Anna Pavord: I've had more joy from the garden this year than I can ever before remember

The California poppies have beautifully self-seeded, the lily beetles have magically vanished... our horticultural expert cannot believe her luck in the garden this year

There's a little orange icon at the bottom of my computer screen and when the mouse happens to skate over it on its way to somewhere else, a blue message pops up. "Everything is good," it says. It's curiously comforting. Even I don't suppose the anti-virus-software icon's power stretches beyond the innards of the tower under my desk.

But, walking down the bank one evening, with the sky bleeding pink clouds from the sunset, the Avast message came into my head. The garden looked almost OK. I had a glass of prosecco in my hand, which must have helped to bring about this rosy view, and I'll probably never get the feeling again, but, boy, what a growing season it has been.

I have had more joy from the garden this year than I can ever before remember. That's partly because, after eight years, all the stuff we planted is now well settled. The leaves on the Magnolia tripetala are 50cm/20in long, geranium 'Brookside' has scrambled high up into the 'Buff Beauty' roses so the two of them flowered together, five feet off the ground. The crambe produced a flower spike at least five feet high and wide, a huge pyramid of tiny white flowers through which I could look to the tall spuria iris beyond. All the foxgloves have grown taller than me and the self-seeded love-in-a-mist this year came up in a heavenly mixture of blues, some almost navy.

Some sky-blue ones have seeded themselves in among a stand of spurge (this one is Euphorbia schillingii), and those two colours, the searing yellow-green of the spurge and the blue of the love-in-a-mist are well-matched. I could never have found room to plant nigella where it put itself. Self-seeding has brought about some of the best happenings in the garden this season: orange California poppies with a different spurge (Euphorbia oblongata) which also self-seeds, a double opium poppy in an outrageous shade of deep red which has put itself in front of the handsome shiny leaves of a stand of monkshood. That won't flower until later in the summer, but the opium poppies provide surprising slashes of colour like this, a kind of entr'acte between things that have finished or things that are yet to perform.

Moving round the circular path on the bank is more like swimming than anything else. I do a kind of breaststroke, arms stretched out in front, then sweeping round to the sides to part the branches of magnolia, Rubus tridel and the lush foliage of the hydrangeas that are now almost eight feet tall. Soon, this wild exuberance will tip out of control into chaos. But at the moment, I'm exulting in it. The plants evidently loved the wet spring. Some ferns are five feet high.

One of Anna's Hydrangea villosa plants in full bloom One of Anna's Hydrangea villosa plants in full bloom (George Wright)
And, for reasons I don't understand, I haven't seen a lily beetle for at least a month. I caught the first one (being pillar-box red, you can't miss them) on 14 April and trapped perhaps 10 after that. Since then – zilch. Why? There are masses of lilies in the garden (I first began to grow them in quantity when I was writing my Bulb book) and in previous summers there have also been masses of lily beetles. I've sometimes noticed a fly, about the size and build of a house fly, resting on the lilies, a fly that I've not seen before. I scarcely dare hope that it's a predator, but if it's not, what else has kept the lily beetle off our flowers?

In late June, the most beautiful were the new kinds of martagon lily that, if you went to Chelsea, you might have seen on the stand of HW Hyde, who is building up a big collection of these early beauties. Their leaves are carried in whorls up the stem and the flowers come out in turn from a big spike at the top. They hang down but flip up their petals, Turk's cap fashion, to expose the ginger anthers arching out below. We had a deep maroon one, with 42 flowers on its spike, the dark petals with a pale reverse, pushing up through the lower branches of a young Yulan (Magnolia denudata). At that time, it was the best combo in the garden.

Even Rhododendron edgeworthii has flowered this season. "About time too," I said to it, when I saw the buds opening, palest pink. It's nine years since I bought it and these are the first flowers it has produced. The fault is probably mine. I kept it in a pot, as Kenneth Cox of the Glendoick nursery had warned that it was not fully hardy. For the first few years it overwintered in the greenhouse. Then I forgot about it, but it came through the cold weather unscathed. I thought that if it had already survived several sessions below zero, I might as well plant it out. I did that last year. And this is the result. It is gorgeously scented. And it comes from the Himalayas. What more could I ask of it? Nothing.

Even the veg are behaving themselves. Or rather, being allowed to behave by the hordes of creatures that bob out from the undergrowth. We've eaten mountains of courgettes ('Defender' grown from seed sown on 10 April) and have had several feasts of peas ('Hurst Green Shaft' grown from seed sown on 30 March). The beautiful tall hazel and willow wigwams we used to use for peas finally fell to bits, so we're growing the peas on big circles of pig netting. As the plants grew fast and tall, we had to stack another wire circle on top of the first. Together they make cylinders 3m/7ft tall, ideal for the sweet peas as well as the peas.

There have been times, like when I'm crawling around under the huge shrub roses, digging up bindweed, with rose thorns catching in my hair and ripping out bits of my skin, when I wonder why I ever got caught up in gardening. But then comes a moment, like that moment on the bank, when your soul lifts, and your garden quietly encloses you in an envelope of pure pleasure.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas