Optimism may not be a personal characteristic of all gardeners, but the pursuit itself demands a certain optimism and a constant eye to the future. In autumn we look to spring and summer, planting spring bulbs or planting bare root trees and shrubs. In the depths of winter we are busily gathering seed catalogues and ordering seeds for summer flower and vegetable bounty. In spring we sow those seeds and look forward to a great summer season. In summer we sow plants for autumn colour and seeds for winter vegetables.
Now, in late autumn I am taking stock of this year’s garden to see what worked well and what changes need to be made for next year. All the photographs taken during the year are helpful in this, reminding me of successes and failures. Admittedly 2018 was an unusual year: a long hot summer and drought conditions which comes to us about once every ten years. It was a disappointing year for courgettes and peas due to the lack of rain water. However, I have sowed seed of peas in the hope of overwintering them and having an early crop next year. If the summer of 2019 is our usual mix of temperate conditions and rain they will do well again. Tomatoes crops were exceptional for most varieties, although San Marzano plants suffered from lack of water. It is now the end of October and we are still picking tomatoes in spite of some heavy frosts.
It was a mixed year for the potato crop, the growth of plants was good in the early summer and there was no chance of blight during the growing season. The potatoes themselves had great flavour but the crop was small in size and in quantity. For the first time ever I have seen a fruit, like its cousin the tomato, on a potato plant.
The spring bulbs have been planted already, I have planted more under the native hedge in the front garden. The raised bed at the back on the east side of the garden has good colour in summer when the roses and hydrangeas are in bloom, but it’s a bit dull in spring, some clumps of snowdrops, daffodils, irises and cyclamen give it colour, but I have planted dozens of bulbs here for a great show next spring.
The orange and lemon pips are growing nicely and I hope to add a touch of Mediterranean style next summer by placing one or two in terracotta pots in the sun, an idea which came from a short trip to Rome in October.