Our Suffolk Cottage Garden: 2018

What an icey start to the year. this was! We started with snow and it went on for a couple of months. This was pretty deep and the snow drifted on the land around our cottage, here by the Suffolk coast.

We had moments of seeming reprieve, when it seemed at last that the thaw had set in, but then the freeze would return and large icicles would form. These were beautiful to see, so it was all a joy.

My dogs thoroughly enjoyed scamping around in the deep snow and they would thrill at chasing each other round the garden, which was basically buried.

At such times, I don’t worry about the fate of our plants. What will be will be and I certainly did not restrict where the dogs would run, even though I knew that flower beds lay under their excitable paws. It’s more important to me that they just had fun playing.

Plants have been around a long time and have learnt to survive winter, if they are of the same environmental conditions as we find in our localities. Of course, if you have plants from another territory, then they may need to be either brought indoors for winter, or given a protective wrap to see them through the cold seasons; but don’t forget to water them, beneath their wrap until it gets icey. When it is icey, the thaw will water them. We risk causing roots to freeze if we water plants during freezing temperatures. This may seem obvious, but it is a simple error that people (myself included) sometimes make.

It had started to feel as though we were living in Narnia, but finally the snow melted as the great thaw set in. My work then started, for the garden was by this point a muddy mess and the long cold winter had certainly made it hard for the plants to get a good and early start at coming forth for spring. On an unpleasant note, this is also a time when dog owners discover the little frozen gifts left by their dogs, that had fallen beneath the snow! Yes, you want to get that cleaned up very quickly indeed!

This would be a year of socialising in our garden, at a greater level. There were going to be more family and friends coming to stay and there were going to be some events which would see more gatherings in our garden. So, it was essential to get planting and to make the garden a place that we would all want to spend time. This involved cleaning up, weeding and planting the flower beds, getting the hedge clipped and adding hanging baskets. I also like to hang bunting; it makes a garden very cheery,

The focal point of the garden is, of course, the patio. I think if you are in the Americas, you might call this a lanai? A lanai is much the same, a place for outdoor entertaining and named after the Hawaiian island of Lanai, where outdoor living is customary in such beautiful weather. Here, in England and the wider United Kingdom, we have to cope with all weathers and often not many days or weeks apart, so it can be tricky to plan outdoor gatherings. This is why we love the impromtu gatherings that are a joy in our friendship group.

Digby is a mischievous dog. He’s always trying to catch mice, shrews and moles. Sadly, he caught three moles this year and I was not happy about that.

We keep a little pool for the dogs. Digby enjoys a play in it, in hot weather, but Oscar is less interested.

I also decided to make a small veg patch again, in the garden. it was only about 5ft x 4ft and yet it produced a very considerable amount of vegetables through the year. I grew runner beans, French beans, bell peppers, courgettes, rhubarb, chillies, tomatoes, onions and more. The key is to ensure to add fertiliser (natural manure rather than chemical feeds) to your veg patch and to keep the space in use. When you harvest your veg, get the next lot planted straight away, to keep your veg patch productive. Water daily and fertilise again each time you harvest.

I did add a fence around the veg patch, with chicken wire. This kept both dogs and rabbits away!

So, the garden was taking shape. I was increasingly familiar with what would grow well; such as delphiniums, lavender, roses, potentilla, hydrangea, ferns, succulents, erigeron, antirrhinum, petunias, lobelia and geraniums. This was good learning.

I also started adding character, such as this wood carving given to us by our dear friend, Sharon. Placed among the plants, it added something fun and a focal point.

How did you get on with your own garden this year? Did you have snowfall and a long winter to contend with? Do you socialise / entertain much in your garden? Do you grow your own food in your garden? Do please feel free to share something of your own experience, below.


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