Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A Very Sad Garden

This is my first attempt at creating a collage. I think I'd rather go on working in the garden.

We had a gorgeous weekend, the sun shone, it was warm and the birds sang. Gardener came and we worked for seven hours, with a short intermission for a hasty lunch and frequent cups of tea provided by Beloved.

The flowers shown are Chaenomeles, white anemones, blue anemones, miniature tulips and  yellow primroses.

Gardener and I have been taking a close look at the shrubs, flowering, evergreen and ordinary deciduous ones.
There is a lot of winter damage; most of the hebes have succumbed to the frost, the leaves on the bay tree and an ancient and very large cistus have turned brown and shrivelled, certain to crumble and drop soon. Olearias, nandinas, a hydrangea or two barely hang on, one or two of the Japanese maples have suffered severe wind damage, and all phormiums have rotted away.

Abelias, caryopteris, and ceanothus show no, or very little, sign of life.

So much of the backbone of the garden has been destroyed this winter that it breaks my heart. Herbaceous plants are easy to replace, either by division, root cuttings or scrounging, a favourite way of enlarging your stock among friends and fellow gardeners.

Unless you are a gardener you probably think 'what a lot of fuss over nothing'. 'Just buy new plants'.
Most of these plants have a history; I remember where they came from; some were swapped for other plants, some were grown from tiny cuttings (one or two of which I might even have taken from famous gardens, with permission from the head gardener), for some I travelled to specialist nurseries all over the UK, some have come with me from a previous garden, been dug up and transplanted. Some were given as presents for a special occasion, their growth measuring somebody's passing years.

Of course, they can all be replaced, but it takes a long time for shrubs to grow to maturity. There is still the possibility that some shrubs might recover after serious pruning later on this Spring; sometimes new shoots and leaves will sprout as much as a year later. In the meantime, I will have large gaps in my borders, to be filled with my least favourite gap fillers, here-today-and-gone-tomorrow annuals, silly and brazenly colourful show-offs, only good for tubs and pots and window boxes normally.


  1. Once I would have thought'what a lot of fuss over nothing'. 'Just buy new plants', b ut since Doreen has taken to gardening and I've taken to helping her, your post resonates on many levels. Liked the collage.

  2. I do feel for you - much as I'd like to say see those gaps as opportunities, I know how like old friends some plants become - and how much we even rely on them to be there.

    It was a wicked old winter - probably like a UK winter really should be. Have we learned any lessons?

  3. Hi Friko

    those plants become like friends when you go and tend to them every day and talk to them as I do...and it is sad to see them go...I loved your miniature tulips. I have never seen them and I must say you know your flowers...

    Happy days

  4. friko - thanks for making a fuss!! i'm not a gardener although i have gardens. i admire people who can draw so much beauty from the ground. i love plants, flowers, trees and know what it takes to bring them into this world and then care for them. so make fuss friko! make a big fuss!! steven

  5. Hi Friko: It does hurt to lose mature plants and trees. We have invested so much in them in terms of thought and attention. They offer a unique presence that brings cheer, shade, comfort, and, of course, beauty. Large trees seem to stand as silent, living witnesses to our lives.

    Sorry for your losses.

    Your collage is bright and beautiful. Love seeing and hearing how your garden grows!

  6. Gardening is a lot of work – we have been digging for over 4 days to plant 5 rose bushes. We have unearthed so many rocks that we could make a huge rock garden. We have three bushes in, two more to go. I hope they do well and I would be very sad if they don’t survive. Now will come all the feeding, watering, etc. So I know what you mean when you are devastated that many plants in your garden will not be back this spring. When one loves nature, beautiful plants and flowers, it is hard to see them destroyed. Your collage is quite pretty and colorful.

  7. Lovely pics Friko. We too lost a lot of plants this year with all the frost. :-(
    A x

  8. We lost several shrubs last year when we had record-breaking cold and snow. It was so hard to look around last summer to see the empty spots. On the other hand, some plants survived and came back better than ever - who knows why?
    Now that we have a deer fence we are seeing plants that have never grown more than a few inches, and some that could never show off their blooms. I find myself surprised at the plants that I'd forgotten I had - the deer always got there before me.

  9. One has to keep in mind that a garden is always evolving. We too lost many plants and many shrubs and trees were broken. Spots that were shaded will be sunny now and the nature of the garden will shift a bit more

  10. Great collage Friko. I love to see you photography. Well there is snow on the ground here again today and not a flower to be seen so I don't feel too sorry for you. But I love all the history and connection you have with your plants, I'd love to be there and do the tour & talk with you of your garden. Can you photograph some of the plants and tell their origins?

  11. I have a perennial garden book somewhere that states in the introduction a good perennial garden takes about 30 years...this is sooo true.

  12. Dave King - It takes a gardener to understand that.

    mountainear - I doubt it - as we never know from one year to the next what the weather will bring, we can only go on making the same mistakes over again.

    Delwyn - Of course I know my plants, of course I know the names of my friends.

    steven - thank you steven, making a fuss won't help much, but I will anyway.

    Bonnie - It is true, so much effort, so much hard work, and so much pleasure at the same time; it is hard to see it all destroyed.

    Vagabonde - give them a good start in life, look after them with plenty of tender loving care and they'll flourish. why don't you use the rocks as a rockery? you could import the necessary soil (it won't take a lot of soil to create such a space.)

    Wipso - Of course you have, we'll all be off to The Dingle soon.

    Pondside - I hope that some of mine will be resurrected too. Your deer fence must have been absolutely essential. We only have rabbits, squirrels and badgers, they already do enough damage.

    Vicki Lane - Now there's an optimist. make the best out of what you have. I may have to learn that attitude too.

    maggie - I already have at some time and no doubt will again as I go along. My plants are like friends; almost like my books.

    Tabor - I don't have another 30 years!

  13. Liebe Friko,

    zu allererst möchte ich sagen, dass ich Deine Collage sehr mag, sie zeigt die Blütenfülle der Winzlinge über die wir uns in jedem Frühling so sehr freuen können auf zauberhafte Weise.

    Wenn ich durch mein Gartenreich gehe wird mir das Herz auch ganz schwer, denn genau wie bei Dir, haben die Pflanzen und ich einen gemeinsame Geschichte und jeder Verlust tut mir im Herzen weh, da ich stets mich erinnere, wo ich sie fand und wie sehr ich mich über ihren Zuzug in den Garten freute, die ersten Blättchen und Blüten bestaunte. In diesem Jahr hat der strenge Winter besonders an den Rosen viel Schaden angerichtet und einige wirklich wunderschöne große Exemplare scheinen sich für immer verabschiedet zu haben. Ich traue mich noch nicht, sie ganz und gar runter zu schneiden, aber das Holz ist braun-schwarz und sieht wirklich nicht mehr nach Leben aus. Ein jüngerer Rhodendron hat obwohl auch schon totgeglaubt allerdings bereits wieder ausgetrieben. Er sieht noch etwas nackt so ohne Blätter aus, aber ich denke, er will leben.

    aber die Rosen, die Rosen ... vom Rosmarin, den ich all die Jahre durch den Winter bekommen habe und der auch bereits eine sehr stattliche Größe hatte, will ich gar nicht erst reden.

    allerdings bis Anfang Mai werde ich nichts wegschmeißen, denn ich habe solche "Wunder" jetzt schon einige Male erlebt, wo meine Toten wie Lazarus mit einem Male zum Leben erwachten. Wie war ich froh, dass ich keine Zeit für Entsorgung gefunden hatte.

    Ich drücke Dir ganz doll die Daumen, dass solches sich auch bei Dir ereignet.

    ganz liebe mitfühlende und hoffnungsvolle Grüße

  14. Hi, Friko;
    I feel your pain. Had a similar rude awakening a few springs back when many favorite trees and shrubs were wrecked in a brutal storm. But, you never know... as the season progresses some of your faves might make a comeback. I planted climbing flowering vines at the base of my beat up young saplings. The flowers weaved their way into the trees and covered up a mess while the trees fixed their own damage.

  15. I have lost all sorts too Friko, including a romneya and a melianthus that I really loved. I am trying hard to focus on the opportunity to bring in new plants, and if I am honest the romneya was in the wrong place, but it is sad to lose old friends.

  16. veredit - danke fuer deine mitfuehlenden Worte. Als Gaertnerin weisst du eben Bescheid, wie man den Verlust der Einzelteile des Gartens bedauert. Ich verstehe nicht ganz, dass deine Rosen so gelitten haben; meine sind extrem wetterfest und sie sind so ziemlich die, die am wenigsten beschaedigt sind.
    Warten wir ab, wie das weitergeht; vielleicht kommt ja doch einiges durch.

    Kate - another gardener who knows. Climbing flowers through damaged shrubs and trees is actually a very good idea; that is, if those shrubs and trees survive in the long run. Otherwise you'll have to dig them up and replant them elsewhere; some climbers don't like that.

    elizabethm - will we ever learn not to plant softies in our harsh hills? I don't know that I want to, hope springs eternal, and we don't get that many really hard winters. So Dingle, here we come.
    It'd be best to have rooted cuttings ready to take the corpses place.

  17. Dear Friko,
    in my opinion, worth to become a post card.

    Please have a wonderful Thursday.

  18. robert - thank you for the compliment, uou are very kind.

  19. I feel your pain. I was away last year and the house-sitter 'pruned' an ancient and fabulous wisteria to death. It just isn't spring without it.

  20. I quite agree with you - every plant, shrub and tree has a history. A lilac tree in my small garden goes back to an original planted by my grandfather well over a century ago. (And yes - the original still lives though it belogs to someone else now).


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