End of Month View: Underwhelmed and Overwhelmed

I feel a little bit of both the above about the garden at the moment – a touch underwhelmed about its appearance and lack of vibrancy and a tad overwhelmed about the amount of maintenance that suddenly seems to be required. Having become conscious about the longer term maintenance we have embarked on a reassessment of some of the trees in the garden, as mentioned in some recent posts and evident in some of today’s photographs – but perhaps much of the other maintenance is a seasonal requirement that is always necessary at this time of year as the garden begins its gradual slump towards hibernation. Posting photographs of the garden at the end of the month is a great way of recording differences from year to year, and I am grateful to Helen, the Patient Gardener, for hosting this meme. Don’t forget to look at the map of the garden if you need to check the layout of the garden as you look at the photos.

Firstly, directly behind the house the trees in the background appear to be still in full leaf but in fact have been shedding the odd leaf or two for a few weeks as a result of the dry summer. The ladder was necessary to reach the apex of the gable end and summer prune the wisteria, whichΒ  I did yesterday – but delaying the summer prune from midsummer’s day to the end of August for the first time had the undesired effect of allowing the tendrils to start wrapping themselves round the solar panels – not a good discovery to make.

EOMV.Aug14.1IMG_2926To the right is the streamside area with the reclaimed topsoil that forms a new bed which will be planned (sort of) over the winter. The 3 pillar fruit trees are still in situ up to their ankles in soil and will be moved later in the year. Two hazel trees and a holly have been removed from the hedgeline to the right, fortuitously providing a location for some species roses.

An ash and a wild cherry have been cut down to their trunks at the far end of the woodland, already substantially improving the quality of light here and in the adjacent border, but producing a copious quantity of timber and leaf to deal with. The shredder, still under guarantee, is on strike so it is a slow job.

EOMV.Aug14.2The Golfer had just finished dealing with one batch of trimmings before the next photo was taken – he had moved all the potted hostas out of the way and this sunken area has been piled high with the smaller offcuts. There are odd spots of interest in the borders, but no cohesion whatsoever and a distinct lack of appearance of asters and performance of penstemons:

IMG_2929The clematis colonnade is devoid of flowering clematis other than a strand of Ernest Markham and there is only an occasional flower on the geranium at their feet. The sweet pea fence to the left has been pretty successful this year, with annual sweet peas this year supplementing their everlasting cousins.

IMG_2930The woodland edge border, viewed from both ends, has changed little over recent months, although the thalictrum in the right hand picture was removed later in the day, having finally been deemed just too tall:

EOMV.Aug14.3The revamped bold and bright borders, being neither bold nor bright, have been a disappointment:

EOMV.Aug14.4The fruit cage is undergoing changes this year, with some old bushes being replaced and the pillar fruit trees finding a new home here; today I have been tying in loganberry canes and generally beginning a tidy-up. The main greenhouse is chocabloc with tomatoes and peppers and currently a satisfying place to visit as it amply displays the fruits of my labour:

EOMV.Aug14.5The cutting beds have been the subject of a learning curve but are producing some flowers for admiring and cutting, and there is still room for crops like squash which is finally climbing up the purpose made support instead of sprawling along the path:

EOMV.Aug14.6The blue & white borders have worked hard but are now having a break – I am especially pleased how well the two ‘Snow Goose’ roses are establishing against the wall, already requiring me to extend the wiring framework for them.

EOMV.Aug14.8I gave the lavender in the rose garden a light trim today, quite pleased with how well the plants have filled out to underplant the roses. Meanwhile the roses, despite being past their best, have generally performed well this year and no doubt deserve a break – I wonder if I should feed them more than I do?

IMG_2942Back down near the house, the species snowdrop border quietly lies in waiting with some other attempts at green and white interest in the interim, and Annabelle is a star in the hedge border.

EOMV.Aug14.7IMG_2937Elsewhere there are some pots which have done well despite a lack of watering, but generally the garden seems to have run out of steam a little earlier than some years – or does it always feel like this at the end of August? Well, at least I have the excitement of a large new planting area to plan – and the joy of watching new seedlings emerge! Then next year it all begins again….!



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31 Responses to End of Month View: Underwhelmed and Overwhelmed

  1. Helen Johnstone says:

    Oh dear you sound fed up just like I was a month or so ago. I think you have done loads but they have been significant projects which have distracted you from day to day things. I think you are being very harsh. I do like your new border and the bench it looks quite exciting and I am looking forward to seeing what you are going to plant in it.
    We are going to have to have a significant part of the big willow removed in the next month or so and I am dreading the mess it will make and the amount of debris we will need to get rid of. On the plus side I am hoping that light in the top corner will improve.

    • Cathy says:

      I am sure there is an element of truth in that – a new project will always be more enjoyable than the day-to-day stuff πŸ˜‰ You will definitely notice the difference when your willow has gone – I was amazed at how much extra light there was when the ash and cherry went, far more than I would have thought. The trunks also need to be cut down more once the current debris has been disposed of.

  2. I agree that you have so much going on even with all the work to do…I have not been in my garden doing much since late April as we cleaned the garden…after that nothing has been done and I am overwhelmed. But eventually I will get to it…

  3. Pauline says:

    We seem to feel the same about our garden, mine has certainly run out of steam early this year. I think maybe the rain came too late to rescue it, so I must water in future if we have another drought.
    You have certainly been far busier than I have, I am impressed with all you have been doing!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Pauline – it’s reassuring to know others feel something similar. And as as well as watering I think I could do with feeding my borders which I have not really done in the past, not systematically anyway

  4. Julie says:

    Oh I can relate to this, my own garden needs grabbing hold of, I find it tricky to strike a balance at this time of year, between tidiness and what to leave for wildlife and interest over the winter. I like August and September too as it gives me a chance to think through plans and changes, without any pressure of time.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh indeed – I have half an urge to do a massive tidy up of tired borders, but as you say they can still provide interest during the winter, so I shall just do judicious tidying and trimming instead

  5. Anna says:

    Your post title captures how I’m feeling too Cathy but I do think that this particular August has not been kind to gardens or gardeners. Glad to read that your greenhouse is giving you cause for pleasure. As you conclude there’s a new year on the horizon πŸ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      The greenhouse does indeed look promising with the tomatoes and peppers – although there has also been some limited success with flowers grown from seed in it earlier, but not as much as I would have liked. I think this moment of slight discontent has just come that bit earlier this year. Hope your allotment has at least been reasonably successful, Anna.

  6. Annette says:

    It’s funny – a lot of people complain that they haven’t much left in the garden at this time of year. I seem a happy exception as there’s still so much to cherish and so many flowers. Also, it’s the time to relax and be merry as there’s not that much to do. Guess the dry weather didn’t help, Cathy, so don’t worry. As for the things that did disappoint you – it’s a chance for change and innovation. You’ve done some serious work, fair play to you both. It’s important to be ruthless at times. Have a great week!

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Annette – I am philosophical enough to know that you are quite right and it was only a momentary loss of bounce. I shall be changing and innovating like a good’un in no time – and being ruthless too, as the thalictrum already knows!

  7. Christina says:

    Just think Cathy, if you lived in Italy you might have that feeling of it all coming to an end in late July! I think a lot of your garden is still looking quite good, it is difficult when there are only one or two of each plant for there to be a huge impact. What you gain in the detail you lose on the overall effect.

    • Cathy says:

      That could well be the nub of why the garden tails off like this, Christina, with the dotty effect of individual plants instead of groupings. I would like to think that as the newer plantings mature they will fill out to provide a reasonable compromise but it will never have the same impact as mass planting on a larger scale. I will just have to work at ensuring the plants I do have make the maximum impact they can – so OUT with the poor performers! πŸ™‚

  8. sueturner31 says:

    We are going through a bit of a tidy up …and I mean a large chopping trees and clearing areas…..we need it but it’s so heart breaking too.. πŸ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Indeed, and with us the ash and the cherry are a bit different from the hazels and hollies as the latter two are all self-seeded but we bought and planted the former two ourselves

  9. Hi Cathy, you sound weary. I think your garden looks full of interesting areas and your roses and veg in the greenhouse are a great success. Sometimes when we are in the midst of all that needs doing it is overwhelming. I find that tackling one little job, such as you did, sorting the wisteria, is enough for one day. Prune, tidy, then bin it, which sometimes takes longer than the pruning, then sit back and be satisfied that you have got one of those jobs done. Tomorrow is another day and it will all still be waiting. You cannot expect to get it all done in a day, expecially in a garden whcih is so full of lovely plants and features. Give yourself a break. I think your end of month view was great.D.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thank you Dorris – you are saying exactly what I would be saying in my ‘normal’ mode. So no, not ‘weary’, just a minor blip! One of the issues is having such a wide range of interests, not just the garden, and despite being ‘retired’ there are just never enough hours in the day for all the things I would like to do – but of course I wouldn’t want it any other way, certainly not sitting at home twiddling my thumbs in front of the television all day (television – what’s that?!). I have in fact been doing exactly what you say – sticking to a section at at time – wisteria then, fruit cage today, tomorrow extending the wires for Snow Goose. Thanks again…

  10. rusty duck says:

    Conditions haven’t been ideal this year, I think we are all feeling that. It is drizzling here once again today, and will take another day at least for the wet clay soil to dry out. It’s so frustrating when there is much to do and we can’t get at it. Easy to feel overwhelmed.

    • Cathy says:

      I think I am back to my positive self now after my low key EOMV!I know we had a wet winter and a dry summer but in fact the weather hasn’t really affected what can be done in our garden here as the soil is very accommodating. Mind you, there were a few times over the summer when a very wet day would have been helpful to make me stay inside and catch upon other stuff! Hope you dry out soon so you can get on with YOUR jobs!!

  11. Cathy says:

    I know what you mean about the amount of work overwhelming at this time of year…. The weather has to be dry for me to risk clambering through the rockery, so I am waiting and hoping I will have time to get everything done! Autumn seems so early here too this year, but perhaps you’re right and we always think that.

  12. bittster says:

    It does sound like a lot of work done and a lot of work to do. I had the same feeling in June and July, but the color and growth made it much easier to tolerate. Fortunately now my only emotion is boredom…. I’m waiting for something exciting to happen, and even though things look nice I think I’m ready for a change. I don’t know how people in the tropics do it. I like the clean slate of winter.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I think it comes to us each year, just not at exactly the same time and perhaps we get caught up in the momentum and forget that it’s all quite normal πŸ˜‰

  13. I wonder if the early start to our summer has led to things running out of steam earlier and so an earlier autumn? I’ve been noticing how the trees in the wild have been colouring up already, starting in August, which seems very early. We picked our apples almost a month earlier, this year. It’s often a sad sight, gardenwise, at this time of year. It can come upon you quite suddenly, realising that parts of the garden are past their best and need drastic attention. But at least it opens up, not just light, but also new possibilities. I agree with Doris’s comments – a bit at a time! You have so much to be positive about, and the seeds for next year!

    • Cathy says:

      Like Doris, you are right too – and it probably is the suddenness as well as the earliness. Definitely opens up possibilities though – I already have a half-baked idea for the end of the woodland where the ash and cherry are/were! ps our cooking apples are almost all picked now as well, WEEKS earlier than last year, yet strangely the tomatoes are no different and only just beginning to ripen

  14. Cathy up here things seem to certainly be changing to autumn earlier than last year, it’s always so variable, a couple of years ago it was the other way and plants that shouldn’t be were still flowering in November, it’s so fickle, I’m amazed at how light your woodland looks now, opportunities for more under planting, it’s difficult to plan some flowering all through the year and then there is the foliage, planning can be very difficult and even when you think you’ve got it sorted the plants don’t behave as they are supposed too!!, I think your garden looks good and there are lots of positives, it’s more than half full not nearly half empty, Frances

    • Cathy says:

      Oh yes, and I am always a half full sort of person anyway so I was just having a minor blip, I think! The difference in the woodland surprised me too – allowing more light to the borders was uppermost in my mind, so this is an added bonus. Not sure how I will take advantage of it yet….

  15. This might sound bizarre, but thank you for taking photos showing the mess that pruning makes, I find that the pleasure that neatening and thinning mature shrubs and trees can provide often gets completely overwhelmed by the clear-up, particularly if the shredder stops playing ball. Been there, got the T-shirt! I also think you need to remember how magnificent your garden looked in early and mid summer, with all your roses and clematis. I’m not sure it is possible for any one border to look wonderful all through the year, but you have a new border to plan (always exciting) and if you focused your hot borders on late summer flowering perennials and grew dahlias in pots, you could have a wonderful dose of late summer fire and pots of jewel-like colour to pep up areas that had done their thing already. You have a beautiful and creative garden, which you work hard in. No wonder both you and it are feeling a little knackered at the moment!

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful and considered reply, Janet – much appreciated. And good to hear from you too (wondered if you had not been well…)

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