The 5 most important things I have learned in my garden this year

My personal garden résumé for 2023

The gardening year is far from over and yet now is a good time to take stock. Some time ago I made it a habit to recapitulate and write down my four or five most important findings every year. Since I have been gardening in a new and completely different garden for two years now (we moved from Potsdam to Hamburg), this is even the more important. I am happy to share my very personal experiences with you this year. Maybe it will inspire you to think about your garden situation in a similar way!

Cool shades fit much better than warm ones in my new garden.

For me, this is hard to accept, as I am a big fan of warm apricot and peach tones. Nevertheless, I had to realise that sky blue, cool pink and soft purple contrast beautifully with the dark red brick facade of our house and the garden wall. They really make these colours shine!

Warm apricot tones really clash with the house colour. Luckily I am completely flexible with flower bulbs, dahlias and summer annuals and can create new planting patterns every year!

…in the wild late spring bed!

Right Place, Right Plant

The right place for a plant is essential, that is one of the most important rules in gardening. And yet I don’t always follow it myself. I completely underestimated how difficult the soil really is underneath my huge old copper beeches. In the meantime, I have lost a considerable number of beautiful semi-shade perennials because of it: once planted, they weakened or never came back. This is not the fault of the perennials but of my stubbornness in planting masterworts (which need a lot of water) there, for example. The trees were stronger! Their root system, their water requirements only allow them to coexist with very robust plants.

What really worked: Aster ‘Asran’! Its leaves are dark green and it flowers profusely under the canopy of the beeches. Likewise, male fern, polygonatum and the autumn anemone ‘Robustissima’ make a passable impression. This autumn I will fill the gaps in the bed with exactly these perennials. This is not about any colour concepts: Here I need real survivors!

…for dry locations under trees!

Only  plant low varieties in containers

This year I experimented with lots of tubs and planters for the first time, as my garden is small and I need all the space I can get. The plants that grow from bulbs were quite wonderful! The dahlias are equally comfortable in large tubs. With the annual summer flowers, I have to say: Only the really low varieties make sense here. Anything that grows over 60 cm has to be supported extensively and that doesn’t look very elegant in a tub.

Calendula (marigold), our new zinnia ‘Zahara Double Rasberry Ripple’ (all zinnias in general, because they have such firm stems) or the nasturtium ‘Ladybird Rose’ are wonderful. I found scabiosa, taller cosmos, as well as annual delphinium difficult. Their delicate stems are actually better off in a flower bed with other plants that support and hold each other.

Flower bulbs are perfect for tubs …

Reseed the lawn regularly

This year, I was successful with the lawn. This is not only due to the many rainy days in summer, but also to my consistent reseeding. I used to reseed the lawn 1-2 times a year at the most, but this year I walked through my garden almost every fortnight with a handful of lawn seed and dropped a few grains here and there. It’s really no work at all, takes only a few seconds and the result is a completely weed-free, dense lush lawn.

Lush lawn through reseeding
The freshly laid laid turf 2 years ago

More shrubs even in a small garden

As I find our large beeches beautiful, but also overpowering, I have hardly planted any other woody plants so far, but we will definitely change that this autumn! Although the garden is small and my husband always says that more shrubs would make the garden look even smaller, I am convinced of the opposite. A full garden looks bigger than it actually is and small or medium sized shrubs are fantastic to define garden spaces and can provide a good link between the lower perennials, dahlias, summer flowers and the very tall trees.

We will add English dogwood, beauty bushes, the crabapple Evereste and some beautiful hydrangeas to our garden this year. I am so excited about the result and will show it to you soon!

Hydrangea Bella Anna
Crabapple “Evereste”

How would you sum up your garden this year? What have you learned? What have you learned? I’m curious to hear about your experiences and would be happy if you share them with me! Just write an email to

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