Wrong, wrong, wrong…

Flicking through the latest copy of The Garden, just deposited on my doormat despite the fact that I haven’t made up my mind about renewing my RHS membership (hate the new design, by the way), I actually swore. Shocking. Ahem.

My eye had fallen on the letter from the editor, and its assertion that ‘Pick up any magazine, watch any television programme, read any blog – the most inspiring time to garden, one could assume, is between February and October.’

Hrumpf. And tosh. Especially this year, when there’s been plenty of gardening-media emphasis on the usefulness of winter as a time for planning. I’ve even heard some media gardeners talking about how lovely it is to look at branches and bark, how you aren’t so distracted by flowers. It does make you wonder which blogs the editor had been reading, too. Everyone I know is cogitating, planning, thinking, assessing. Some – and that includes me – are even planting.

See those smooth areas?

They’re my autumn – well, OK, winter – plantings of garlic and onions (the onions were a freebie – thank you, Marshalls, for over-ordering and giving some lucky purchasers a nice surprise).

I was about to say ‘of course, it’s not so photogenic a time’, but these are so cute.

And so it all begins again, round and round, because there’s really only a brief break – I think it was about three weeks here – before the clearing up after summer slides almost imperceptibly into preparing for next year. Of course the weather can be a problem. Rain, rain, rain, rain – but at least this year the meadow looks like this:

and not like this (which looks like a painting by one of the nineteenth-century Russian Itinerant artists – snow and birches, how very Russian):

Same date, same time.

We had to virtually dynamite the ground last year to get the garlic in, and the traditional (round here, anyway) Solstice planting date went by the board – mind you, it did this year too, but that was because the garlic started sprouting too early and had to go in or get thrown out.

At this time of year I can see that the bones of my garden really are sound. This becomes blurred later on as my dissatisfaction with some of my planting – and some of the things I can’t do much about, like being in the direct line of every single storm lashing in off the Irish Sea – starts to get to me. I also tend to compare my garden to other gardens, completely different gardens, gardens which look gorgeous but which have a different range of problems. But now I can also see, when I look back, that my garden does have a certain unity and a coherent style. OK, a rather dishevelled style, with a lot of wildflowers and rampant growth, but it is often lovely and it is a style and not an accident. I may need reminding of this later…

In the meanwhile, how about a little seasonality?

No holly, I’m afraid, because my holly – which is just above this ivy – is a boy and doesn’t do berries.


Have a lovely time, however you spend or celebrate it.


16 thoughts on “Wrong, wrong, wrong…

  1. hillwards

    It’s so true. My mind is whirring away, over planting the garden in my mind time and time again. There are seedlings being nursed on the windowsill, vs those left to do their own thing in the greenhouse, seeds thrust deep in pots, wishlists swapped with family and all manner of garden-y things still going on.
    Our holly tree is also a boy. One of these days I hope to add a lady-holly…
    Happy Christmas to you, too.

    1. kate Post author

      I haven’t really got started on the seedlings yet; I need the surfaces for jolly holly festivities and Hogswatchiana (oops, not everyone’s a Pratchett fan, I do forget). But the moment all the stuff’s back in the loft, out will come the seed trays… wish lists, though – I can do wish lists!!

      Must add lady holly to wish list. It’s very frustrating, but then it does make a good fire lighter whatever sex it is.

  2. welshhillsagain

    I think the bones of your garden are very clear and they are indeed lovely bones. That snow photograph is just stunning. Visiting Karen always makes me feel I have not enough colour and visiting your garden made me feel I haven’t enough structure! I am not sure what I do have other than a view! I am having a bit of time off gardening for a few weeks. I need to turn in for a bit in order to feel keen again, usually by about February.

    1. kate Post author

      That sounds like a good idea – having a break, that is – as it’s so useful to recharge the batteries (and it also allows all those minor injuries to settle down, ahem). I could do with tidying up some of my structure by hacking away at the Old Man’s Blinking Beard and finishing dead-heading my lavenders, but hey…

      Views are good. Even if they also come with wind!

  3. Christina

    It’s easy to feel dissatified with your own garden when comparing it with gardens in other climes and as you say with other problems; you’re very keen planting now; my garlic is already semding up its shoots just in time to be met by some very cold weather. Happy Christmas to you too

    1. kate Post author

      Your poor garlic… at least mine is still snuggled away underground. Mind you, after yesterday – it rained just a little bit – it could be drowning…

  4. Dobby

    If I wanted to garden now I would have to borrow Karen’s waders! It has been flooded for a couple of weeks and I hate to think how much water is lying around after today’s downpour. Think I preferred last years snow. At least I got my delicates under cover last weekend.
    The meadow looks great (in both shots).
    Happy Christmas

    1. kate Post author

      Indeed – it’s still very squishy underfoot, and the slate paths were a death trap. Apparently there’s more on the way… who needs a pond anyway? At this rate I’m getting one without the digging and the pond liners.

  5. Lyn

    Your planting area looks so beautifully neat, Kate! That alone is attractive, even without plants. I find the most inspiring time to garden is always the present season, and the gardening media seem to reinforce this, waxing lyrical whatever the time of year. Note to self: remind Kate around next August that her exuberant garden style is deliberate. Done.

    1. kate Post author

      Thank you! I’m sure I shall need the reminder – I just get so tired of it going berserk (but than I’d only complain if it didn’t). And you are so, so right – it really is whatever you’re dealing with at the present that’s really critical.

  6. wellywoman

    No gardening for me at the moment. We’ve had so much rain that the soil doesn’t look happy. My walking on it will only compound and compact this problem of too much rain. I’m so glad I put paths in at the allotment. Still I’m not too bothered there’s seed catalogues to peruse and graph paper to dig out for a few plans. Have a great Christmas.

    1. kate Post author

      We’re having even more rain now – maybe I did prefer the snow after all! Seed catalogues are such a consolation (though I mustn’t go mad – I’ve got an RHS seed distribution order due to turn up…)

  7. Harriet

    Your garden looks so tidy! Mine is looking sadly neglected but I console myself with the thought that the birds love the seedheads! I shall be cursing next spring though …!
    Have a very jolly Christmas.


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