The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Looking Back - 12 Months In My Garden


At this time of year I think its fun to review the past year in the garden and see what has performed well and not so well. It also cheers me up a lot because in November I have an urge to rip so much out because it all looks so dire. It helps to remind me that it looked beautiful earlier, and will again.

So here goes, beginning last November:

November 2018 and the Golden Border was looking good and full even in the gloomy weather. But when I look at it now, I can see it has grown beautifully this year and is so much more mature. That straight line of the hedge is much less obvious. I don’t think it needs much tweaking now. I have removed a couple of grasses and Hostas and replaced them with evergreen Golden Conifers. And I think that will only enhance it in years to come, especially over the winter months. I have also removed a great lump of green from the centre (near the right on this image). The yellow ‘Ground Cover’ rose ‘Showmeesunshine’ was already looking old, flowering less well (because I was having to prune it too hard), and taking up too much room with green for most of the summer and leaving a big hole in winter, so that has gone and in it’s place is a dwarf golden conifer.

I like this one because it reminds me that after November the garden gets better in spite of the lack of flowers. Everything looks cleaner, sharper and tidier. Also, that lovely Crab Apple ‘Indian Magic’ on the left of the photo has grown beautifully this year and has a much better shape now. It’s amazing how well it has responded to last year’s pruning. Sometimes I am afraid to prune things and this has really taught me a lesson…it’s almost always better to be brave with the pruning saw.

And in January, the crisp sparkling mornings will come and the rain will give way to bright Winter days that kill off all the pests and viruses. And even in the depths of winter, there is still a lot to enjoy when you you grow lots of conifers.

Then February will bring lots of early bulbs. There will be snowdrops in abundance, hellebores and the lovely winter Iris reticulata. And the winter flowering shrubs too. This one is Viburnum bodnantense Dawn, which has already started flowering well before the leaves have fallen in November. Every year I remove the new shoots from the base to maintain a neat tree-like shape. I still need to do it this year. A job for this week.

I’ve chosen this one for March because I can clearly see how much the Cotoneaster has grown, and it’s lovely to see the full bloom of the Prunus subhirtella autumnalis rosea which will be flowering on and off all winter during mild spells.

And this one for April because by this time the sunlight has returned to almost all of the North facing aspect back garden. At this time…in November…it can be a gloomy spot when the weather is dreich as it is now.

And for May….The beautiful dwarf Rhododendrons. Always such a spectacular display of colour. I have moved one of them to allow it a bit more space to shine. They don’t last very long which is a pity, but for this shady, North-Facing spot they are ideal and they grow beautifully in our slightly acidic soil.

It was hard to choose a picture for June. It’s such a lovely time of year in the garden isn’t it? There is so much to enjoy and admire. Eventually I went for this image because it was in June that we made this new feature of the weeping crab in a triangle of Houseleeks. Since then I have replanted the Sempervivums in a bed of sand and gravel to help get them through the winter. So far it seems to be working and I’m so glad I did it because it has been so wet this autumn. I look forward to seeing the blossom on this lovely tree in spring. It will be so much happier in the ground than in its planter.

In July we had a lovely display of Roses in the Patio Border. Since then I have removed some of them because of over-crowding and just because a few of them weren’t very good. I have ordered two new Standard Roses to replace ‘Special Anniversary’ which I have never liked, and the white one ‘Margaret Merril’ which will be moved to the back white-themed garden. So this border will be different next year and hopefully no less pretty. Moving the white rose is another job for this month. Then I shall add Miccrorhizal fungi in the planting hole for the new one, and this makes it possible to plant a rose in the same spot that another rose was growing before. Something that was a big no in previous times.

The weather in August was poor. Very wet and gloomy. I’ve chosen this photo because I have since removed almost all of these plants from around the Garden Pod and replanted them elsewhere. I look forward to seeing them in their new places and also to seeing how well the remaining plants (Camellias, Hydrangeas and a Viburnum tinus) will grow and develop now that they have plenty of room and light around them. It will also allow us to keep the hedge neater in the summer as we couldn’t reach it before.

We didn’t get our usual ‘Indian Summer’ during September…the weather continued wet and miserable. And I have chosen this photo because I was not happy with this border all year. The Rosa glauca, which I love, had got too big and wild looking for this space. Ditto the ‘Ground Cover’ Rose ‘Scented Carpet’ which really was making a bid for domination. Then there was the herbaceous clematis ‘Cassandra’ which grows huge but doesn’t flower until September. So these three have gone and in their place I have planted a Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ as the Centre piece with some Calluna vulgaris around it. And I’m hoping to add another Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’ next spring. I’ve fallen for Hydrangeas this year. They flower for so long and bring so much colour to the border. So this area will be somewhat different next year. And hopefully I shan’t regret losing those two big rose bushes.

This October photo shows one of my favourite shrubs in full autumn glory. This is Cornus florida and I’ve chosen to show it again because I have removed some things from around it and am hopeful of some first flowers next May/June. That’s something special to look forward to. I love the flowering Dogwoods, but they don’t like exposed situations. This one is the toughest and it has grown well in it’s spot, so lets hope it will be happy enough to flower for me. If not next year, then perhaps in 2021. :)

Looking back over the course of the year has reminded me about just how lovely the garden is all year around. It makes all the hard work of tidying up in November all worthwhile when I see just how much there is to appreciate during the winter, and this week I’ll be going out there full of renewed energy cutting back and preparing for a colourful season to come. There are still things to remove and some pruning to be done, and hopefully we can give the grass one more cut (far too wet at the moment) before Christmas. And I have still to add to my winter display on the big shelving.

Some gardeners like to leave the garden to fade naturally and tend to stay out of it during winter. But I need my garden all year around. Sometimes, working out in my plot is the only thing I can do to restore my ‘settings’ when times are stressy and I get overwhelmed with anxious thoughts. So gardening goes on…and on….

More blog posts by cottagekaren

Previous post: Autumn Clear-Out 5

Next post: List of Tulips for 2020 (for my reference)



Really great blog, Karen! Enjoyed reading through the past year in your garden. I felt like I was having a tour, very nice too! You have a wonderful garden, so, much interest going on all year round. I have to agree, I love being out there all the time, winter too. Although the garden is small, I try to find even the littlest job out there as it gives me a lot of pleasure!

3 Nov, 2019


So delighted to be able to view your gardening year Karen,
something we should all do, ( look back) as we do tend to forget how beautiful our gardens really are, November can be such a dreary month, and quite depressing, which makes us want to rush about, removing this, replacing that........we need to stand still and breathe ᕙ( ͡◉ ͜ ʖ ͡◉)ᕗ take stock, because in just a few months time Spring will be upon us, and our gardens will be there to delight and sometimes dismay us, but, that's why we are gardeners , always a challenge....and when it works....oh the pure joy. (◍•ᴗ•◍)✧*。.......
Love seeing your garden, inspiring, you have created a masterpiece... ✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧

4 Nov, 2019


Wow, t'hank you! what wonderful comments from you Kate and Angela. Kate, I have had much tinier gardens than this one, and size is really quite irrelevant isn't it. Its about being out there, enjoying nature and creating an impression of paradise as you view it. Heaven is a garden, of that I am sure. :) Angela, you are so spot on with your November routine. Stand back, breathe and don't mess too much. The rain here was so hard last night it actually literally terrified me. It came on absolutely instantly battering on our velux bedroom window so hard I woke up with such a shock and couldn't get back to sleep for at least an hour. It was so frightening. A lot of the pebble dash quartz came off the house and even a bit of the plastic fascia came off from underneath the guttering. I have never heard rain like it in my life! It has continued raining all day long and been strong winds too. The field behind us now has a secondary burn winding through it, and the main dual carriageway to Arbroath has closed again this afternoon. Water standing everywhere. Thank goodness we live in a well-drained spot.

Thanks again for your wonderfully complimentary comments. We have had a difficult week as a family and you have raised my spirits :) xx

4 Nov, 2019


A really great blog and a great idea to photograph it over the year so that you can look back rethink on how you might want to jiggle it around, I have more or less done the same thing but am just at the beginning stage of how I would like the garden to look.
You have a beautiful garden, I think the garden pod is absolutely great and it must be lovely just to sit in there, relax and think.
As you say the garden does help when things around you are not going so well

4 Nov, 2019


Thanks for the tour of the garden Karen, it really does look fantastic, you have planted it out with much thought,it looks good in all the seasons which is important and I think I have said this before but the views you have are to die for and they seem to be an extension of your garden, what a joy to sit in that chair and admire all that scenery, on about planting roses I once was told that before planting a rose you should put a banana skin in the bottom of the hole.

4 Nov, 2019


A very good and interesting blog, your garden is beautiful all year round. All of our gardens are like an extra room in our houses, no matter the size, they give us lots of fun and enjoyment and we care about them.

Today I said to my OH how the garden just a few weeks ago was 50 shades of pink and now it's 50 shades of yellow, as all the leaves are changing.

Winter gives us a chance to rest, mind, body, and wallets/purses!

But only if we feel the need for that, the garden is there 24/7, 365 days a year, we can just spend 5 minutes or 5 hours, that's the beauty of having a garden and we're all very lucky!

4 Nov, 2019


You have such a wonderful garden Karen all down to your hard work and care. To see it all year round is a real treat and so interesting. You could make your own calendar of your garden.

I can't wait to get into mine every morning, even if it's cold and wet, just to see what is emerging or which buds are further out than the day before. My winter Jasmine has lots of buds, so in a couple of weeks the starry yellow flowers will be bringing sunshine in.

We can be at peace and very quiet in our gardens, but never alone with all the old friends we've nurtured and cared for and new ones we welcome in.

4 Nov, 2019


Thanks Davey...can't get out there today. HEavy and persistent rain and a lot of flooding everywhere..but not in our garden as we are on a well-drained slope. Lovely photos on your pages, have added you as a favourite. :)

Julien, thank you so much. Yes, our views are what makes this place special :) Love looking out in all weathers. It's always changing. The fields are flooded today.

Sunny, that is so true. Not many people have their own outdoor space when you think of it. Most people live in apartments in cities, or are too poor to have gardens in developing countries. We really have nothing to complain about and plenty to be grateful for. :)

Thanks Janey....yes, peace and quiet is so precious. As for a Calendar, I have found it hard to get sunny photos this year, the weather has been pretty ugly. But hey's Great Britain isn't it!

Thank you all for your lovely and interesting comments xxxx

4 Nov, 2019


Excellent blog. Observing the photos and the description of each one, it was like following the passing of the seasons. Your comments enrich the photos and even inspire me to create a pruning, fertilizing and plant care schedule. Thank you for sharing your garden.

5 Nov, 2019


Thats amazing Aleyna! I am so happy you have been inspired. I almost didn’t publish as I thought it might be too dull for others to read!

5 Nov, 2019


I, too, found your blog very interesting! I like your idea of taking pictures of your garden during every month of the year & then combining them in a blog together with your personal comments on each photo!

You have done, but far, far better, what I aimed at doing in my last blog of our balcony!

I also take photos of our balcony at least once a month, or more often than not, twice!

5 Nov, 2019


Nothing dull about it!
Balcony is right, taking pictures of our gardens during the seasons can result in a very nice blog. Balcony's blog was excellent as well

6 Nov, 2019


Loved your blog Karen ! I have always used Empathy especially when we moved again and it encourages the roots to grow , especially the roses.
Your garden always looks perfect whatever time of year it is.

6 Nov, 2019


Thank you very much! Balcony, Aleyna and Rose. :)

6 Nov, 2019


A very interesting blog. What a lovely garden. Thank you for sharing it with us.

6 Nov, 2019


Its always a treat to take a wander around your lovely garden Karen..

8 Nov, 2019


Thanks Feverfew and Sue! Xx

8 Nov, 2019

Add a comment

Featured on

Recent posts by cottagekaren

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    2 Feb, 2019

  • Gardening with friends since
    9 Aug, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    23 Feb, 2011

  • Gardening with friends since
    26 Nov, 2017

  • Gardening with friends since
    29 Oct, 2013

  • Gardening with friends since
    29 May, 2013

  • Gardening with friends since
    7 Oct, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    26 Feb, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    4 Apr, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    14 Apr, 2011

  • Gardening with friends since
    18 Sep, 2013

  • Gardening with friends since
    14 Jul, 2012

  • Gardening with friends since
    21 Apr, 2010

  • Gardening with friends since
    24 Mar, 2011

  • Gardening with friends since
    22 Oct, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    1 Mar, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    5 May, 2010