And so the year turns again. As we move towards the 2020s, we look back at the high and low points of 2019 in the garden and allotment with the annual Reclaiming Paradise Awards.
Most successful vegetable
My garden and allotment are all about vegetables and this year has seen a great crop. Among the successes have been: Swiss chard, peas and beans, potatoes, tomatoes, marrows, courgettes, cucumbers, sprouts:
The peas come a close runner up, but the winners for 2019 are the onions, overwintered in the garden and on the allotment, followed by a second summer crop on the allotment:
They didn’t win any prizes in the allotment show but they made beautiful soup
Most magnificent flowers
Flowers take second place to vegetables in my garden but there are a few that bring me such joy that I have to make space for them. These include snowdrops, daffodils, roses, sweet peas, lavender:
Sweet peas usually die back in December but this one seeded itself in a pot and kept growing all through the winter
and continued to flourish, while its cousins at the allotment won first prize at the allotment show
Along with these favourite flowers, there are also some shrubs that bring joy and all sorts of things that self-seed themselves and appear unplanned in the garden: winter jasmine, yellow poppy, viburnum flower, California poppy, hamamelis, self-seeded viola
This year’s award goes to the orchid which appeared in a pot of tarragon, quite unplanned, tiny, but perfect
Most impressive wildlife
There were foxes in the garden, sneaking past the apple tree on a cold winter morning, and leaving footprints on the raised beds in the autumn but it is the fox at the allotment that allowed a really close up photograph
The frogs were plentiful in the pond, and at the allotment
and I found a toad in the the allotment compost heap
and newts in the pond in the garden
There were lots of ladybirds in the front garden in the spring;
and there were bats in the back garden in the summer evenings, but the butterflies win the prize this year
Most exciting garden development
The most exciting garden development was the purchase and construction of a seed palace to replace my crumbling plastic growhouse:
The palace has been a great success, particularly with bringing on seedlings in the spring. It also hosted tomatoes and cucumbers over the summer and is still in use, keeping some sweet peas going over the winter.
Most unsuccessful vegetables
The blog celebrates joy and success in the garden but sometimes things don’t go so well. This year the prize goes to my overwintered broad beans at the allotment. Only one plant survived from a whole bed of beans but it grew stoically
and produced an early, if small, crop and some beautiful flowers
Successfully saved seeds
Last year I saved a lot of radish seed, bringing yet more radish flowers and two whole radishes
but the radish flowers won a prize at the allotment show (in the annual flower arrangement category).
I also saved seeds from nasturtiums and California poppies
and the magnificent peas, with more beauties in store for next year:
As well as vegetables, the garden and allotment keep us in fruit almost all year round. This year has brought us rhubarb, raspberries, strawberries, plums, redcurrants and some promising cherries, although those were eaten by the birds again before we got to them:
The winners for 2019 are the apples, with the Howgate wonders topping the league once again – there were over forty of these monstrous wonders on my still quite small tree and we still have a few left to see us in to 2020:
This year I also planted a pear tree so let’s see whether the pears can join the winners in 2020.
No garden year is complete without battles with pests of various kinds. Most of my battles have been with slugs and snails but one advantage of blogging and tweeting is that you can learn to appreciate their small beauties:
Most triumphant use of garden produce
Some of the most popular posts on the blog are those which show uses for garden produce. 2019 has been another bumper year for soup, cake, stews, jam, chutney and pesto
But sharing first place, are three preserves which all featured in our Christmas festivities this year: solstice marmalade, redcurrant relish and marrow and ginger preserve
We’ve been eating the solstice marmalade every day for breakfast. It tastes wonderful and would tempt me to grow my own oranges if that was at all possible. The redcurrant relish was experimental but turned out very well and had pride of place on the Christmas dinner table. The preserved marrow was another attempt at ‘mock preserved ginger‘, much more successful than the one I tried a couple of years ago. It makes no pretences to be anything like preserved ginger but was rather good with home made potato scones for Christmas breakfast.
Most impressive weather
2019 was not quite as impressive as 2018 for weather but the frost in November and December allowed me to appreciate some garden beauties at a dark time of year:
2019 has had its struggles but this year we celebrated our tenth year in the house and garden and, astonishingly, five years of blogging. Some of my longstanding friends and family are faithful followers of Reclaiming Paradise. I’ve also made new online friends and shared the joys of gardens with you while discovering your own gardens, vegetables, flowers, pests and disasters. In this blog I try to focus on the positive things in the world and to appreciate the tiny beauties that can be found in the garden.
As the decade comes to an end, I wish all my readers and followers a Happy and productive New Year.