Thud, thud, thud – the spring seed catalogues have been arriving through the letter box steadily since 27th December – before I lose myself in the giddy excitement of new plants I wanted to look back at Summer 2019. I count myself a very enthusiastic and curious beginner gardener, each year I like to give myself a new challenge to see what I can grow.
My 2019 challenge was to have a bunch of blooms every week from the first daffodil to the last dahlia and from 15th Feb to the 9th of December I met my challenge. Whilst my enthusiasm never wavered I learnt to contain and channel it, focusing on growing fewer varieties but more of them and also creating three new flower beds for hydrangeas, an extended area for dahlia’s and a experimental cutting bed where our awful conifers had been.
The biggest challenge, apart from cats and small children, was the amount of bind weed in all the flower beds. It wove itself around the base of shrubs, founds its way into pots and into any undisturbed area, 2019 was the year I finally had the time to really get stuck in and dig out as much as I could, after ten green bag loads I stopped counting as miles and miles of the pesky weed made its way out of the garden.
Whilst there were still a few shoots popping up, the situation was far more manageable than previous years. I have a whole post to write on how I’ve managed to get it under control without the use of chemicals and spending a fortune which I’ll be sharing in a few weeks time.
I try and keep my seed list relatively small whilst I still don’t have loads of time to dedicate to growing. I love annuals that produce an abundance of flowers for as little effort as possible and did really well with super cheap seeds from the supermarket. My favourites last year were as follows. Cosmos – I’ve written about Cosmos before, seriously, if you grown one flower make it this one. I chucked my 2018 seeds onto a bare patch of soil where trees and been removed and ended up with a forest of flowers that bloomed from July to December.
My favourites are the Candy Stripe and Day Dream varieties but you cannot beat Purity for simple perfection. I start mine off in seed trays but I think I’ll be much braver about liberally sprinkling them around the garden so they can do their thing this year. Dahila’s – Sweet Sweet dahlias, they need some tending to get going and you have to be very vigilant with slugs and snails as they LOVE the early shoots but once the plants get established they are magnificent. I go large and lush with Penhill Watermelon, the dinner plate size flowers start off the season with the best coral colour then fade to a gentle pink as the season closes. I have lots of other tubers that I have collected along the way from places like Wilko, that always perform.
Before I started growing dahlia’s they always felt a bit intimidating, I wish I’d known about growing from seed. As an experiment I’ve grown seed dahlia’s and they have been so good, you have less control about colour but if that doesn’t bother you then start them in seed trays and reap the rewards over the summer. They form proper tubers so you can lift them in the winter and replant the following year. After seeing the cut flower beds at Sarah Raven’s garden I was brave this year and left some of my tubers in with a layer of mulch. My garden gets so wet in winter, I’ve kept them to the drier beds and am keeping my fingers crossed they survive. Strawflowers – I’d never grown these before and they were an absolute delight, strong and tough with an abundance of flowers that last forever when cut.
I almost let the seedlings go to waste as I ran out of time but I had a change of heart and filled cutting beds and gaps in the garden with them. Not expecting much they filled the garden with so many different shades from deep reds and sunset oranges to gentle pinks and silvery whites. My seeds were from Lidl and only cost 45p per pack which makes them such amazing value (they normally arrive in store mid February). They grow really upright, which makes them perfect for slotting into busy flower beds.
Of course there many other favourites along the way – Sweet Peas are a dream but didn’t have the best year and I missed my favourite Hi Scent (getting that back on the list this year). Zinnia‘s were a delight but I let them almost go to waste and they didn’t recover as well as the Strawflowers but I will grow again. I added lots of new roses last year and more this autumn too, I always go for bare root roses as they are much more affordable but seem to take a while to establish in my garden, my mum’s roses are always amazing. She really feeds her’s so I’ve been taking time in the last few weeks to really look after them and hope for more luck this year as they become more established.
I do daily checks and there are new shoots popping out all the time. I definitely want to add more grasses to the growing list, I tried Sparkling Fountain and Bunny Tails last year which did so well and have dried amazingly – which means homegrown flowers all year, yay! I think something with a little more movement will create a perfect trio for arrangements, I have this Briza Maxima in my basket.
I’m raring to go this year but know that patience is a virtue and will wait a little longer before I get sowing. I’m really hoping that I can get some more gardening posts written up – I have a few I’ve been saving as I needed to record the whole season which of course takes a year. BUT if there is anything you’d like know get in touch, I could talk gardens for days!
Self seeded Holly Hocks and Snap Dragons
Snap Dragons and Strawflowers
A seed grown Dahlia
Cosmos and Sunflowers
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My Garden (so much has changed!)