Beauty that only time can create

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Despite only turning 22 this October, I strangely cannot help thinking that gardening makes you realise just what a short time you really have upon this earth.

If a gardener is lucky, he or she may have about 50 years of being able to garden. So many plants take time to mature and reach their prime; 2-3 years for many perennials, the best part of a decade for many shrubs, and several human lifetimes in the case of most trees. I want a mulberry tree one day – the slowest of growers! A garden of solid structure certainly takes a lifetime to grow, a type of beauty that only time can create. Anyone who follows the Sarah Raven rule of gardening knows that by using a combination of annuals, bulbs and tender perennials, the resulting garden can be impressive, of decent maturity and certainly have a very lush look.

My nan is 89 this year. Her garden, which consists of flowers, soft fruit, vegetables (namely her beloved leeks!) and fruit trees, is the largest in my family. It is an intensive creature. There are hedges on both sides (front and back) and lawns that divide the veg plots. It is a beautiful, mature creation that has been her life's work. It still is really.

While she now (reluctantly) has a weekly gardener, and as much help as I and my brother can offer, she still tries her best to get out into her garden. If the grass is long and for whatever reason we cannot come to cut it that day she will do it herself. She has not got the ignorance to allow it to grow longer than she wishes it to be, and my attempts at creating a wild flower meadow were met with an addiction to glysophate!

What I am trying to get at is that we don't really know how many springs or summers we will get to garden, so if you want to grow something grow it without hesitation. Go with the creativity your mind finds while flicking though a plant catalogue and create your vision, whatever it may be, however wacky or fabulously flamboyant. Who cares what others think, if it makes you feel good, do it!

The dahlias at home are still going strong – the morning glory has been brilliant this year and I love planting them to grow up sunflowers and in between dahlias so its blooms open among their leaves like a glowing violet star.

The Bishop dahlias remain firm favourites. 'Bishop of Auckland' with its claret wine petals and honey yellow middle I have been loving all summer. Alas I only grew the one tuber – next year it will be at least 3! I am finding these to not only be the best choice for visiting bees and butterflie,s but are also seemingly less affected by leaf miner and dahlia viruses.

That written, 'Happy Halloween' and a new but firm favourite this year 'Downham Royal' look beautiful, so (as I have mentioned in previous blog posts) pairing a few very choice doubles with single flowering types is a good compromise to really help out visiting pollinators.

Already I have visioned what our 2015 tulip display could be from this years gorgeous Sarah Raven Autumn catalogue. I am very taken with the Scented Tulip Collection and like the idea of our 3 main tubs leading to our door consisting of these. And in the centre of each, the glamourpuss of late spring, an Eremurus 'Cleopatra'. These beautiful yet notorious prima donnas of the plant world love sharp drainage. It will be the first time I have tried to grow them at home.

My current thought is to buy wide circular aquatic pond baskets. Into these I will set the octopus-like bulbs, mixing fresh potting compost with large amounts of grit and then sink them into the dolly tubs. Around their baskets the rest of the tub will be planted with tulips and a few alliums so we don't get a May time gap. It seems silly dreaming of spring 2015 when summer 2014 is still here, but it's essential for me to get planning so early!

Happy gardening and thanks for reading!