Down to the Earth

My garden is predominantly herbaceous, and being in a temperate climate, that means it spends a fair part of the year looking barren and bare. There are several evergreen plants and shrubs but they’re by no means enough to keep the “lush, green” feeling going through the winter.

As I become more aware of plants and gardening, and take more photos of the garden – not just in the height of summer when the borders are overflowing – but also in the depths of winter when most of the garden is dead, I am amazed that such plant and flowering abundance is levelled right down to the ground each year.

From this:

January
January 2012

To this:

June
June 2012

Each year, every year, the cycle goes on and it never ceases to amaze me. Right now the garden looks dreadful for the most part. However, there are many signs of life: the Christmas Box and Bergenias are already flowering, daffodils are forming flower heads and snowdrops have already thrust through the soil. The buds on deciduous shrubs are fattening and the herbaceous plants are already pushing this year’s shoots through the ground. Meanwhile, I’m desperately trying to finish the winter clean-up as there are queues of seed trays in the greenhouses lining up to be planted out and add to the abundance of Summer.

Coming back to the present, there is still February to get through, but there are so many changes happening right now that once Spring arrives and things really get underway, I’m just not going to be able to keep up!

8 Comments


  1. Sunil – did I tell you about Daphne Bodens (sic) which is thriving in my garden? A lovely show of tiny pink bunches of flowers December/January which is now about 10 feet high, and is in a place where height doesn’t matter, so I will let her go on up. Should have taken a pic for you when she was in bloom…… never mind there will be some garden pics on my blog in the next couple of months……. exciting times!

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    1. Hi Mrs. Mac, that sounds lovely – it’s grown pretty large too. Our neighbours have a large winter honeysuckle that clambers over the fence but they hacked it back severely this year otherwise I would be enjoying its scent wafting through the garden. Looking forward to pictures of your Daphne.

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  2. Hi Sunil, it really is amazing that plants that tower to 6′ in summer can completely disappear in winter — not even to basal rosettes or anything, just nothing. It’s also amazing how much larger your garden looks when it’s full then it does in winter! Yet another of those things that designers tell us that turns out to be true… You’ve really done a good job of creating the illusion of space. I say this from the heart, as someone else with a small garden!

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    1. Hi Stacy, thank you for your kind comment and I know, it never ceases to amaze me that towering spires of delphiniums go from the ground to over 6′ in a few months! Winter is one of the few times when I can see most of the garden and the edges of the borders too. The garden has many more hard edges before the plants come in, soften everything and obscure the views.

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  3. I find it a slightly frustrating time of year – you really want to be out there doing stuff but it is too early and although the bulbs are coming through, there are no flowers. I spend hours reading seed and perennial catalogues which ultimately means spending money with no real gardening ‘action’.

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  4. Hi Claire, I can see what you mean. Every time we have a sunny day, I want to be out there but it’s either too cold, too wet or I’m at work. I’m being very restrained in spending on catalogues this time around as I have so many little plants waiting to be planted out (or be handed to friends). I did a big seed order last Autumn and I still have the “Spring Sowing” seeds to do – after having done the late summer and autumn batches!

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  5. Sunil, I know what you mean. At one time our garden was almost all perennial and as you say a fantastic look can be achieved in Summer. We have tried to give an all year round effect, but there is a compromise to be made in Summer. Love your June picture.

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    1. Hi Alistair, thanks, that makes sense, I don’t know how far up the country you have to go before a herbaceous garden looks good for less time than it spends dormant, underground.

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