End of Year – 2013

It was better, much better than 2012. Things began quite well with a mild winter, until February/March when snow hit and repeatedly came back. It was never particularly deep, just time and time again. So plants which have previously survived much deeper snow, eventually succumbed to the repeated thaw, snow, thaw. I had to pull out a number of large, mature Erysimum that were not only crushed by the snow, large parts of them were completely dead.

Subsequently spring was a bit of hit and miss. After its early start with Snowdrops out early, almost all my tulips died, so late spring – May was a little barren until Alliums bloomed.

After this however, I’m quite happy with the last year. No real complaints for the rest of the year other than a very wet October hindered any autumn tidy/work as I planned to move a lot of plants to my parents’ ready for when I move. Instead it will have to wait until spring or whenever I move.

Because I have been planning on selling the house, 2013 I took a step back from the garden and mostly left it alone successfully managing to resist buying plants other than those to fill gaps from snow killed plants.

The main thing which stands out to me in 2013 is the boom in wildlife – Bees and Butterflies most notably. However, there was also a very clear and disturbing lack of Ladybirds. I am extremely worried about them and only saw at most a handful of red ones (including only one Harlequin). I did, however see a fair number of yellow and black ladybirds. I hope their numbers bounce back in 2014. Wasp numbers were also exceedingly low and they only arrived in the garden very late – I think around May or June when I saw my first. I wasn’t the only person to notice the lack of wasps though, and remember seeing articles on the BBC saying the same.

I don’t actually really remember it snowing in January, but obviously it was quite deep. It can’t have hung around too long though otherwise it would’ve stuck in my memory… Despite the snow, there were still signs of life and early spring plants continued to bloom.

Into February we go, and the garden is moving along nicely, my only concern was that only the white or ‘niger’ Hellebores were blooming; the rest struggled with the snow and many buds died just as they were about to bloom because of the repeated snow/thaw combination.

Finally, March and spring is definitely here, the first signs of insect life emerging as the first Hoverflies are seen enjoying the crocus and the sun. Late snows hit us, still and this is where most damage occurred as plants are beginning to produce new growth but was killed off.

More wildlife in the shape of Butterflies emerge; I think this is perhaps the earliest I’ve ever seen them. I don’t tend to get Butterflies early on in the year – here they boom in July-September. As I had planned to move, many spring bulbs were planted in pots ready to be taken with me. The result was fantastic pots full to bursting with crocus. Whether they’ve survived though, remains to be seen.

For the first time my Meconopsis bloomed! And what a lovely sight it was… I will need to get/have more. I’m not sure they will bloom in 2014 as it was quite dry and they are not in a moist/boggy area. As always I fell in love with forget-me-nots… No surprises there for my regular readers.

This year, was the year of the Geum. I couldn’t stop photographing them… They were so beautiful, especially during ‘golden hour’ when the sun is low/set; a little before twilight.

The first of the Cinnabar moths appeared in July, in previous years I’d only seen one or two but this year it turned out I had lots. And even more caterpillars. Luckily I also had lots of Ragwort self-seeded around the garden; handy for the Cinnabar caterpillars and Gatekeeper and Small Copper butterflies love to feed on them.

For the first time Echinops bloomed and I hadn’t ever heard anyone mention just how much Bees love them! Amazing. Plus, my Angel’s fishing rod bloomed again; double winner. These however were over-shadowed by having Small Coppers in the garden again; I had worried because the previous year was so wet I wasn’t sure if I’d see any again.

September brings with it the first signs of autumn as the garden begins to fade, plants lost their vibrant greens and are less floriferous. At least butterflies were still around and the grasses begin to shine.

October was so wet, I barely managed many photos. It also meant any plants which had begun to change colour kind of stopped changing and ended up rotting instead of being pretty. The rain also meant October was still quite warm and it wasn’t until November when the rain stopped and cooler temperatures arrived that I saw any nice autumnal tones.

November actually was OK, with some golden tones but also still enough blooms and green around that it wasn’t too depressing. It’s always a pleasure to see roses late into the year, and Harlow Carr kept going until well into December.

December is the month not only for festivities, but also for spotting signs of spring… trying not to get too carried away, as there’s still plenty of time for snow to arrive. I’ve attempted some gardening, but we’ve been receiving one winter storm after another, after another. I just can’t get outside. I mustn’t complain though, as I could have it as bad as other parts of the country which are currently under floods. For once I guess I should be grateful Sheffield is built on 7 hills, and in this case somewhat protected in the west by the Peak District as the winds haven’t been *too* bad.

Copyright 2013 Liz.
All rights reserved. Content created by Liz for Gwirrel’s Garden

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24 thoughts on “End of Year – 2013

  1. It’s a feast for sore eyes, having all these highlights at once, Liz! Good too that you had plenty to enjoy despite ‘stepping back’ for the time being. Hope all the plant moves to your parents’ have been successful and that you find a buyer quickly for your house so you can start looking for a new home yourselves. Best wishes for 2014

    • Hi Cathy,

      We’ve already been looking at houses, but not seriously because there’s no point getting my heart set on something only to be disappointed if no buyer comes along for mine. I don’t think I should have many problems as it’s only a small house and is a nice first time buyer place before moving onto something larger or a family home. We’re also only a few minute drive from the city centre – 20/30 minute walk so actually very well placed considering. Houses in the area are moving, just whether they’re massively reduced is something I haven’t looked into and I’m scared to in case it’s much lower than I want for this.

      But yes, an (hopefully) exciting year ahead, including watching for new blooms and growth 🙂

  2. Very nice seeing all the collages from the different months. All the combos look great! Makes me wish I had taken more photographs of mine last year. I will definitely try this year. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  3. What a lovely wrap-up for the year…it was a good one for your garden…odd weather notwithstanding! Isn’t it amazing how much the bees love Echinops…they go crazy for it! I think from reading this again that I need to add some Geums to my garden this year. Happy New Year!!!

    • Hi Scott,

      I’m not one for encouraging people to buy more plants (ha ha, right) but I think Geums would be an amazing addition to your garden. They don’t have much foliage – at least it’s boring – and the bloom stems are tall enough to dance mid-level in the border, so perhaps combining them with some pretty foliage at a lower level is best? I have some grasses around mine so don’t tend to notice the leaves or lack thereof unless I’m stood on the steps up into the garden.

      Happy New Year to you too, and I hope you had a lovely Christmas.

  4. I felt the warmth when I saw those flowers! And your December photos make me want to run outside and look for some spring green — but a major snow storm is predicted. Have a wonderful 2014 — and best of luck with the house sale. I’m facing that same situation here: sale vs. garden.

    • Hi Pauline,

      I’m not sure whether to be sentimental over the garden or not… Nah, I can recreate it should I wish to. I’m worried about not having as much wildlife, but then I’m looking to move near a park or woodland so I should have just as much, if not more so I’m positive that I’m not losing out and am in fact gaining.

  5. Lovely selection of flowers through the year. You have a beautiful garden. I enjoy reading your blog about gardening in Sheffield as it is where I was born and grew up.
    Chloris

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your year Liz – as usual stunning images. Crocus in pots are usually pretty reliable – I have many wee pots of them and they’ve come back for the last 3 years now.
    I do hope you manage to get the plants out when you move. I know I’d be heart broken to leave such a beautiful garden. All the best for 2014!

    • Hi Angie,

      Yup, Crocus are one of the better spring bulbs for coming back. Over the years I’ve lost lots of Iris and suspect this year will be a very barren year for Irises – will have to buy some from B&Q or similar…
      I’m a bit torn between taking and leaving the plants. I don’t want to literally take my garden with me and actually I look forward to a blank canvas. Although there are some plants I can’t be without and will take with me – roses and hellebores for example – but most I aim to either take to my parents’ or leave.

  7. Lovely recap of the year. I hope you can find a new home with great lighting in the garden for your sun-drenched photographs! Not a fun job to sell and buy and move . . . I’m hoping we stay here until the nursing home is needed. Best of luck.

    • Hi VW,

      I’ll definitely be aiming to buy on the other side of this hill, so I get nice winter light and of course the garden will have to be south-facing or somewhere around that. Definitely not north-facing! One of my main gripes with this garden other than the soil is the fact for a few weeks a year I get no direct sunlight to the garden or lower levels of the house. So the first time I begin to notice sun hitting our kitchen is always a beautiful, uplifting day. I suspect it’s also the main reason the previous owners had double doors with glass panes between the living room and kitchen – to allow the sun through as the living room is north (eastish) and would probably be much darker without them.

      No indeed, moving isn’t fun. And the next house is intended to be a long-term move i.e 15/20/30 years. This house was never intended to be for long, and was mainly the first step on the market as such but I was open to the reality that I might want to stay longer. So I’d anticipated 5-10 years here and it’s coming up to our 7th so I’m pretty much on target.

  8. A beautiful reminder of a challenging year Liz. It was as you mention brilliant for butterflies and bees but as you say ladybirds were sparse. I came across more at the allotment than in the garden even though they are only a couple of miles apart. Hope that 2014 treats you kindly and your garden too wherever that might be.

    • Hi Anna,

      I’m hoping the Ladybirds are back next year, even my parents had relatively few compared to 2012 – they had so many in ’12 that they were swarming almost everywhere I looked and had to be very careful walking around the lawn and garden so not to step on them. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth tbh as I do garden for wildlife and use no chemicals, yet my dad does use chemicals!!! grrrr.
      I don’t quite understand why their numbers crashed… I did see their larvae in 2012 and they should’ve still been able to eat aphids regardless of how wet it was.

    • Hi Christina,

      Thank you very much! I can’t wait for the days to lengthen and spring to arrive… Only another month or two to go – when I say it like that, it sounds like for ever.

  9. Hi Liz, splendid tour of your garden tour, you’re such a lucky girl to have all this beauty around you (well, I know it didn’t happen by itself 😉 ). Wish you all the best for 2014 – hope your plans will work out and that’ll be a happier one!

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