Best of 2014

New Year's Day is the perfect time to review the old year, and pick the Best Moment, the Nicest Thing that Happened, the Garden Plant of the Year, the Grooviest Garden, the Most Amazing Garden Improvement, the Most Wondrous Garden Revelation... C'mon, 2014. Let's see what the Head Gardener has to say about you. I've asked Non-Gardening Partner for his input, too, as he plays an integral part in the life of the garden.

 A lovely place in spring.
Afternoon Sun on the Driveway Lawn

We both agree about The Most Amazing Garden Improvement. As a result of the big storm late in 2013, when next-door's pine plantation blew down, our gardens have enjoyed much more daylight, all year. This past winter, for the first time ever, late afternoon sunshine has streamed into the house, with golden glowing sunsets. There's been a lighter, airier feeling all around the gardens, in all seasons.

The Grooviest Garden

The tree-felling has also allowed me to create the Allotment Garden, which is my Grooviest Garden of 2014. It's a collection of oblong areas interspersed with little paths, and follows the driveway down the edge of the property. I built up the 'soil' with loads of organic matter, including old forget-me-nots.

 In late spring - Calendulas and Forget-Me-Nots.
The Allotment Garden

Over winter the Calendulas self-seeded and turned all the beds bright orange. Later in spring they were a frothy, flowery sea of pale blue prettiness. I love forget-me-nots! Now parts have turned into a vegetable garden, with a potato patch, peas and beans, and so on. Other plots contain spare irises and spare daylilies. So groovy.

The Nicest Thing That Happened in 2014

This one's easy, and it's 'things' plural. First of all Winnie the new puppy came to live with us in October. She's a black and white Border Collie. It's not every year that a new dog joins the family. Then in November two new kittens arrived - Tiddles the polydactyl tabby (she has extra toes) and Buster the black (Buster is a girl, too). Animals don't stay little and cute for long, and so I'm making the most of their puppyhood and kittenhood.

 Welcome to Mooseys!
Buster, Tiddles, and Winnie the Puppy

The Best Moment of 2014 was when I actually finished cleaning up all the mess in the gardens down the boundary fence. Such a big job, after waiting for months for next-door to remove the nearest row of tree stumps. And then - kapow! In a day all the stumps were out, leaving behind huge gaping holes (and piles of rough infill dumped on my garden by the friendly tree-ripper-outer man). And some weeks later, after much shovelling, barrowing, and raking - all clear!

My First Woodpile :
Built along the side of the Stables.

The Most Wondrous Revelation was realising that an older-lady with puny arms (me) could stack lots and lots of firewood, that it wasn't a specialist task with secret rules, that she could easily and quickly create a woodpile that wouldn't fall down, it wasn't at all difficult, only needing a minimal application of physics. And that somehow, inexplicably, the act of creating a woodpile would actually be quite enjoyable.

 With bumble bee.
Salmon Pink Echium

Garden Plant of the Year

Amazingly enough, the Garden Plant of the Year for 2014 isn't a rose. Nor is it a particularly special treasure like a tree peony or an orchid. My plantsman friend gave me a pink flowering Echium amoenum which put on the most amazing show this spring. It was unexpected, a total surprise, and I checked it daily to see what would happen next. Wow! So exciting.

It's just not in my nature to dredge up the 'worst' moment out of 2014's gardening memory. I've had a wonderful year. Mind you, some days (and some weeks) I've been wonderfully lazy or wonderfully distracted from the garden. And there've been no extreme seasonal events, like snow, to remember with a frown.

Stinging Nettles

But wait - I can think of The Most Annoying Garden Thing for 2014. All year I've collected and spread trailer-loads of topsoil and compost, sourced from a landscape supplier. And so I'd like to welcome the truckloads of weeds which I have innocently introduced into my garden. I guess I'm OK about the fat hen, but annual stinging nettles? So unfair.

But such a tiny negative in a year filled with such groovy positive things. And it keeps things balanced, I guess. Thanks so much, 2014, for facilitating all my wonderful garden experiences. And who cares about a few stinging nettles? Me?