Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Joys and Tribulations of the 2020 Gardening Year

Midsummer 2020 in the Cottage Garden

It is time for me to reflect on the year that has been and to start planning for the gardening year ahead. It was a terrible year on many levels, but not in my garden; my garden was fabulous. Of course, 2020 brought pests, diseases (I'm referring to my plants not to the Pandemic,) weather disasters, mistakes made by this gardener, and losses of plants and, even worse, pets. The problems were outweighed, however, by the successes and the resulting beauty of it all. My garden sustained me; it gave me hope through the worst of times. So let's take a look at each season, celebrating the achievements and considering the lessons learned.
I had various winter projects, as always. For the first time, I grew paperwhites on pebbles. Not a total success as I had the water level too high and some of the bulbs rotted. I also found that the strong smell of the flowers was unpleasant to me. So I am only showing you the amarylis that I am growing on pebbles this winter. Both are doing well.
I learned from last year and I'm not allowing these amarylis bulbs to sit in water.

Another winter activity, as always, was to watch the backyard birds. I was thrilled to see bluebirds return. I took part in the Great Backyard Bird Count in February and look forward to this year's event. I'm giving it a shout out at the end of this posting. 

I enjoyed a large variety of birds on the feeder and heated water dish all winter. Bluebirds are my favorite.
In March, the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show, with its Mediterranean theme, was one of my favorites. Attending the show had become an annual event, greatly anticipated by Duane and me. We traveled there by train and stayed overnight at a hotel in the show's locale. As with many events, COVID has caused mayor changes this year. The show will be held at an outside venue at a later date.  I'm not sure how that will work for us, so for the first time, I'm not buying tickets in advance. But wonderful memories of last year's show.
The Philadelphia Flower Show in March was my last big outing before the lockdown.

Spring flowers bloomed early after a mild winter. A late-April frost, however, took the buds on the weeping redbud and on hostas.
Hellebores and daffodils bloomed early in 2020.

I was anxious for Duane to open the pond so that I could see how our newly-acquired frog spitter looked. It exceeded my expectations. After all, we named the pond Froggy Pond some years back. Unfortunately, we had trouble with hawks and herons taking the fish and frogs this time. We added some decoys as both birds are territorial: a fake heron and an owl. They seemed to do the trick. We successfully repaired a leak in the pond -- I'm proud of that!
When we opened Froggy pond we added the frog spitter.

The Kitchen Garden didn't live up to expectations last season. I didn't protect the early crops from rabbits and groundhogs and lost a lot of produce: snowpeas, bush beans, and spinach. I will protect them this year. The rhubarb went to seed before we could eat any (not for the first time.) You can see it bottom right in the picture. I think it was the variety, so I pulled it out, and must research its replacement (in a different spot, of course.)
The Kitchen Garden looked promising at the end of April.

I planted the window boxes with stunning Supertunias®. They were Vista Silverberry and Vista Bubblegum. I like to choose different colors each year - hope I'm equally successful in 2021. 

The five window boxes were very successful in 2020

 SUMMER 2020
 It was a good year for roses! Fingers are crossed (again) for this year.
The roses did extremely well. Hoping for success in 2021.
We replaced the catalapa that we felled the previous year with a dawn redwood (Metasequoia). It grew several feet taller before the end of the season. The lawn around the new tree still needs to be leveled and reseeded. This will be one of the first jobs for 2021.
The new dawn redwood was planted in June 2020 to replace the felled catalapa.

When the Cottage Garden peaked in midsummer it was stunning. In the cutting garden, zinnias ruled. There was a storm in August with very heavy rain that necessitated putting supports in place. The rain garden overflowed; we will extend it this year.
The cottage garden and the cutting garden peaked in July and were dazzling.

I was pleased with my container plantings.
Pleasing planters and charming clematis at the entrance to the Kitchen Garden

My gardening buddies caused some sad moments ...
Charm, my miniature horse, passed away July 1 from colic. Billy, the white goat, died a month later from old age. 

I missed them so much as I went about my gardening tasks. They were always on the other side of the fence to keep me company. Poor Doodles was so lonely. We were very fortunate that our vet found him some companions.

The goat group are very happy together. From the left: Bilboe, Doodles, and Taz.

FALL 2020

The highlight of the year for me was the September wedding for which I was honored to do the flowers. This posy was for one of the little flower girls.

Jonathan helped me make the wedding bouquets. He also made a stumpery, complete with gnomes and cut logs from the catalpa tree -- happy memories. 
The Stumpery
"The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you've come." -- Unknown
The problem with this type of posting is deciding which pictures to choose - I have so many.  Also, I tried to touch on things that I hadn't mentioned other years. But when you have been gardening and blogging as long as me, it's difficult.
 Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, January 2021
I do have a few blooms today so that I am able to link with May Dreams Gardens for GBBD, better late than never. Thank you to our lovely host, Carol. 
Not blooming yet, but close.
I forced tulip and grape hyacinth bulbs.
Flaming Katy, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Wishing you a happy and successful gardening year. Let's all pray that the present troubles, in the world and in this country, will soon be over. 
Stay safe and healthy,
Pamela x

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  1. I really enjoyed looking back over your gardening year month by month, it was a trying year but I think anyone with a garden was very glad of it being forced to stay at home for much of the year. Lovely to see photos of Charm and Billy and I'm pleased to hear that Doodles is enjoying having the company of his new friends. I received an amaryllis for Christmas so I'm looking forward to seeing it bloom, it has two flower buds on it so it should give a good display.

    1. My writing table is situated in a window overlooking the paddock and the three goats give me endless pleasure to watch, Jo, especially when they skip and play.

  2. Hi Pam! How I enjoy reading your blog and the pictures...WOW!!! It is so nice to see the love and care you put into your gardens. I willfully drive up Astolat Rd to see beauty of your creations. Looking forward to more beauty in 2021!!!

    1. A lovely comment, thank you, Darretta. Stop by in the summer sometime and I'll give you a tour. There's been a lot of changes since you were last here to help Kat groom my mini, Dude.

  3. Your garden is stunning. I'm not much of a gardener, so I appreciate those who are.

  4. Your garden is beautiful! I am looking forward to getting back put into mine this spring. Yesterday, I ordered some seeds and plants which is like a promise. Good gardening!

    1. The first task for me is to evaluate last year's garden as I did here. Then I make a list of all that is needed next season. Done that. My next step is ordering seeds. That is the best task of all.

  5. I loved your post Pam and the new Frog Fountain is magnificent! This certainly was a year of good times and bad, but we do have the fond memories from the past and new adventures to look forward to. Happy New Year to you and your family and wishing you a happy and healthy gardening season ahead.

  6. Pam, my husband and I were just talking about your cold frames. Can you explain why the pitch is so high? Do you grow something in particular that needs that much height? Planning to resist ours along the south wall of our greenhouse in the spring and want to get the best use out of them. Thankd

    1. I do grow some taller crops like Swiss chard but the high pitch is mainly for aesthetics. The pitch of the coldframe addition to the shed was made the same as that of the roof. It just looked better. Scientifically, it is unnecessary, and probably better to have a lower structure with less square footage to heat by the sun.

  7. Thank you for these beautiful pictures from your 2020 garden, a balm for my soul. The Great Backyard Bird Count is one of my favorite citizen science projects. I always look forward to Presidents' Day weekend for that reason.

    1. The GBBC is one of my favorites, too. Dorothy. It's a good feeling to be joined by thousands of other bird lovers all around the world participating in this important project.

  8. It all looks so rewarding and beautiful (apart from the sad loss of your gardening companions)

    1. Thank you, Diana. Yes, very rewarding. I am thrilled how my garden has progressed over the years.

  9. I enjoyed your article on your look back on the growing season. I loved all your pictures of your beautiful garden. I am so sorry for the loss of your gardening companions, so glad you found some new friends to watch over you.

  10. Such a nice recap of your garden in 2020. Everything was lovely. Your post inspired me to put pen to paper and make some notes on my own garden last year. I'm paging through seed catalogs now _ its my favorite thing to do this month. I bought two books that I can share with you: "Garden Insects of North America" (a serious tome), and "Gardening Under Cover" (the plants are under cover, not the gardener. Have a good day.

    1. Great minds think alike, Joan. I ordered Growing Under Cover by Jabbour. That's the Northeastern version of the one you recommend.

  11. These are some great images! I love the critters and the tulips are to die for!

    Feel free to share at My Corner of the World

  12. The kitchen garden looks great; actually the entire garden looks fantastic! I'm glad you had a good gardening year. :) And your photos of the spring flowering bulbs...magical!

  13. I sure enjoyed your year in review post, but I have to wonder how you could choose the photos for it! I have SO many! I must admit that I giggled about your experience with paperwhites. I grew them one time, but never again. Peeuw!