So that’s it 2012 is over, and it all seems to have been very speedy although thinking back I have done a lot particularly plant wise with discovering and establishing the new formal pond, clearing all the remaining areas of the garden, establishing the basic layout and putting in a new summerhouse. I was also a lot more comfortable with opening for the NGS with our actual opening day being a fabulous success and great opportunity to celebrate the garden and meet new people. The huge learning curve was becoming a bee keeper which has been really interesting, but far more work (and stress!) than I had thought...
So with 2013 dawning I wanted to reflect on what have been my big bits of plant learning and what I will do next year. So here are my big successes, things that weren’t great, those the jury is out on and those that are heading towards the compost bin.
Giant Dahlias: D.imperialis and D.excelsa have been great reliable plants...and I like imperialis so much I bought another one as they grow huge and look very jungly. D.excelsa has only been with me for one year (I got it after seeing Mark and Gaz post about it and how they preferred it to imperialis) its still too early for me to have a preference but they are different and I like how this one clumps a bit more.
|D. imperialis os on the right... this bruiser is a must!
Nicandra: Shoo fly plant: this was a new one for me which is now a must have plant as they were very easy from seed, grew very quickly and were good fillers....in fact they grew too much in lots of places and I needed to prune them back
Canna musifolia: I love this plant! A new one for 2012 for me, but one I now always want as it grew big and fast, and lived up to its name of looking like a banana tree with elegant leaves of the same radiant green. It actually grew a lot better than the bananas I had, especially M. Sikkimensis. So lots more for next year please!
|C.musifolia with M.basjoo behind...I love you!
Paulownias: the love affair continues with these trees that once stooled grow like rockets from the soil. Looking like giant sunflowers/cabbages they are a must have for exotic style gardens and I am very happy I have 7 through the garden and can’t wait for them to get big
Ensete venticosa: These Abyssinian bananas were stars in 2012. I was a little sceptical as I shy away from very tender things as I dont have facilities to over winter tender stuff and I don’t like the hassle...however overwintering them using the method where you chop off all their leaves and roots and storing them dry worked a treat and made it very easy. My 2 yr old plant grew huge and encouraged me to get 5 more.
Helianthus (H. salicifolius, Jerusalem artichokes and H. Lemon queen) My plant lusting for H. Salicifolius and the similar(ish) Eupatorium capillifolium was fully repaid...gorgeous green spires of lacey feathery foliage which I spent many a moment gazing at. H. Lemon queen, although not so jungly, didn’t disappoint and grew to be a 6ft mass of flowers which the bees went crazy for, and I think I will bulk this up for my more regular front garden. The Jerusalem artichokes (sunflower family) were also great for screening and added that lush jungle feeling...
|ok not a great picture of the Helianthus (on left) however it has reminded me how great the Rudbeckia Herbsonne was.....ok not jungly in a traditional sense, but it was in its exuberance
Coleus: where have you been all my life? I love you! easy plants which make a big impact and are very jungly, I need more next year! Im not so convinced on having lots that are all different however one or two varieties would be fabulous
|mmmm I miss you, Im sorry I let you die horribly in the frost....
Bad year for....
Cannas: I bought loads this year from Hart Cannas which I thoroughly recommend. I had hoped for great things, and I got them from C. Musifolia and foliage types but the ones I got for their flowers sulked and never really started flowering. I think this was because they were young and it wasn’t a hot/sunny year but it was a shame
Ricinus: also suffered from the bad weather as last year they were about 8foot, this year they were 4-6 L I have a feeling I also didn’t fertilise as much but it wasn’t good as I rely a lot on them for structure and lost out a bit...
Musa sikkimensis: I love bananas but 2012 sucked for the sikkimensis as they were very slow to get going, didn’t grow much and I lost one...compared to M.basjoo they are a better plant in that the leaves are more upright and don’t tear but basjoo is a lot more reliable and comes through the winter better
|This sikkimensis sulked, then the main stem died and all this growth is from this year. Not great considering the amount of effort they take to keep....M. basjoo is a lot more reliable in comparison
Kangeroo apple: after having a fabulous 2011 where they burst into life forming thickets of jungly niceness in 2012 they suffered with thrips and didn’t really get going. I have 5 Im overwintering in the greenhouse so fingers crossed for a better 2013..
Heading towards the compost bin
Hedychiums: Only H. Densflorum performs for me...it is reliable and jungly and has been bulking up nice and I won’t be without it, however the rest of the family sucks! I don’t know it is just me but of the 6 other species none do very much beyond emerging late and then growing about 1-2ft. Where are the thickets of Will Giles’s garden?
|I do love you, but please tell your brothers and sisters to buck up!
Ipomea: I just can’t seem to get them to grow well from seed...they get to be about 2ft tall and really stumpy which is bizarre considering how well the Convolvulus used to do. UG!
Fatsia japonica: ok ok I know this is supposed to be a backbone of a hardy exotic garden and really easy, but I just cant get them to do well as they tend to get all stumpy, loose their leaves and die back. Part of me thinks this is a bug, or that they don’t like drying out but I am a little stumped why they don’t do better. However whatever is going wrong they are looking a little embarrassing to have in the ground and the half that are looking ropey need to go...
Less is more: ok ok I know this is a classic, but I’m seeing how true it as I gradually decrease the density of planting and simplify things, repeating patterns and bulking things up to give a continuum. I’m trying to do this by propagating lots of black lily grass and polypodiums to give a continuous underplanting, and also with lots of Tetrapanax although they are slower growing than my impatient self would like.
I like big grasses: I never thought I would say it but I’m loving the grasses...particularly big Miscanthus and ones which don’t flower. I hadn’t really thought of them as jungle garden plants, however after going to Bali and seeing them everywhere I’ve changed my mind.
Helping the borderline: I am increasingly giving more shelter to things which are borderline hardy to improve their chances and bring them on quicker...yes my Opuntias and musa lasiocarpa will survive outdoors, but by putting them in my side passage they sail through winter rather than limping through with war scars...
Goodbye fences: I hope that this year I can fully hide all the fences with climbers and big things...I may also need to be more professional with this and not just tie random bits of cheap wire as this doesn’t quite work
Go go bamboos: after a couple of years of sulking I hope this is the year that they start bulking up and getting tall. Pretty please bamboo gods?!
Thick clumps of unvirus’y cannas: the houses outdoor metre cupboard is now full of overwintering plants and cannas which I hope make it through and are nice and bulky
Ricinus thickets: I will buy 3 packets of seeds this year as I use even more than I think I need. I will also try one of the dark varieties this year...
Grow my pretties....I have a structure of perennials in which I just hope grows faster! My 8? Tetrapanax are still only about 3ft, Paulownia babies were about 6ft, bamboos were sulking and Pseudopanax very mini... clumps of Musa basjoo are also slowly producing pups but I want it all now! Thickets of bananas, huge bamboos, 10ft Tetrapanax obscuring the neighbours. Lots of fertilizing and watering in the summer me thinks...
Visiting lots of fabulous gardens: I am looking forward to getting the new NGS book as I like to visit other peoples gardens as much as my own. I also want to visit more gardens which are open to the public...Visiting Great Dixter remains my favourite garden I saw last year (see my blog post here Great Dixter) and I have been inspired by the many gardens featured on the Galloping Gardeners blog. I also want to visit the vicarage garden in East Ruston which looks fabulous, and wouldn’t mind a trip around England to visit some of the exotic nurseries.... mmm!
|I love you Great Dixter!