Ups and downs

As the year comes to an end, looking back over our gardens' successes and failures seems a sensible tradition to follow, to learn from our mistakes and recognise where we can do better is no bad thing in the garden as it is in the rest of life.

This year I thought my meadow lawn was splendid, but apart from raking seed into the bare bits and keeping my husband away from his mower I can take no credit at all, the wild flowers just love my free draining soil, as do the tulips.

The red ones in the grass were so cheerful with the buttercups, the deep dark burgundy 'Ronaldo' and the pale cream 'City of Vancouver' were just lovely and would have been even better if I'd planted them together instead of at opposite ends of the garden, so I've ordered more for next year and will do just that.

Some short and squat shocking pink ones whose name I have forgotten were a big mistake, they disgraced the front border for weeks this spring, so I've made a mental note to pick them as they come into flower next year before they can shriek at more unfortunate passers by.

Embarrassing as the horrible pink tulips were, they paled into insignificance in the face of the dismal autumn fruiting raspberries which I neglected so badly that from a double row I picked no more than a handful of berries. Left smothered in weeds and unwatered who can blame them, but being at the back of the house at least my failure was private.

A shame though that the pond is out of sight too, the plants around it did beautifully, much to my and my bees delight.

A big surprise were the French beans which produced the loveliest pale apricot and cream flowers for months, despite that we only had a few meals from them but you can't have everything and if our gardens teach us anything it's that.

Every year has its ups and downs but one thing we gardeners have in common is an unfailing optimism and belief in the promise of another year.

As this one ends and our gardens appear uninviting, look closer, the hellebores are in bud and under the ground things are moving, bulbs are getting ready to push their noses up through the soil and a whole new cycle of life is just about to begin.