Dear Readers, I’m looking back at what happened in the garden last year, and am trying to decide what worked, and what didn’t. It’s fair to say that the garden looks pretty good in the spring. Lots of the bulbs do well – the snakeshead fritillaries are naturalising under the trees, and the grape hyacinths usually do pretty well too. You might remember that I’ve planted some wacky varieties of the latter this year, but I have forgotten where I planted them, so hopefully I’ll be in for a nice surprise.
My lovely friend J gave me some forget-me-nots, and they are gradually advancing across the garden, which is no problem to me.
In the pond, the marsh marigold always provides a splendid show of yellow flowers, and I’ve even indulged myself and bought a cream-coloured one this year. Let’s see how it gets on.
And I mustn’t forget the flowering currant. This starts flowering in March, and is an instant hit with the hairy-footed flower bees.
The figwort did well, and was appreciated by a wide range of insects, including this splendid rose chafer..
One of the triumphs of the year, though, was this wild angelica. It grew to nearly ten feet tall before keeling over. Sadly it’s a biennial, so it won’t be around this year, but I’m hoping it will have self-seeded. I shall be keeping my eyes open for any seedlings.
The mock orange did well as well.
And oh, the joy of planting something in a pot and forgetting what it is until it comes up. This honey garlic lily was probably my favourite plant of last year. I loved everything about it, especially the way that, when pollinated, the seedheads rise and look like the turrets of a tiny castle.
As usual in a wildlife garden, not all the wildlife behaves itself. How adorable are these two, though? Their mother rears at least one litter of babies in the whitebeam every year.
And they weren’t the only babies either. No one used my nest boxes last year, but both robins and great tits have been inspecting them already this year, so fingers crossed.
The lavender in the front garden attracted the usual range of pollinators, including this very fine wool carder bee.
And I grew teasel for the first time though not, judging by the amount of babies that have seeded themselves around the garden, for the last.
By mid-summer the hemp agrimony was in full bloom, and I started to notice the tiny spiders who lay in wait amongst the flowers. This has been such a good plant for pollinators – everyone from bumblebees to hoverflies seem to love it, and it comes back every year. It is a bit floppy though, so this year I’ve got some plant supports to try to keep everything more upright. Let’s see how we get on!
Oh and did I mention the teasel?
And I forgot that the leaf-cutter bees had been hard at work on the leaves of the enchanter’s nightshade, a ‘weed’ that just popped up. At least it was appreciated by somebody.
And I’m still very impressed with the bittersweet that’s entwined itself with the honeysuckle. To my surprise, it wasn’t just bumblebees that buzz-pollinated it last year, but some of these tiny solitary bees as well. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to get some better photographs and actually identify them.
The water mint did very well last year, and I suspect I will never be without it again either.
And by the autumn there are a few sedums to enjoy.
So, there were quite a lot of successes in the garden last year. However, there were a few failures as well, that I’ll be taking a look at tomorrow. How did your planting go in 2021, if you’re fortunate enough to have a garden/balcony/few pots? If you’re like me, it’s easy to remember the things that didn’t work, and forget about all the many plants that quietly settled in and made themselves at home. After all, a garden is always a work in progress, but it’s those moments of stunning, unexpected beauty that remind me why it’s always worth trying something new.