End of Year – 2012

Time for the yearly round-up…

Well, what can I say? First we began with very mild temps and little or no winter. After that it was downhill and pretty much just rained. I guess we can’t complain though, as we’ve been let off lightly compared to others.

I think Spring 2013 will be a little later than 2012 judging by the growth seen around the garden at the end of December; assuming we don’t get any snow or hit a cold snap, that is.

January 2012

Temperatures were really rather mild compared to previous years and we did have some frost, but otherwise the garden was springing to life already with the arrival of Snowdrops and the autumn cherry in bloom.
I also expanded my Hellebore collection and found the stunning ‘Tutu’ with its gorgeous frilly, almost upright blooms which allow for much better viewing than most other Hellebores.


In February we had a splattering of snow, but as the temperatures were so mild it only lasted a day or so. The main theme for February was more mild weather, and the garden coming into bloom.
I finally gave into some double Snowdrops with the addition of Flore Pleno, and the Crocus Tomasinianus produced its most stunning show yet with my near psychotic obsession to add more crocuses over the past 4 years finally paying off.


Our summer arrived early, in March. It was warm (not quite hot) and we’d had 18 months of very dry conditions leading much of the UK to be in drought. Understandably, the garden was looking beutiful with the spring bulbs and the new growth of perennials, trees and shrubs appearing.


With the arrival of April and hosepipe bans came much needed rain.

The only problem was; it never really stopped.

Of course, at first it was refreshing, and of course the garden relished it!


The rain also meant, cooler temperatures and much longer blooming periods for most plants. This of course was handy for me, because it meant I had more chance to actually take photos of things because the rain was stopping me getting outside.

The plants really, really loved the rain though! And the garden is beginning to resemble a rather lush, tropical island.


I’ve commented on the rain enough now; but I cannot get away from the fact that it did continue to rain, the garden continued to love it and the plants continued to grow – in some cases – to gigantic proportions.

The final extension to the right border was made inbetween the rain whenever there was a day or two break to allow me to dig grass up… I think this extension has worked quite nicely and it certainly remained interesting for the rest of the year. Now I aim to tackle the other side of the border by adding some grasses to the lower end and removing one or two plants so there’s interest when viewing from the house as currently it’s only interesting in early spring and early summer.


During July there was some respite from the rain, thankfully this coincided with the start of the Olympics and meant much of July and August were ‘OK’ and I was pleased just to be able to get ouside and in the end still did next to no work in the garden because any dry days were so precious all I wanted to do was enjoy the time outside sitting on the grass.

As you can see below, some plants grew enormous! The Geraniums and Foxgloves were huge; the latter so huge its shallow roots were unable to hold itself upright – they were easily over 6.5 feet tall.

After lamenting about the rain for the past 3 months and the assumed lack of Butterflies, I was immensely relieved to see the arrival of the Gatekeepers. At first I only had 3/4 and assumed that would be my lot. However they did eventually rise in numbers to around 20 so I was thrilled that they seemingly hadn’t suffered too much in the cool, wet summer.


More dry weather in August meant the Butterflies continued to arrive, and I even found myself experimenting with colours I’ve never been inclined to try… Helenum and Persicaria combine to make a striking yet attractive combination… On paper I would never have tried it. It was a happy mistake as I placed the Helenum around the border trying to find a spot and settled on having it next to the bright red/pink.

The biggest thrill of the month was yet to come… In the form of a small Holly Blue Butterfly which I had never seen before around here! I hope to see more in the coming years and suspect, although its name is a Holly Blue it can just as easily be called an Ivy Blue as they also feed from Ivy and as we have a large amount creeping through from nextdoor I suspect this is the source of my new visitor.


Hopes for an Indian summer were quashed as more rain arrived leaving us with much of the same yet again… I guess it wasn’t all bad. ha.

However, the butterflies were still arriving and actually I had the most Peacocks, ever. I think we maxed out at 8 on the Buddleja at once; until now my highest number was 3. Definitely the highlight of the month for me, and also very pleasing to see that the rain hadn’t had the affect first assumed. This summer the only species I didn’t see in the garden was a Small Copper.


Amazing autumnal colours were the highly of October. There were so many vivid reds around the city; I don’t think I remember an autumn quite so beautiful.

I’d also added quite a few Asters over the past year, so had quite a pleasing show of late colour along with Aneomes and Rudbekia.


By the time November arrived, there is little to talk about. Rain meant the plants died back earlier than the year before, it also meant blooms were quickly ruined and turned to mush.
No work was done, except planting bulbs whenever it was dry enough. However, even this was often difficult because I have clay soil and the ground was very wet so a lot of bulbs have been planted into small pots so I can plant them ‘in the green’ next year.

There was quite a sudden change in the garden and it felt like one day we were still enjoying glorious golds, reds and oranges and the next things had turned black or the leaves fallen and no colour remained.


By the time December arrived I very much felt estranged from the garden. Too wet to get out to clear things or look closely for any signs of spring meant weeks passed by without me once setting foot in the garden. We had a week of hard frosts, however no snow and temperatures generally remaining average. Late December, and the first bulbs can be seen emerging, buds on shrubs are fattening and new perennial crown growth is evident.

Copyright 2012 Liz.
All rights reserved. Content created by Liz for Gwirrel’s Garden.


19 thoughts on “End of Year – 2012

    • Hi Donna,

      I wish I could say it’s a treat right now but that’s being far too kind 😉 Most of it is an eyesore and needs some pretty frost (although I’m not too keen on scraping it off the car).
      Please, please, please let the weather improve this year *fingers crossed*.

  1. Even with all the rain you had last year, your garden was gorgeous. Your photos are simply beautiful. I hope next year we all get just the right weather for a perfect garden! Happy New Year!

  2. Stunning photos again, difficult to choose favourites, they all show you have a wonderful way of putting plants together. I think our gardens did remarkably well in spite of all the rain, and showed us all just how luscious they could be!! Even so, please let it be a little drier this year !!

  3. Great photos which show that although it was such a miserable year your garden was still beautiful. Wishing your a happy and fruitful gardening year in 2013. Best wishes WW

  4. Great photos. It was lovely to see your garden change over the year – and how most plants relished the rain while we gardeners got more and more fed up with the sodden conditions.

    Best wishes for the New Year.

  5. Looking through your photos, you have lots of interest and colour in every month. I do envy your ability to have something interesting in bloom all year round, even if the rain meant you didn’t always get out to see them. We share an obsession with planting more crocus. Every fall I have to add more types, to have something new to anticipate in spring. Since the gardening year starts in April here, those crocus make a big opening splash to the year after the monotony of a white winter. The Galanthus and Helleborus start then, too, so I have to go out everyday to see what is new in bloom.

    Here’s to a great gardening year in 2013, where the weather is a satisfactory compromise pleasing both the plants and the gardener.

  6. Wow Liz! Beautiful pictures, I LOVE that helenium mixed with persicaria, I might copy that… 🙂
    I also loved the pink composition with lupine, allium, columbine etc and the one with salvia and orange poppies. I also have to keep in mind that deep violet aster with orange crocosmia. I wish you and your family a very happy and healthy new year!

  7. So much beauty Liz, despite all that rain. You had some great combinations going through the year, colour and form, all that work is paying off. I am planning a phase of psychotic crocus planting myself next Autumn as a reward for sitting back and waiting to see what is already here. And the shots of the magnolia have me wanting to rush outside and measure up again, to try and persuade myself that I could fit one in and still have a plum tree really, honest, without crowding or cramping… Happy 2013, lets hope for a little less rain and a lot more sunshine in the summer.

    • Hi Janet,

      Have you spotted much coming up in your garden yet?
      I’m sure you have room for a Magnolia – if I do, then you certainly do 🙂 They’re slow growing so even if you don’t, it’ll still be relatively small in 5-10 years time. I’ve had mine probably around 7/8 years and it’s not even 4 foot yet (although, to be fair it’s only actually been in the ground for 4 years of that).

      • Hi Liz, there are tantalising signs of what might prove to be crocuses in the side garden, along with pulmonaria, I suspect most of the other new green shoots are either crocosmia or spanish bluebells, but we’ll see!

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