Monday 19 June 2023

June: looking back, looking forward

 Mid June is the peak season for most UK gardens looking at their best. Every weekend there are now loads of different NGS gardens to visit. English garden exuberance abounds with chocolate box roses and frothy cottage garden borders.

Not my garden….

Every year my garden has an early peak in mid/late May when there is a sea of blue from the forget-me-nots. Adding to this peak is a developing Iris obsession, which is linked to a Cedric Morris obsession. Yes, I loved that Chelsea Garden! After this early peak the forget-me-nots are pulled out I am reduced back to bare earth and the slug chewed stumps of things whose name I am still trying to remember.

One of the many new flag irises I have bought

This year I have lost a lot of plants. This is due to both the very hot summer and drought which was then followed by a really cold and damaging winter which stressed a lot of things. In autumn, after the drought, it felt like many things got a second wind, putting on lots of new growth. I wonder if the cold wet winter then was more damaging than normal…

The key things that I lost and which were damaged were:

Musa Sikkimese’s and basjoo: all the Sikkimensis that were planted out have been cut back to the ground. About 50% of those that were on the terrance also lost their stems. I even lost 2/3 of the stems on my basjoo clump.

Musa sikkimensis re-growing from the ground. This was a mature clump of two that had survived the last few winters ok. However, they seem to be root hardy and all this growth is from this year.

Salvias: most that were in the ground have gone, especially S. bethallii which was a bit of a mainstay..

Cyperus alternifolia: I have this in my pond and whilst the top leaves usually die the plants are ok. I think most are dead although thankfully I can see and occasional shoot.

Jelly aloe: all dead

The saddest losses were my red bananas. Usually these are fine in my meter cupboard but this year it wasn’t enough. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t leave them upside down long enough to drain (usually I forget about them and they end up being upside down for 4-6 weeks). Whatever happened it has meant that I lost 2/3 and am now to 3 plants which are all about half their size…sadly the middles of the others all look to have rotted.

 Hedychiums: jury is out on these guys as for the first time ever I lost a few that were in the ground. The ones in pots seem to have done better, but the rhizomes on the top seem to have rotted off.

Surprises: Thankfully a lot is still alive, some things I am surprised about like a Puya that is still looking good, tree aloe and a Cyathea that was wrapped up in a cold greenhouse. There are also some things that may surprise me as last week I dug up a fern that looked completely dead but which had a faint green shoot on the bottom.

It is exciting to now have the basic structure of the garden set out for summer. I have just about finished all the planting out including a lot of Tithonia and new dahlias. Although the dahlias survive fine in the ground I am realising how by buying new/digging them up to overwinter and then potting them up fresh does get them off to a good start as here the slugs destroy them.

A plated out Puya that is completely fine

The terrace and lotus bowl all coming back to life

Newly planted beds with lots of dahlias and Tihonia (below)

This year the productive area and greenhouse are super organised! 

This Fatsia polycarpa lost its growing point over the winter, but has come back stronger with 3 side shoots

Miniature water lilies just flowering and heralding a great summer!


  1. 🌿💚 I,m loving your greenhouse ..but hang on a minute cacti ? 🌵 🤣

    1. Only a few! as it is unheated it can be hard to keep any. I would also get a greenhouse full pretty quick!