Forum home The potting shed

Early mistakes and successes

I remember enjoying the abundance of flowers in our garden as a kid but took little notice of the work and skill my parents put into it. When I was six or seven my mum cleared me a little patch and gave me a packet of mixed flower seeds to sow. I remember being delighted with the results but a bit disappointed they weren't quite as good as the picture on the packet (1st lesson in real gardening) Lupins continued to grow in that patch for years afterwards and forget-me-nots from my patch were allowed to seed around the garden into any little space and in spring it was a joyful froth of blue.

I didn't really start gardening properly until about eight years ago.

My best mistakes (so far) are

Planted a large and expensive Ceanothus with a whole load of half rotted compost and watched it burn to death.

Bought one of those '100 Perennials for £30' deals which were so small they all fitted in a shoe box. I planted them all out immediately it was cold and frosty the ground was completely compacted I dug the smallest hole my miniscule plants could be forced into -  all this in heavy shade.....Guess how many of these plants thrived?

Grew some delphiniums from seed potted them on into big pots, restricted their flowering the first year.....sounds like a success so far right? Then I planted them in a bed 1ft x 4ft........all 7 of them!                                                                      

After all these disasters it's a wonder I'm still nuts about gardening but I am....more so with every season....


What were your early successes and failures? Do tell...



  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,902

    I'm not sure if it counts as a success or a failure, but I once seeded a new lawn on a sloping plot just before a thunderstorm.

    100% germination - success

    All at the bottom of the hill.....image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Pansy image 

  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    I made some beautiful raised beds for veg. It was too late for seed sowing so I bought in cabbage plants and planted them in rows, just like proper gardeners. I didn't know about pigeons and brassicas so when I went back out to admire my handiwork it was a bit of a surprise - nothing but stalks left. In truth, I gave up veg entirely in the end, I couldn't take the stress.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,710

    Pansyface, we did exactly the same thing with the same result when we moved to this house! 1992 we were laying out the garden.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,710

    Good thread Flowerlover, I like hearing about people's gardening experiences.

    In 2012 I started a thread about how people started gardening. Here it is, if you are interested. 

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Thanks Busy-Lizzie, I think before I started gardening I thought it would be easy but there is so much to learn. When things work out there is nothing more rewarding but it's amazing we don't get disheartened with these early catastrophes. This forum is so useful, I could have done with being on here when I started out. Don't forget to post your gardening successes,joys and happy accidents image

  • My mum loved flowers, my dad loved photograpy, I was a compulsive reader. My mum had a garden and I had my little patch, which I helped look after, and I picked and ate the raspberries and blackcurrants. At first we used to go out into the country (we lived in what is now Sarf Lunnon) with my parents on the tandem and me in the sidecar. Mum showed me the wild flowers and dad took pictures and I learned the 'Observer Book of Wild Flowers' off by heart. We went to Kew for days out. After my brother came along the tandem wasn't really an option, so we got a car. It was a 1936 Morris 10 called Blossom and was practically an antique even then. But with Blossom we could go further afield (slowly, top speed 40mph with a following wind!) and visit other  places and gardens and bluebell time became a marker on the family calendar, as did blackberry time when later we moved to Sussex.

    What all this meant is that by the time I got my hands on an actual garden of my own to do with as I pleased, I had already learned a lot without really knowing it and probably that is why I have never had a major disaster, though of course not unalloyed success either. My first venture was to grow some sweetpeas, not tall ones, but Jet Set, about 3ft high and as we were blessed with a good summer that first year they were a great success. But we weren't in that house long, as a new job meant a move and a new garden, a typical new -build plot of compacted builder's clay with poor drainage and no plants at all, apart from my maple tree in a tub we brought with us. For economy I began growing things from seed and soon became an addict and loved experimenting with new things. My failures have often been of my own making from trying to do too many things at once and I can't say that I am much better nowimage But even though I didn't manage to grow them all well enough to reach maturity my seed sowing has given me the confidence to keep trying. So I have grown cannas, grevilleas,  strelitzias, begonias and streptocarpus from seed. I eventually threw out the birds of paradise after 15 years of waiting for a flower. I currently have a Clivia that is undergoing cold treatment in the porch as this is supposed to induce flowering. If it doesn't it may go the same way, though it takes up less space than they did. I am still learning,  planning, changing my mind and initiating another project and finding more things I want to grow and I wouldn't want it any other way!

  • I can just sit and watch plants grow. Nothing makes me happier, well apart from my partner, of course (in case, he reads this...). That is why I started gardening 14 years ago and am learning every day, making stupid mistakes weekly, doing dumb stuff monthly, am overwhelmed by failures yearly. But it is like a drug... I love it and I can't walk away from it. So I persevere.

  • I find it strangely reassuring when I hear experienced, even professional gardeners still make mistakes. Your right Gardenviking it's totally addictive and that sinking heart feeling when it all goes wrong is totally eclipsed by the joy of seeing a seed sprout or a favourite plant burst into flower not to mention the wildlife, I could go on and on...

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,710

    I don't think I always know when I've got the planting wrong. People talk about what looks good with what but I tend to bung plants in where there's a space and the growing conditions are OK.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
Sign In or Register to comment.