Winter has arrived in my garden. It is later than expected, but just as unwelcome. Much too cold to mess about outside, but I am still thinking about my plot – winter is the perfect time to look back at the last season, and forward to the next.
What has worked? What hasn’t? A quick look through this year’s empty seed packets is revealing. Some of the seedlings made no appearance at all (although I live in hope that the perennial ones I scatter in the borders might take off at any time in years to come). I can see I need to be more selective about some of the seeds I grow, and more realistic about what will fit into my garden. And I must pay more attention to successive sowing, rather than trying to grow everything at once. (Note to self – a calendar kept in the greenhouse may help with that).
The new seed catalogues are here to provide me with inspiration. I choose a different annual colour scheme when choosing what to grow each year.
2016 was orange and black – Sweet Pea ‘Prince of Orange’, Calendula ‘Porcupine’, Escholtzia californica and Nasturtium ‘Alaska’ looked well with drifts of black opium poppies, cornflowers and hollyhocks.
For next year I’m thinking of crimson and lime green – Amaranthus caudatus ‘Pony Tails’, Nasturtium ‘Crimson Emperor’, Antirrhinum ‘Black Prince’, Cosmos ‘Pied Piper Red’ with Nicotiana langsdorffii, Zinnia ‘Envy’, Bells of Ireland and Smyrnium perfoliatum. The self-seeding black opium poppies will make a welcome addition too.
And what about veg? I grow lots of my favourite perennial artichokes and asparagus, but have little success with annuals other than sweet corn and runner beans.
Next year I will treat myself to a few varieties of plug plants, rather than leave the veg beds wanting. I like the idea of leeks, sweet peppers, aubergines and some grafted tomatoes – all will be given a better start to life than I can provide.
Throughout winter I will venture out to feed the birds and take a wander down to my greenhouse, so it will be good to have something growing there. I usually manage to succeed with grasses sown over winter, so I’ll try some different varieties of my favourite genus, Carex, to grow alongside some sweet peas I started in October.
Last week I squeezed in a large pot of young Echium pininana plants to protect them from the frost, along with cuttings of some potted up unusual hebes and buddlieas from gardening friends. I shall look forward to checking up on all of these throughout the coming months.
Julia Boulton is Editor of ‘The Cottage Gardener’, quarterly journal of The Cottage Garden Society: www.thecgs.org.uk
She is a professional garden photographer, and writes a regular garden blog from her garden at http://juliaboulton.me
This is a lovely blog Julia. I look forward to following you.
Thank you Julie!
Some great ideas and extremely thought provoking. Really like your suggested colour matching. Thanks Julia!
I love the vibrant colours. Time was, I shunned planting anything orange in the garden, along with a lot of others, some of them so called ‘tastemakers’, arbiters of garden style. How wrong we were — thanks for the inspiration Julia!
Thanks Ruth. The great thing about using annuals is that as they are only temporary, it is like painting the garden with a fresh lick of paint each year… but far more interesting!
It’s great to think about the pleasures our gardens will bring us next year instead of just peeking through the back door at the frost. Thank you.
I love these ideas and the thought that’s gone into them. It’s inspired me to think about themes in the garden and what’s best to sow. Lovely pictures too. I’ve sent the link to my mum in law as she’s really into gardening at the moment despite being in her 80s! I think the tip about successful sowing is particularly good and I need to heed that too! I usually get carried away and then kick myself for having far too much lettuce at once when if I’d been more sensible I could have had it throughout the season. So very much appreciate that, thanks.
Thanks Barb. This made me laugh – I don’t know anyone in their 80’s who isn’t into gardening!
Great blog with good ideas,I will check my old seed packets in future. When it’s so dull and daylight limited like the idea of planning next years bounty !
Thanks for the inspiration Julia. I really like the sound of what you’re planning to sow next year, so may be copying you!
Great tip about the calendar