2012 has been another year of great change here in our hilltop garden, as we have continued to develop the garden’s structure and plant up borders and containers.
Young shrubs in the two main borders quietly settled in, soon submerged by a sea of more exhuberant planting from perennials and annuals alike. In time, these shrubs should provide a more tangible backbone to the garden, particularly in the quieter seasons.
In March, we finally defined the front edge of the field border, and could plant up the strip that this created between our earlier planting and the grass. From June to December, this border has been full of colour (albeit mostly tawny browns and golds for this past month).
In early summer, we also created a new semi-circular border below the top path, which became home to our first dahlias and a few more permanent plants, peppered with seed-raised annuals to fill the spaces. The dahlia tubers have now been dug up from the heavy clay and are dreaming away the winter in a cool cupboard, hopefully to emerge once more in the spring for another splendid display.
The opening months of the year were dominated by new bulbs and winter’s small but stalwart performers, from primroses to pulmonaria. Tulipa sylvestris was a firm favourite, its pink streaked pointed buds opening to reveal sunny yellow flowers that lit up the grass verge.
As spring turned to summer, the borders burgeoned with blooms from aquilegias to roses. Hard to pick favourites during these months, as the garden blazed with colour.
The colours intensified even further as summer settled in, flickering with butterflies whenever the sun shone. The half-dozen Japanese anemones planted the previous autumn gave their first true performances, from the pristine white of Honorine Jobert to the pink half-double Pamina.
Asters picked up the baton as autumn leaves began to fall, dahlias and cosmos continuing to bloom undeterred by the first frosts of winter, until December found the borders finally dying down into a tapestry of sepia and decay, lit by small flares of yellow from primroses and winter jasmine, while Knautia macedonica has bloomed non-stop for more than twelve months now, albeit less fervently through winter.
Something for every season in our young garden, which is pleasing; although winter is certainly the quietest time, still requiring more thought and effort to give a stronger shape until spring bursts once more from the earth. But already there is more substance than a year ago, satisfying progress as the year draws to its close.
On a personal level, it has been a sad year for us, still keenly feeling the loss of my dear Dad. During the worst of our grief, the garden has provided a haven and focus, drawing us out and sprinkling a little magic across the darkest days, knitting us back together little by little.
Nevertheless we shall creep onwards, tomorrow, to a fresh year, and may it herald good things for one and all.