Garden // A month by month guide {another year, a lot of blooms...}

September 22, 2017

I've been meaning to write a garden update for an age now. But as per usual, time has escaped me and now it's the middle of September! But actually it's pretty good timing as I probably left you talking about the garden this time last year? So I can go through, month by month with what we've planted when, what kind of jobs you should do seasonally and of course it's a good excuse for me to share a load of photos of the garden evolving and growing through the seasons. It's mad looking back on last November now when it's all looking so full, yet that time will be here before we know it and I've already started on buying bulbs ready for Spring! So here you have it, the long requested full guide to hashtag rvkgardenlove .... 
You can see all previous garden posts here and here which show how we got to this stage that we're at now and the types of plants we put in/digging out all the borders etc. You can also see this recent post on Rock my Style with some professional photos.

N O V E M B E R 

By this point the garden is really dying back so you might want to have a tidy up but we often leave ours until the Spring so that the leaves can act as a mulch for the soil over winter.

  • After one or two mild frosts, when your dahlia stems start to go black you want to dig them up carefully and store them without dirt in a cool dry place that will be frost free. We keep ours in the shed in some newspaper. I need to try and label mine this year so we know where to plant them next year. 
  • This is the month for thinking about Spring bulbs. You can buy and plant them earlier but November is recommended for bulbs like tulips and alliums. 
  • We buy our bulbs from a mix of local garden centres, Costco and even Columbia Road flower market. 
  • We plant both in the ground and in galvanised tubs. Follow the instructions on the back of the pack as to the planting depth. We created channels to plant our allium bulbs for a uniform display in the Spring but you can go for a more naturalised random result which also looks good.

Planting alliums. 

The garden before our extension last November.

Building the summerhouse. Full post on that here.

Tulip bulb planting. See previous posts on planting up bulbs here.

Store your bulbs with chicken wire over the top to stop the squirrels from digging them all up.

After cutting the grass for one last time whilst it wasn't too wet, we left the garden completely until the end of February time. Look at all the frost! 

  • Depending on the kind of winter we've had, some bulbs might start to appear around February. By the end of the month, the weather had started to warm up a little so we spent a day in the garden clearing and cutting back a lot of the winter mess/old plant growth. A lot of our garden is full of cottage plants which are perennial and will come back year after year. 

We tidied everything up, moved some of the bulb displays into visible areas now that they're flowering and started looking into a plan for this year's growing.

We had a lot of plants already in the ground but I can never resist trying to squeeze a few more in when they look all fresh and green. Even the supermarkets sell great perennials these days. People always ask me what kind of plants to look out for. I love a mix of roses, lavender, hollyhocks, foxgloves, Japanese anemones, hydrangeas, lupins, dahlias and peonies dotted in with annuals which I grow each year like sweet peas and cosmos.

The garden still looks really bare at this point but there's some new growth as the plants start to wake up after winter. And lots of blossom buds.

I cut back the roses at this time of year, to about 1/3 of their size. I might write a whole blog post on growing roses if you want?

M A R C H 

In March we think about potting up our dahlia tubers which we stored overwinter in the shed {frost free}. You can see this post for more on growing dahlias. We also start to sow seeds - we mainly focused on cosmos and sweet peas this year flower wise. Then lots of vegetables for the allotment. See these posts for more on sowing seeds.

The shed got painted and decking created.

A P R I L 

April is the real start of growth in the garden. The clocks have gone forward, there's suddenly a lot more daylight and it should start to be a lot warmer. The garden looks so green at this point as everything is gathering energy, leaves like solar panels soaking up as much light as possible.

It's also more likely to have weather where you want to get outside and in the garden a lot more. We arranged all of our pots and thought about making it look good for the summer ahead.

The result of November's bulb planting. An Easter display by our front door.

These hydrangeas were all planted last year, some are a few years old. They look dead over winter but then come back with fresh leaves and flower buds.

By the end of April the first of our allium buds started to open. 

M A Y 

In May our garden always looks fresh and zingy, the very first of the roses appear and the alliums begin to look at their best. Our planting display worked!

The rest of the perennials are getting bigger.

The borders begin to fill out and we plant a few new bits if patches look bare {saving space for dahlias and cosmos later on}

Our garden starts to look like a garden again!

Meanwhile, the cosmos seeds have come on in the greenhouse and we plant out sweet peas.

When the last risk of frost has passed, normally towards the end of May, and the weather has improved, we plant out the dahlias. By now they should have leaves and roots from the tubers. You'll want to protect them with as many slug pellets as you have available.

They start off small to begin with but quickly start growing once in the ground.

Alll the slug pellets.

I start to plant up new containers for the summer with hydrangeas and geraniums. And once all the frosts have passed, plant the cosmos seedlings around the garden filling any gaps {again protecting from slugs}.


June is my favourite ever time for gardens, cottage plants are at their best. The roses and foxgloves especially.

I don't think you can ever have too many roses in a garden, most of mine are David Austin. They like open space with a good amount of sunlight and water.

I can never stop taking photos at this stage.

Foxgloves will self seed so wherever you plant them, in a couple of years you should have a lot more. They're biennual, the first year the plant will form and the second with flowers. They then seed to start the whole process again.

This is David Austin sceptr'd isle.

Peonies and lupins in the borders.

As the days get warmer, you may need to start watering. We had such a dry start to the summer this year. Always water out of the direct sun, either in the evening or morning and give a good soak a couple of times a week rather than little and often. The main task for this time of year are keeping the weeds at bay, just pull out any you see and stay on top of them. And one of the best jobs, deadheading the roses! You must keep cutting the flowers for them to produce more. The grass normally grows like crazy at this time. 

Rose heaven!

J U L Y 

By July pretty much everything is in bloom, the hydrangeas are fresh, some perennials may just be going over but the annuals will take over and the dahlias might start to bud up. Again, at this point just keep watering, weeding, cutting the grass and deadhead.

I'm going to write a separate post about hydrangeas - what kind of things do you want to know?

I love echinacea.

Sit back and enjoy the blooms {and BBQs!}

By the middle of July we finally finished all the landscaping and new patio area. I'm going to put all the details/before/during/afters of that in a separate post. But we were so happy to be able to enjoy the rest of the summer and set up a table/BBQ etc.

By this point our garden was having a midseason break. The roses had finished their first flush and the dahlias were growing bigger and bigger before budding up {look at the size of those bushes above!}. We fed everything to give it energy to keep flowering and luckily we had a lot of rain to refresh everything after a very hot dry start to the summer {our grass looked baked for a few weeks!}

A U G U S T 

Our dahlias seemed to take forever to bud this year but once they started flowering around August time, they haven't stopped since.

We finished off the patio area and planted up a rolltop bath {more on this in a separate post}. I can never resist buying bargain hydrangeas whenever I see them and these were just £6 each, overflowing with flowers. You can plant up plants like this at any time of the year.

We had a few late August really hot days so made the most of the last of summer in the garden.

And the greenhouse got finished! Since this photo we've also finished cladding the breeze block steps and wood on display lower down. 

I get lazy at this time of the year with the garden, most things are just about over and so I don't tend to water anymore unless it's crazily hot and everything looks really thirsty. By now the mornings and evenings tend to be dewy and cooler. 

S E P T E M B E R 
And that's pretty much where we're up to right now. We've just cut back all the lavenders in the middle of these beds. You want to cut back as harshly as you can, leaving just a little bit of green above the old wood. Do it now if you can before it gets any colder, so the wounds can heal before winter comes. If you don't cut them back really hard, they'll go woody too quickly and you'll find yourself replacing them a lot quicker. We've clipped ours back into tight balls {and the smell is amazing!}

Other than that, we'll keep picking the dahlias until the first frosts. And likewise, the roses are coming back for another flush. The cosmos will keep going until the frosts and the grass I'll try and give one last cut before winter if it's dry enough sometime soon.

Soon, it will be bulb planting time again and then pretty much everything starts again. I'm mainly planting tulips again, the alliums we planted last year should all come back but I might plant a few in pots as an insurance. We'll dig up the dahlia tubers once there's been a couple of frosts and then store them over winter. Maybe we'll do one big cut back/tidy up but equally it doesn't hurt if you wait until the other side of Christmas. Slowly things will now start to die back and hibernate. The leaves will yellow and the days will get shorter.

Another year, a lot of blooms but mostly just enjoyment from this outdoor space and sanctuary we call our own. Sometimes watering can feel like a chore as well as having to cut the grass every week but really I relish the time spent in this space and love nurturing it year after year. 

Have I covered most things? What else did you want to know or what have I missed? I'm going to write posts very soon on hydrangeas, roses, the greenhouse/patio area and our allotment. Maybe growing pumpkins too? Just need a few more hours in the day! Promise they're coming soon. In the meantime, I hope this has been of some use?

R <3 xx 

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  1. I loved this post! A post dedicated to roses and hydrangeas would be great, I could look at pics of your garden all day!

    1. Thanks Jimjams, hydrangeas and roses coming asap! xx

  2. This post is so useful! We've had great success with dahlias this year after reading the dahlia blog that you wrote a while back. I'd really like to know how grow hydrangeas successfully (in the ground, rather than pots) as we have failed miserably with that. Thank you xx

    1. Also, do you have any tips on what bulbs are best to plant in outdoor window boxes xx

    2. Window box wise you can't go wrong with little daffodils, the tete a tete variety maybe? Or tulips. You could try a bulb lasagne! Great news about your dahlias. Hydrangea post coming asap x

  3. Great post...I planted Dahlias this year and they are beautiful! My lupins are doing so well too, blooming away again. Love your garden, it is really beautiful... Looking forward to the Hydrangea post. I had one in my garden that died. I planted two climbing hydrangea this year but they didnt bloom for me and I have one in a pot which didn't do well either this year... so a post on them would be great. They are my all time favourite flower. I'd like some Alliums, Delphiniums, Peonies and Agaphanthus in my garden next year :)

  4. Perfect timing post! I am currently thinking of adding a big chalkboard to our garage with a list of jobs to do in the garden month by month and what I'd like to plant from seed and bulbs for next year, due to a very disorganised year in the garden.... a busy 1 year old boy will do that to you!
    I'd love a roses and hydrangea post, also do u split your perennials? our new garden is now bursting after 2 years of growth and I feel it needs some organisation this spring!

    1. That's a great idea with the chalkboard. We've split perennials in the past but haven't done in this garden yet. Maybe by the end of next year they'll have all established more.

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  6. Hi,just wondering which slug pellets you use with a dog?my neighbours puppy died from eating them so I am too scared to use them with our dog around but we have a major slug problem and they have destroyed the lupins completely! Just wondered if there is a dog friendly variety available?

    1. Hi Kate, our dog has luckily never been interested in slug pellets but gosh that's so sad about your neighbours puppy. We use organic slug pellets at our allotment which are a bit more expensive, and they don't last on the soil for as long, but they're pet friendly and don't add any pesticides in. You can get them either online here or from garden centres x

  7. Hi Rebecca,

    Thank you for this motivating blog with so many beautiful pics. I really enjoyed reading it.

    Please can I ask if you drill holes for drainage in the bottom of your galvanised tubs and buckets?

    I have a beautiful but lonely looking hydrangea sitting outside still in its plastic pot that it came in. I’m just not sure what kind of conditions they like, are they ok in full sun or do they need shade?
    Thank you,

  8. Hello Rebecca do you mind me asking have you used hazel or willow hurdles as fence panels and how did you put them up - they look lovely. Thankyou

    1. Hi Stephanie, we used Hazel hurdles and there should be more info/photos in this post for you xx


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