Looking back...

Looking back over 2017, the year that's just past - so what were the best gardening bits? The revelations? The things I promise to do better in 2018? What did I learn about myself, about life, about gardening in 2017?

Pebbles the New Dog


Some years I give out awards. Non-Gardening Partner becomes a Companion of the Order of Merit, Tiger the tortoiseshell gets a Dame-Hood, these sort of things. But I don't really believe in the official New Years Honours list. Too many rugby players on it, not enough gardeners, maybe? Gardeners don't make enough civic noise anyway. They're too busy growing their own vegetables or helping at the local community gardens.

But getting back to looking back... Perhaps I can still come up with a few personal accolades. An award for the best new idea, or plant. A long service medal (well, that will have to go to Non-Gardening Partner), a finalist for Cat of the Year... I'll do my best to be impartial and try to remember the whole year, not just the last few hectic but wonderful months.

Biggest Challenge of 2017

Easy, this one. The acquiring in September of our new dog Pebbles, a black and white Border Collie, whom the breeder said had 'just a few quirks'. And she was free to a good home - ours. Hmmm. For 'quirks' substitute 'bad habits' or 'behavioural issues'. The first weeks were rather a shock with Pebbles attacking any nice new dog she was introduced to. Oops. This was a 'quirk'? I gave her and me six months to get things sorted. Four months later, and she is ninety percent settled. And I've grown to love her lots.

Other Cats and Dogs

Very early in the year Tiddles the tabby went missing one morning, never to return. Later, we said a more controlled goodbye to old dog Rusty, who tried his very best until the end. But life, arthritis, and kidney failure just got in the way.

 Only just visible.
Rusty and the Willow Tree Garden Path

We finished 2017 being a four cat, two dog family. Perhaps 2018 will see some feline restocking? But wait. 2018 is supposed to be the Year of the Dog...

Biggest Revelation of 2017

Roses do not look romantic and beautiful when they are struggling in the shade. Roses like the sun. Roses sulk, sad and bloomless, in the wrong location. Prune them and shift them. Easy.

Best Flower of 2017

Different plants thrive differently in different years, if you know what I mean. But for 2017, Daylilies are my pick. Not that I actually pick them, you understand. They've just been splendid this year - in the very first month, January, and then right through this December.

So my flower year has begun and ended with a happy Hemerocallis.

Best Idea of 2017

My best idea was NOT to spend hours and hours sowing seeds of flowering annuals. All those hours stuck in the glasshouse were put to much better use outside in my early spring garden. I made sure the self-seeders were alive and well, and bought in packs of special flower seedlings for the patio pots. The perfect compromise!

 Always smiling!
Me in my Winter Garden

What Did I Learn About Myself?

Ha! The biggest life lesson came late in the year, in December. I'd been struggling to look after the dogs without adequate fences. Then I made up my mind I'd do it myself. And so I learnt that I could design and build a dog-fence, a perfectly adequate dog-fence, to stop the dogs wandering next-door. Furthermore, I could make it with material recycled from my own property. Yeay for me!

So that's 2017 done and dusted. Nothing too amazing, nothing too awful. Just a nice year with lots of good gardening, spring, summer, autumn and winter. Thanks for that.

And how about some promises for 2018? Have more patience with Pebbles, and be nicer to Non-Gardening Partner. There's two for a start!