My trial gardens on the edge of the city of Amsterdam have taken a back seat in my life this year following the decision to move house. After months of viewing properties, packing and unpacking boxes of possessions and endless trips to furniture showrooms it is finally time to return to gardening and assess how well, or not, things have faired.
Gardening this summer has taken on more the form of a series of kamikaze raids than the leisurely pursuit that the hobby magazines would have us believe in. Visits to the gardens have involved a dash around with the watering can followed by frenzied snatches at towering weeds and ruthless attacks with secateurs at anything encroaching on a path be it flower or flail.
Regular rain in the second half of summer following a mild spring and none existent winter has meant that everything in the garden has grown larger than our gardening books and nursery catalogues would lead us to expect. To say my gardens are full to overflowing would not be an understatement, but surprisingly things are just about under control and I am sure that by next year I will feel more relaxed.
Faced with serious limitations upon the time I had for gardening this year has made me focus on what is really important and necessary to keep up a decent garden display. Yes, there are more weeds around the edges of the borders and paths than I would like to see but there were ways of dealing with them that did not involve hours of kneeling, nor have I felt the need to resort to weedkillers. Understanding how plants grow in garden situations and focussing on the essential tasks of managing them should allow us all to create extensive perennial planting schemes that are possible to maintain over the changing patterns of our lives. Sometimes compromises will have to be made and acceptance of inevitable natural processes, but in the end, a more satisfying gardening experience should surely be possible.
In the following series of posts I will endeavour to summarise my thinking following my summer of neglect.
This was the garden in the previous summer:
And this is the same area this year:
All in all the differences are not that great apart from a few weeds around the edges that have been carefully excluded from my camera’s view.
And, here is the situation in front of my new home where the wrong plants have been used and not managed properly. The perennial borders are overrun with perennial weeds and the sedum carpet over the garage roof is infiltrated with weeds. The contractors plan to kill everything with weedkiller and cover it all with lawn; one mistake to follow another – it could have so easily been so much better.