The vaguely green-fingered thoughts of a rambling rose.

2010 Review

The beginning of the year was harsh. With thick snow and ice, and the coldest winter for some 30 years - we managed some 8 inches of snow. Many of our less hardy plants were cruelly taken. That'll teach us to be flippant about our generally wet and mild winters.

The year ends having broken those records, with -19c locally, and in our own little patch of England, we had just over 18 inches of snow on the level, and something like 4 feet in drifts! 

The first snowfall of winter '10/11 was on 27th November. The earliest for 17 years in this area.

The councils had shipped in extra grit as a lesson learned from the beginning of the year, but grit doesn't work at temperatures under something like -5, and the deep snow falling meant it would be wasted. What we needed were snow ploughs!

Having said that, as I type this, while there is little evidence of the snow, we are left with a legacy of fog, burst pipes and some areas having no water supply at all.

The garden has taken a serious battering, and I fear that any plants with less than full Nordic hardiness that managed the previous winter, may well have succumbed to this one, but that will have to wait until spring, and that of course is next year!

Back to this year, and following the late start to Spring, the bulbs did really very well beginning with the snowdrops, which began flowering from 20th February. The first of the narcissi blooming on 16th March, a month later than the previous year.

April saw the start to the growing season proper. Being unusually warm and sunny, it made up for the long Winter. Everything seemed to come into flower at once. The bulbs, the polyanthus, dicentra, and who could forget the ever-lasting violas that survived through the winter?
The layered bulb containers worked really well, but they were quite an eyesore once all the bulbs had finished. I think more summer bulbs, and less spring bulbs to be noted.

There were a few changes in the garden's design too. With the hen house taking up their summer home in the shadier end of the garden. A new path laid, and the raised bed re-positioned.

We added one hen, and then promptly lost her and two others. We have only recently replaced these with another two hens, this time hybrids, but no eggs as yet. Lola is still with us, but she is also taking a break over winter from egg-laying. She's worked the hardest for us over 2010.

The fruit garden didn't do too well in 2010. We have many strawberry plants, but they didn't perform as well as hoped. We had a bit of a problem with Mrs Nutkin biting into almost every raspberry too, so may have to net these next year.

I grew dahlia's from seed, which worked remarkably well. So well, they had to be found homes. They performed well all summer, and well into the autumn.

Slugs and snails were yet again a major pest in the garden, despite the hens. The egg shells weren't as effective as I'd hoped, but I will persist.

The digitallis performed magnificently for many months, and I've spread the seed, and let some self-sow. I do hope the young plants make it over the winter.

I failed miserably again with carrots. They were tiny spindly little things, that were barely useable whole in stir-fries. Despite the good start with the onions, something came along and devoured all of the tops off each bulb, and they only grew to the size of a ping-pong ball.  The potatoes weren't quite as plentiful as the preious year, but they were just as delicious. Oh and we failed yet again with the butternut squash.  The radishes did well, but the beetroot could have done better. We had an impressive harvest of courgettes and french beans, many of which were given away.

In the greenhouse, the Morning Glory was stunning, a solitary cucumber appeared, the cuttings were inspiring, and the lettuce almost bolted.

I think of all the vegetables, the best performace was that of the sweetcorn. We had so many cobs that we had to give away a lot, and the hens enjoyed the last of the harvest.

The flowers, oh the flowers, where to begin!

The clematis 'Rhapsody' was short of flowers this year, despite flowering twice. I'm not sure whether it was resting, or it was because of the previous bad winter. 2011 will be sure to enlighten us.

I was so pleased with my first attempts at growing Freesias and watching the steel-grey stems of the Eryngium turn vivid blue.

We had impressive displays of Sweetpeas, Sweet Williams, Poppies, Petunias and Pelargoniums, not to mention my favourites, the Lillies (the white ones began flowering on 24th June). However, I think 2010 was the year of the Fuschia.  They outshone everything in the garden with their different colours, shapes and varieties!

I'll leave you with Toad's very first success with cuttings. My own Christmas Cactus had finished flowering by the big day, but Toad's waited for it's moment.

All the very best of British for 2011!

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