Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Look Back at the Year 2013

What a roller coaster of a year 2013 has been! Just looking back and reminiscing at the things that we got up to and the events that transpired in the past twelve months, some of which we didn't have any control of has reminded us how intense this year was.

Very intense, and what an insane year, whew!

What a difference twelve months can make. Looking back on our blog archives it's amazing how many things have happened in what is relatively a short period of time. Some of these activities we have almost forgotten about but were instantly reminded of the moment we read them all over again. And that's one of the many advantages of having a blog, it also serves as on online diary that we can refer to if we want to remember what we got up to gardening wise in a particular time of the year from the time we started blogging.

Ahh 2013, such an intense yea!. So many highs, a few unexpected lows, overall very intense. Intense, have I said this word enough? It is the perfect word that sums up how both us feel about this year.

We actually don't know whether to consider 2013 as a good year or a bad year for the both of us. One thing is for sure though, is that it was...well...intense! Too intense at times and that's not always a good thing.

So a good year or a bad year? We will pass judgement as soon as we have finished looking back and we'll deliver our verdict at the end of this post. Join us as we reminisce on the year 2013...


A snowy and mellow start to our year as we continued with the final stages of our big pond build and began its Final Countdown as we completed the decking next to the pond, as well as introduced you all to the Prequel Pond which gave us our first experience in building a raised pond. It is also the pond that jump started our koi keeping hobby and is the mother of our big pond build.

It's The Final Countdown.
The Prequel Pond


Before winter got hold of the best of us we managed to escape its grip, albeit just for a week as we sought refuge in the tropical climate of Singapore and basked in the glory of their gardens as well as checking out their newest attraction which is Gardens By The Bay. We featured the many parts of this colossal garden attraction all throughout February but the highlight for us is the Supertree Grove.

And just a week or so after we came back we attended the opening of the garden show season with the RHS London Plant and Design Show. Gorgeous plants that promise a gardening season lying ahead were seen, tasters of spring and offering attendees plant retail therapy which we gladly availed of!

Supertree Grove
Let the Show Season Begin!

After three days, almost three years the big pond build has finished! It took three days to fill the pond with over 8,000 imperial gallons of water and once that was done the pond build was officially finished. There were a few minor things that were left to do of course but as far as construction and set up is concerned it was all done. Then all we really had to wait for was the arrival of spring to finish everything and get into full swing with gardening. And the arrival of that spring was memorably delayed this year and winter seemed to have gone far too long than everyone here has expected!

A Blogger's Meet also transpired later that month and it was great to meet fellow UK bloggers for the first time as well as get a behind the scene's tour of Great Dixter and meet their esteemed head gardener Fergus Garrett.

After Three Days, Almost Three Years
Spring, Where Art Thou?
A Bloggers Meet at Great Dixter

The garden started to wake up in April and the promise of spring was well and truly evident. We gave a glimpse of our garden after the snow has melted in the post The Garden in April. We also looked back at the history of our garden as we converted From Lawn To Jungle many years ago, and even more history as we featured The Ghost of a Koi Pond that we inherited when we moved in to our house. This old koi pond was gradually filled up and turned into a patio and a planting border. A year or so later after filling this one up we got the koi keeping bug and ended up building a new one in another area. The rest is history.

April in The Garden
From Lawn to Jungle
The Ghost of a Koi Pond

May, beautiful May, and what made last May extra exciting was the Centenary Celebration of the Chelsea Flower Show. We gave the event extensive coverage from the Press Day all the way to the Plant Sell Off. Chelsea aside, our own garden was full activity that month and we gave a glimpse of the Garden in May.

Chelsea 2013
Chelsea 2013: Plant Sell Off
The May Garden

We started June with lots of colour, colourful pots that is as we re-arranged our bottom patio to the tune of Mas Que Nada! We also featured the Woburn Abbey Plant Fair from which we bought even more plants for the garden. A dedicated post about our Jungle Hut was also made, and who would know only a few weeks from then that hut will meet its demise....

Mas Que Nada!
Woburn Abbey Plant Fair
The Jungle Hut

It was a beautiful summer, a far cry from the wet summer that was 2012. Then one fateful July day we received a phone call, and we both rushed home as our garden had A Fiery Twist. But only a few days after a fire some life and recovery have started to show in some of the plants that were affected. The road to recovery from this fire has been ongoing over the months that followed.

A Fiery Twist
Life After Fire

Now this month is when it got really intense for us. Last May, after a fateful pub supper we spontaneously decided to go ahead with the house makeover this year instead of the original plan of doing it in 2015. Why wait when it can be done this year? So the builders got stuck in and started the extensive work in the house last July. I tell you now, living on a building site is never easy no matter how much mental preparation you put yourself in to. Add to that is the complication of having to deal with the garden fire, a most unwanted coincidence!

The intensity was most felt when we had Electrical Rationing which had affected our blogging frequency. But later that month some cheer went our way as someone showed us Kindness Through Ginkgos.

Electrical Rationing
Kindness Through Ginkgos

This month was still intense, the builders were still doing what they're supposed to do but the scheduling has gone out of the window. Nevermind, they were doing a good job and we still celebrated the Madness and Gladness of it All. And in the midst of the dust and chaos at home we plucked ourselves out of it for a week and took temporary refuge in fabulous New York City!

New York, New York, so good they named it twice!

The Madness and Gladness of it All
The New York High Line

Well building work continues but for this month the attention had shifted from the house into the garden as the old, fire damaged jungle hut was scheduled for demolition and rebuilding shortly after.

There was a Mad Dash to clear the pathway for the builders to dismantle the damaged hut and remove the debris, as well as bring new materials in for its rebuilding. And in this month we witnessed the resurrection of a new jungle hut.

The Mad Dash
The Return of the Jungle Hut (Part 1)

As things had started to mellow down on the renovation of our house, we found ourselves getting The Spark back again to get into plants and into gardening after being in home mode for months before this. 

Then we also realised that we haven't revealed the finished product of our big pond build so we gave some updates by featuring the fourth installment of our pond build series.

The Spark
The Big Pond Build (Part 4)

Never the Idle Dreamers - a lovely comment we received before and summed up how proud we are with the big pond we have build. This post was a monthly timeline of photos from start till finish of our pond build.

And as we had months of chaos with the house renovation we gave a first glimpse of what actually happened indoors by featuring one the finished products of the work done, our little conservatory.

Never The Idle Dreamers
Where Light Floods In
So 2013, was it a good year or a bad year? Overall I'd say it was a good year. Some inconveniences yes but still a good year. A bit too intense for comfort at times but glad to know that we've gone past that phase now. We're hoping that 2014 will be a bit more mellow, a good sort of mellow!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Fabulous New Year ahead! A big, optimistic toast for 2014!

Mark and Gaz :-)


  1. You really did have quite a year of drama...let's indeed hope for a mellower 2014 :-)

    1. We hope so indeed! Wishing you a fab 2014 Scott!

  2. After the year you've had, most anything that comes your way will seem mellow by comparison. I knew before reading it that you (ever the optimists) would consider 2013 a "good year". Here's wishing you an even better (and less intense) Happy New Year!

    1. Ever the optimists, we like that a lot :) Happy New Year Ricki!

  3. Good year, bad year, it doesn't matter as long as it's not a boring year. And it certainly wasn't for you, LOL! Happy 2014 to both of you.

    1. Spot on Gerhard, not boring at all. We certainly have lived in 2013! Happy New Year!

  4. What a year! I'm tired just reading about it! Here's to the best new year ever!

    1. Exhausting year for us Peter, need to mellow down this year :) Happy New Year!

  5. Happy New Year to you both, may 2014 bring you happy surprises in the garden and much comfort and happiness in your "new" home.

    1. Lovely words Loree! Wishing you, Andrew, and Lila a Happy New Year! And cross fingers will see you all later this year!

  6. Other than the fire, your year review has been wonderful with your renovation and your great trips that you take each year. 2014 should be fun to watch.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  7. Yes, hope you have a mellow year to come. This was way too much activity and unexpected change to cope with, I would have been pulling my hair out by the end. Happy New Year, Mark and Gaz!

    1. Hoping for a more mellow 2014 here Alison! Wishing you all the best for 2014!

  8. Intense is a good word for your year. It can have both positive and negative connotations - from invigorating and dynamic to turbulent, tempestuous, and frenzied. I hope you're enjoying all your new spaces and that 2014 brings you the peace and tranquility to fully appreciate them (as well as a jolt of happy excitement here and there). Happy new year!

    1. We could only echo what you have said about intensity Kris! Thank you and wishing you all the best for 2014 :)

  9. All the best to both of you (and your fur babies) for 2014. May you reap the rewards of all your hard work and have time to relax and enjoy it all.

    1. And to all of you too :) Best wishes for 2014!

  10. Nice blog! Your garden looks incredibly lush and exotic. It's definitely a pretty convincing jungle already. I love that aloe (is it Aloe polyphylla?). Gotta love spirally plants :)

    1. Hi Justin, nice to see you here! Many thanks and yes it is an Aloe polyphylla. Best wishes for 2014!

  11. You did have a very eventful year indeed! Can't wait to see what happens this year!


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