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End of year musings

If I'm honest, 2022 is a year I'd rather forget. That's not because the garden was a disaster this year, but because everything happening around us was so meteoric that talking about the garden seems rather self-obsessed and trite. Garden goings-on just don't show on the radar compared to the size, scale and impact of matters national and international. The end of the year write -ups in the press absolve me from going through all that, all over again, so maybe I will just focus on the garden, on the basis that more of us will have needed our garden more this year, in order to give us some respite from what was going on around us. But gardening this year was not without its challenges!

While we didn't remotely incur the full brunt of this summer's drought that gardeners over much of the U.K. encountered, this year surely evidenced the impact of climate change. We had a week of abnormally hot days in July where the temperatures exceeded 30 degrees, reaching 34C one day. Scots are just not used to warmth, the average summer month temperature being around 16C, so it was bizarre and really quite unpleasant to encounter such blistering heat, nicely coinciding with my first bout of Covid...

But the lawns didn't go brown (although they certainly slowed down, reducing mowing considerably during June, July and early August), the trees didn't lose their leaves prematurely and we didn't lose any plants of note but we did do a lot of watering. Much more than usual. Granted the pots always need watering (although the Agapanthus did look extremely happy this summer), ditto the raised veg beds, but we had to water key plants in the borders too, something we have never needed to do. So recently planted shrubs and trees (planted in the last couple of years) were all watered every 7 days during the dry weeks as were some plants in the shade border (in the case of the needy Ligularia with her plaintive droopy stems every couple of days). The tree ferns had a daily shower and the bedding was also given a drink when it started to droop; the Cosmos and Dahlias coped pretty well but they didn't properly flower until later in August and September, when the rain returned.

Fortunately, the frost-free autumn generally kept the garden in bloom for a good month longer, and we had gladioli and roses in variety still flowering in early December. It was a long growing season, albeit with a mid- summer hiatus.

So, all in all, the garden fared well. The water lilies and roses have never been so good, particularly during those hot days in July. The grasses in the meadow, despite being shorter this year, bore exquisite seed heads, translucent when backlit by the the late summer sun, and the apple crop was prodigious, including some varieties traditionally shy to fruit. But the high point of this year was the tree we never knew we had - a Pocket Handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata) which flowered for the first time this year, carelessly dropping its pristine white 'handkerchiefs' all around!

Alight, not everything went to plan! We had a killer whitefly explosion in the greenhouse, with consequently a rather short and minimal tomato and cucumber season. The hens developed a taste for my prized Livingstone daisies (Mesembryanthemum) and we tried various green water remedies in the goldfish pond, all to no avail, although curiously and rather frustratingly as I write this, the water is now clear, revealing the orange torpedoes slowly cruising through its depths.

Tomorrow, we enter the New Year. My resolutions I'll share with you another day, but hopefully 2023 will be one of restoration, calm and some stability. May it be so for you and your garden!

Best wishes for 2023.

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