Saturday, 16 November 2013

My Fledgling Garden - A Series

Good grief it's the middle of November already, and I've yet to plant any bulbs into the garden. The steady stream of rain and murk has meant little opportunity for getting out there and working in the garden. And if I'm honest, I've just not been in the mood. No maybe that isn't quite right, but I am a terrible procrastinator and this has followed me out into the garden.

The summer was wonderful here in the UK, and much of the time was spent admiring what came up out of the ground, with a bit of nipping and tucking here and there. September was glorious, and then bamm! St Ives was wet and wild, and I didn't much feel like going out in the howling rain to tidy, dig and plant. And the decking is lethal. I am on a decking downer, but it is here to stay. In my garden at least.

However this week I had a sudden desire to get out there. My 'To Do' list:

  • Clear garden of leaves.
  • Clear out pond.
  • Cut back plants.
  • Final weeding.
  • List and separate Dahlia tubers.
  • Dig out new border.
  • Lift and move shrubs to new positions.
  • Plant bulbs.
  • Prepare vegetable beds.

has been steadily growing because I have not tackled jobs as they needed to be tackled. Tut tut.


I felt a great sense of satisfaction to clear and tidy up the garden for winter. It my look a little bare, but I've noticed new shoots of growth already peeking up from the soil. I haven't come good on my intention to get some more winter colour into the garden, but I have tried to move things around a little to add more interest. I would like some plants that produce berries or different coloured leaves. Maybe I'll treat myself to a couple from the boot sale...

Here in the South West of the UK, it isn't necessary to lift and store Dahlia tubers. I have left some in the ground, but I lifted some of my favourites in order to create new plants to grow in the garden next year. It's really easy to do. Firstly you cut the Dahlia down to a few centimetres above ground level. Carefully lift the plant out of the ground and shake off the excess dirt. Hang the tubers upside down to dry (actually I have never done this before, but it was recommended on a gardening blog so I have done it this year). Pack the tubers in a newspaper or a cardboard box and store them in a frost free place. A shed or garage is fine.

I love this process. Splitting the tubers in order to make new plants is very exciting. Not only do you end up with more plants, it also keeps them vigorous and healthy. It's a similar process to splitting perennials in order to make new plants, and I shall be doing more of that next year. My garden is still relatively young, and the perennials need a bit longer to establish. I will be lifting a Geum plant though. It went mad this summer, and it's bright orange flowers were a great pop of colour. So I hope to lift and obtain new plants for other parts of the garden.

Today I dug out my new border, and I think it already makes quite an impact. I'm really pleased with it. It was another one of those jobs that I have intended to do forever, but just kept putting it off. It was pretty tough on my back, but the physical side was enjoyable too. I enjoy the little hard landscaping that I do. I'm getting better at planning and thinking about how I'd like my garden to look and what will go where. It's a very personal process, and I've come to realise that a little thought and planning does help in the long run. I've even sat down with the packs of bulbs I've stockpiled over the summer, and given real thought to colour combinations, flowering times, height and spread.

There was a big pot washing session, which Olly thoroughly enjoyed. He is looking forward to bulb planting tomorrow. I will grit my teeth and let him help. He has been outside with me helping to weed, snipping plants he shouldn't have, building train tracks on the mud and finding worms and other grubs to feed Betty and Jean. We have been observed by a curious Robin, and when we went inside a Blackbird came into the garden to inspect our handiwork. We two nature nerds loved watching him put his head from side to side as he checked out our day's handiwork. Then he pulled up the biggest worm and flew off.

So I feel an enormous sense of relief, and a good deal of satisfaction that I've managed to tick of some jobs off of the list. Some more have been added, but they are mostly fun things. I have spoke to Marc about my grand plans for next year, and my neighbour is gifting me two huge Jasmine plants from her garden.

But what has been really good for me personally is how much my spirits are lifted by getting out and being productive. I feel good about the days work, and I have that pleasant achy feeling you get from a bit of graft.

It's all good.

Leanne xx


  1. I can feel how much you love to garden and what an important part of life it is for you. I enjoy your garden posts because I always learn something. I didn't know very much about dahlias but now I know quite a bit. And I think it's wonderful that Olly enjoys helping you with gardening tasks. There's a lot to learn from time in the garden and he will have a very comfortable relationship with nature as he grows up.

  2. I have a really long to-do list for the garden and allotment as well, but like you say, it's cold and wet out there! I need to put my hands in the pond and sort it out as well, but I'm really dreading that one. I've lifted dahlias in the past and ended up with a box of empty shrivelled tubers. I kept them in the garage - not sure what went wrong. I kept two pots of them next to the house last year and they were okay. I do love to see what you (and Olly!) are doing in the garden - it's very inspirational. We're buying more flower seeds next year to try and attract bees and butterflies. Your bulbs are going to look wonderful in spring I think, you have some lovely things there.

  3. BRILLIANT! I am the same, a procrastination queen but dragged down by it and i too made a list this week for the garden and got out! i was not quite as productive as you...i dug up my dahlias and found nothing??? i over wintered my to come and tidies the dead tomato plants away and thats it but then i made a list as big as your arm for this next week!!! happy days you should link leanne at Mamasaurus on a thursday for her 'how does your garden grow' linky (if you haven't yet) xxxxx

  4. Your garden will look even more beautiful next year Leanne. You are sharing so much with Ollie that he will never forget.

  5. It gives such a sense of achievement and like you I love data in the garden, I find them so therapeutic. Good food for the soul!! I managed to get some bulbs in in September, and for once I was systematic, I lay out the bulbs, grouped the colours and types and it felt good, even though my little helper got things all muddled up at times. Then the rain came and my health plummeted and the rest never got done, till a week ago when I asked hubby if he would mind, baring in mind he still doesn't know a single plant in our garden, it's REALLY not his thing. Sadly he set to work whilst I was resting and there was no plan or system, so who knows what we will wake up to in spring. At least there will be colour. Well done for getting the jobs done and also for sharing the dahlias with us, I will be planting some again next year and I'm sure I will need to lift them here in the north, so I will bookmark this page. Enjoy your Sunday. Xoxo

  6. Sounds like someone has been very busy! I was going to suggest putting the bulbs into large plant pots if you dont get them into the ground!

  7. see you inspired me again! i went out and brought spring bulbs with the kids today because of this post and we spent till it went dark planting and tidying the gardenxxxxx

  8. We've been very neglectful of our poor garden this autumn. I wish I knew more about gardening and plants, you sound like you've made a good start :) xx

  9. You sound very organised. We need to get some jobs in the garden too. I have never had much success with keeping the tubers over the winter, so I would be interested to find out whether you have more success.
    Sarah x

  10. It's always busy in the garden at this time of year, clearing up from one year and getting ready for the next. I don't think it matters how much you get done, there's always a list of things which still have to wait until next year because the bad weather ends up creeping up on us. I haven't even started digging over the allotment yet but I've learnt that it will wait if it doesn't get done. I've got some allium bulbs which I wanted to plant in the front garden but they're still languishing in their packet, I must get round to it.

  11. I love your garden tales, and the sense of achievement and satisfaction you get from your garden always comes across so well. I really enjoy the "putting the garden to bed" sort of gardening that I do in the autumn - sweeping leaves, cutting back, planting bulbs - it's all very satisfying. I find gardening a very powerful mood improver too. xx

  12. You seem to have got a lot done! Well done - I, on the other hand, am still clearing weeds away before mulching down for the winter, and there are stacks of bulbs waiting to be planted... Listening to the wind howling tonight, it doesn't sound too promising for tomorrow. You are so right though - it's amazing how much better you feel after working outside for awhile!