrops, crocuses, primroses, violets, lily of the valley, and daffodils. Spring has to be my favorite season -- especially after a prolonged winter.

Cheeky Blue Jay braved the March Nor'easters

Narcissus cyclamineus, the all-yellow daffodil with the swept-back petals, is one of the earliest to bloom: 

Daffodil Narcissus cyclamineus with its swept back petals


It seemed to rain a lot in May but the garden began to recover from the winter damage. We didn't realize then that rain would be the pattern for the year. In the Cottage Garden the alliums and peonies had buds ready to burst. Some alliums were already in bloom in Pollinator Heaven.

Froggy Pond and the Cottage Garden in May
The first allium blooms in May in Pollinator Heaven garden

I was thrilled to find dwarf crested iris flowers on the edge of Serenity.  I planted them the previous fall.
Dwarf crested iris Iris cristrata blooming for the first time
Grape hyacinth Muscari armeniacum in Serenity Garden

Along Bluebell Creek in the Woodland Walk there was a tapestry of spring flowers. Unfortunately, by the end of the year this area was inundated with Japanese stilt grass. I believe this invasive weed will be my biggest challenge in 2019.
English bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta, sweet woodruff, and hellebores
A major reason spring is my most loved season: the beautiful viburnum blossoms. Also, I delight in bridal veil spirea, mock orange, azalea, and rhododendron.

Maries' Viburnum Viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Mariesii' and Jonathan
White on White: Azaleas and Bridal Veil Spirea


The biggest winter damage was to the roses. Their stalks were black with no sign of life. I was tempted to pull them out, but resisted, and pruned them back vigorously to a couple of inches. I'm so glad I did this because they started to recover. Although I had few blooms, there was still hope. The climbing rose, sheltered against the south-facing garage wall, was less damaged. Other plants were not so fortunate and I lost some butterfly weed in Pollinator Heaven and several newly planted ground covers in the Woodland Walk.

Rose garden -- no June roses
Water iris in Froggy Pond

June is red and purple in the Cottage Garden. Peony spp. and Allium 'Globemaster'
Climbing rose and clematis -- perfect together


Summer arrived with excessive heat, rain, and humidity.  My summer garden was so disappointing. Take a look at the two pictures below and compare 2017 and 2018.  Last year the garden failed to peak in early July as it did in 2017 and all previous years. There are always compensations though -- the beautiful delphiniums were a plus.

Cottage Garden
July 2018
July 2017

Abundance Garden was a tangles mess all season. It was too hot and humid on rain-free days for me to do the necessary maintenance. But I took great pleasure in the sea holly. Over the years I planted four of these and this was the first to bloom. 

Sea holly Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Wilmott's Ghost'


Pond garden and patio with hydrangea 'Pinkie winkie' spilling over the fence

August was not pleasant - weatherwise. I had some successes in the Kitchen Garden, but didn't enter anything in the West End Fair because I traveled much of the month. You can read my Kitchen Garden evaluation HERE.

Fading cottage garden


There were a couple of plant highlights in September with the Serenity Garden probably the best venue.

Sweet Autumn Clematis Clematis ternifolia

Pink blooms of Sedum 'Autumn joy' and
Turtle head, Chelone 'Hot lips'


The trees around our farm had little fall color this autumn. 

Dwarf cutleaf maple Acer palmatum in it fall colors

Most of the fall color was provided by zinnias and marigolds in the kitchen garden

We now know that the Poconos had record setting rainfalls with precipitation 20 inches above normal. It was the warmest May through September. I wrote an article, 'How too much rain affects your gardens and what to do about it', to be published in the Pocono Record on Saturday, January 19, 2019.  I fear these new weather patterns will continue. Every year is an adventure, but despite the challenges I look forward with hope to the next gardening season. Can't wait for spring!

How was your 2018 garden?

Pamela x

Twelve spotted skimmer Libellula pulchella on my pond

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. We live all these miles apart and yet our weather can still follow similar patterns. We had some very late wintery weather last year, a late spring and a hot summer. Many of my plants suffered because of the weather, either they were late because it was still so cold in spring or they didn't enjoy the extreme heat of summer. It's been mild here so far this winter, I'm just hoping that we're not in for another late cold spell, though I do hope we get a good summer again.

    1. Amazing the similarities. But a big difference last summer was all the rain we got here compared with you. We always think of England when we think of rain -- not so anymore.

  2. I feel like last year was tough in the garden weather-wise, but you still had beautiful gardens! Your spring-blooming shrubs are just stunning. I'm glad your roses came back for you! I wish you much happiness in the garden for 2019!

    1. Thank you. How ever bad the year there is always something good to report.

  3. Happy New Year Pam! I enjoyed the monthly stroll through your beautiful gardens. Our weather conditions are so much alike and I experienced much of the same in my garden with the seasons being all off by a few weeks. Somehow the garden does have a way of adjusting though and hopefully 2019 will put us a little more on track. I look forward to your gardens in the new year and wish you all the best for a wonderful 2019!

    1. Thanks for the hopeful comment, Lee. Happy New Year to you, too!

  4. Hi Pam! I enjoyed reading your review and looking at the pictures! It wasn't an easy year for your garden, but it was beautiful anyway! Look at those blooms! And the garden bones! I love the 'White on White' picture especially! And look at your helper! Nice picture!
    I wish the best to you and your garden in 2019!


    1. Thank you Tatyana. I'm thrilled you feel my garden has good bones. I often think I should have planted more shrubs. I am blessed to have such a wonderful helper!

  5. The frustrations, and despite them, still the joys.
    I am walking around my garden with a critical eye, and tackling it a manageable bit at a time. A little list ... getting longer.

    1. So many frustrations; yet our gardens still provide many, many joys.

  6. It's lovely to see your review of your garden year. Each month has its beauties.

  7. That viburnum is spectacular!! Your garden looks amazing. It may have been an off year for you, but if I was able to achieve even half of what you have, I would be ecstatic :) I can sympathize, though, about the heat last summer - it kept me inside a lot too & it was so frustrating when all I wanted to do was get some garden work done.

    And I totally agree with you about spring - I think those of us in colder climates appreciate springs arrival so much more because of our long, cold, stark winters.

    1. You are right, Margaret, about appreciating spring. And you would know as your winters in Canada are longer and starker than ours. Right now, though, our wind chill temp is -19°F.