THE GARDENING YEAR ENDS
As the gardening year draws to an end, now is the perfect time to look back and compare our hopes and expectations of creating a great garden with this years choice of plants and seeds, but working with the weather which is not always in our favour.
Gardening activities are an ongoing process, so success in one year is
often the result of the previous years planning and purchasing of plants, bulbs
and seeds. If I was to choose the best success of 2017 it would have to be the
spring bulbs with tulips making a massive impact. The previous autumn I had
bought in a batch of the tall bright red Apeldoorn and Golden Apeldoorn Darwin
hybrid tulips to
make a bold splash of colour, and also a large batch of dwarf
early tulips to plant amongst my roses. As they are dwarf and early they would
not interfere with the roses which would grow strongly once the tulips were
over. The display was immense but weather was on my side. The spring was dry
and sunny but never hot so the show lasted from early April till the end of
May, then in June the rain came on and lasted for months. This year may have
gone down as one of the warmest on record, but not up north. We got a really
wet summer which wiped out my sweet Spanish onions with white rot. Next year I
will go back to established varieties.
|Best wishes for 2018|
|Tulips with wallflower|
|Lily Casa Blanca|
|Crocus Yellow Mammoth|
However my tubs of geraniums and tuberous begonias put on a brilliant and very long lasting display. Impatiens and lobelia were also favourites but petunias all died out from lack of sun and too much rain. Azaleas all enjoyed the spring weather with a mass of colour for a couple of months.
Although there was a lot of wet weather and we may have missed out on heat waves, it was warm all summer so many crops excelled. Berries of all kinds produced heavy crops and right into late autumn for my star performer, autumn fruiting raspberry Polka.
|Red tuberous begonias|
Strawberries were also cropping well except my new variety Colossus, which was not all that big and cropping was very light. It is getting dug out along with blackberry Reuben which is very highly rated in catalogues but just does not live up to the description. The fruit is not big and the flowers are so late that most of the fruits do not ripen. Bramble Helen is hard to beat and very early fruiting in August, so it would be good to find one that crops into autumn. The search goes on.
|Sarpo Mira potatoes|
The warm wet summer suited all the green leafy vegetables from lettuce to cabbages, kale and Brussels sprouts as well as all the root crops, especially potatoes. They grew so well early on that even those that got blight still produced a heavy crop. Star performer was Sarpo Mira with massive spuds, but Amour which also cropped well turned out to be a poor keeper as shoots started to grow after a couple of months in store. Afraid it is off the list for 2018.
We have a big problem with clubroot disease on the allotment so I use a lot of resistant varieties of cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and Swedes. Made a sowing of clubroot resistant swede Invitation and standard variety Best of All. None showed any sign of disease
but the best roots came from the cheaper Best of
All. Clubroot resistant cauliflower Clapton was sown in mid March then again in
mid May. All were successful but as the whole row is ready at the same time,
next year I will sow smaller rows with three sowing dates a month apart.
|Berries in abundance|
outdoors and under glass had a growth year, though continual summer pruning
kept them under control and there was no wasp problem this year as they were
discouraged by the continual rainfall. Outdoor varieties Solaris, Muscat Bleu
and Polo Muscat all failed to impress so after several years of trial they have
all been dug out. Rondo, Regent, Phoenix and Brant all gave good crops so they
will remain for a few more years. Grapes gave me four demijohns of wine, but I
had to add some sugar to give me 11% alcohol, as the autumn sun did not last
long enough to sweeten up the grapes. I will rest the wine for three years in a
cool room to let it mature.
|Black Hamburg grapes|
Pot up Impatiens cuttings taken in autumn and rooted in small jars of water. They soon grow roots, but water has no nutrient value so potting them up will get them growing strongly. Keep them watered and warm and even in winter they can begin to flower and add colour as a pot plant.