Garden

Let’s be honest about Autumn and our state of mind

I’m currently looking out at the rain and wind and wondering if I’ll ever get into the garden again. It feels like there has been constant heavy rain for weeks. I know that’s not accurate, there will definitely have been mixes of rain and dry but because I can only really get into the garden at certain times (when I’m not working, when it’s light etc) and those times have always been rainy, it feels like that was the constant of the last few weeks. And now… we have storm Aiden…

I realised this was really playing on my mind last week and because of that, I was looking out at the garden with a sense of gloominess, focusing on what I saw as the negatives. So I thought I should take a minute to try to adjust that narrative before it takes hold too deeply and I get myself in a funk. So today I’m going to acknowledge all the gloom and doom but I’m also going to really look for the positives that it is hiding too. Since it’s currently Halloween, let’s think of this as my digital costume, I’m going as Sherlock Holmes (which is very unusual for me – usually I go as the Doctor).

Eli and Kate in costumes as dr who and a dalek
Yup that’s me as my favourite Dr – Tom Baker and Kate is in the dalek costume

So let’s have fun with this and I’ll set the scene to give you an idea of how my mind is working for this.

Leaves… in Autumn, the big thing we all talk about (hell I even photograph) is the leaves and how they have changed colour. Now to flip that on its head, as a gardener, god it’s depressing how much time you spend picking up leaves that are lying all over the lawn making the place look untidy.

Now do you see what I mean?

A while back I did one of the garden update videos for you guys and I had a bit of fun with the idea of Monty Don’s garden Longmeadow and how he has this massive garden which is actually broken down into multiple gardens and he takes us around them each week. Well, I did that same thing, with my small back garden. I took you guys around giving the different areas their own “garden names”. So we’re going to play with that again, cause mostly it’s just a bit of a laugh but also it helps me break down each area for you guys to talk about their unique features and characters. Yup even in a small garden it’s not all the same.

Let’s get started… thanks to Kate for the absolutely brilliant drawing to illustrate our garden 🙂

  1. The Sitooterie
  2. The Walled garden
  3. The Beer Garden
  4. The Produce garden
  5. The Container Garden
  6. The Greenhouse
    for another blog post…..
  7. The front of House
  8. The Rockery
  9. The Shrubbery
  10. The Driveway
Garden Plan
Garden Plan

The sitooterie

The idea behind the sitooterie is that we created a lovely place to sit out of a summer’s evening and enjoy the rest of the garden, have a wee drink or some food and generally relax. To be honest, since we built it, we have actually sat out there only a handful of times because you know, Scottish weather. Which in itself is depressing.

But that’s no reason to let it spoil because it’s also the area we see from indoors, so looking out there, even in sucky weather, is still pleasant with all the colours. Now at the moment, it may seem bare, especially compared to mid-summer when it was an absolute wall of colour but don’t let the lack of floral display fool you. Thinking back to May, we actually moved some planters around and replaced one that was old and falling apart. Now again, at the moment it’s a bit bare but I’m trying to think about the positives here, so let’s cast our minds into the future, let’s think spring… what will it look like then?

It was loving it in that planter, doing so well
Golden Elder losing its leaves
and now it’s losing its leaves

Back in it’s old spot, this, which is a type of elder called Golden Tower, was tiny. In fact, not just tiny but pretty much spent the entire year as a pile of twigs as it dies right back in winter. It never grew to more than maybe a foot and was a bit well, a bit rubbish if I’m honest. When we moved it to the sitooterie which is much more sheltered it just took off. It still hasn’t flowered and is losing it’s leaves as winter is coming but I can’t believe how much it has grown. The challenge for the coming year is going to be getting it to flower and… will it die back completely or will it be this tall next year? It would be a nice addition to the sitooterie if we could rely on it being tall as it would help with the idea of privacy between us and our neighbours as our seating areas back onto each other, so we can all hear each other when we are out.

The other area of the sitooterie which is currently a bit bare is the herb bed. There are gaps in there because I’ve had to move some of the tender herbs indoors over winter but we have one massive blast of colour there to help us see past the gaps. The blackcurrant sage.

blackcurrant sage in the herb bed

Now here is the thing, we bought this as a herb for using in cocktails, then it flowered and I decided I liked it so didn’t cut it back. Now it’s a full grown shrub. It looks stunning but it’s far too big for the herb bed so it will need to get moved. I also suspect it will be tender in our garden, so may struggle to cope with the winter temperatures here. But it’s gorgeous and makes me smile.

The walled garden

The walled garden has been this year’s star attraction, absolutely no doubt in my mind about this. Earlier this year we actually made it bigger as it had been quite a narrow bed meaning a lot of the plants were getting lost because of lack of space. So we widened it and created the new pathway – which I think is rather fabulous. Since then, this bed has just come alive. So even before we mention Autumn, this bed for me is still a winner as it’s a million times more attractive now than it was.

Now let’s get the obvious out of the way first, yes, we no longer have the sunflowers, the foxgloves, the mimulas or some of the petunias and violas but there is still a whole heap going on here and there are lots of spring delights to come. And of course, the tree is gone, which is really sad. But…

It’s still got the skimmias which I love and I really enjoy that fact that they are evergreen, have gorgeous red berries and give us gorgeous little flowers as well, but they have kinda been usurped by these little guys – the hebes. These are evergreen too, but the variegated leaves just add that extra level of interest and the purple flowers! I am loving it!

Hebe in the walled garden

I don’t think it’s possible for me not to smile when I look at this bed this year. I do have plans, I want to add a wee bit more colour in there, maybe some slightly bigger plants but it’s just lovely.

The beer garden

The beer garden should really be called the summer garden or the sun garden I think. It is at its absolute best in June, just a wall of colour. It’s the most amazing area of the garden around that time with the foxgloves, clematis, dianthus and ivy all adding to the colours. Like most areas now it’s getting a bit bare. It’s not completely bare though and like the walled garden it is improving over time. Even looking out of the window now, I can see the green of the formium, there’s still the deep green of the clematis climbing around the fence and around the coloured baskets and we even have some amazing red and pink of the ivy which has changed colour. I didn’t even know ivy did that. So to be honest, it’s not hard to find positives there if you actually look.

The produce garden

The fruit and veg we grow have pretty much been getting all the attention over the last few years, I think it only really turned around a bit when we extended the bed at the fence (walled garden) and that gave us something to work with in terms of colour and flowers. However, this time of year is always hard for me, to look out and see what were once seriously luscious and green beds are now pretty much empty.

So if we look at this for the positives, then the most obvious is about how an empty raised bed allows me to dig some lovely homemade compost through to enrich the soil, and then feed the bed with some much-needed fertiliser. A year of heavy cropping strips the soil of all the goodness so unless I take the time to put it back, next years crop won’t be quite so bounteous 🙂

So empty beds can be a good thing, right?

There is also a wee bonus in the greenhouse but more on that in a second.

The container garden

The container garden is another new area added in the last year, and unlike the produce garden, this is strictly just about visual appeal. Here we go a bit mad with colour 🙂 But hey, we’re allowed. We don’t have to just be good lifers!

In summer it was an absolute riot of petunias and marigold and anemones and african daisies. It’s not quite as riotus at the minute, the plants that are in there are going a tad leggy… BUT

The marigolds are still going. Can you believe it? This is actually the fourth sowing of marigolds from that one pack of seeds I grew from in spring. Really! I just keep taking seeds from the spent heads and regrowing.

We’ve also got a brand new addition in there, we added another Elder, this time a Black Elder. Our neighbours have one in the front yard and I absolutely love it. So I nagged Kate until she gave in and let me buy one. AND IT’S FLOWERING!!!!

Black Elder

The greenhouse

OK I saved the best till last. The greenhouse. Now I do find it hard to ever feel down or negative about the greenhouse. It’s just awesome that I have one. But some cool things coming at you from there… carrots. Yup I am playing with a carrot experiment and I have some carrots growing on in there for an early spring harvest.

Carrot seedlings in root trainers

And I’ve even got some cuttings coming on, not sure if they will actually take cause it’s not the most productive time of year but I’m having fun learning and testing things out.

Of course, the biggie for this time of year is the hydrangeas. As always I move them into the greenhouse to protect them from frost. Our hydrangea suffer quite badly, even when they are wrapped up so I just move them into the greenhouse instead.

It looks great too.

So all in all, maybe Autumn isn’t so bad 🙂

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