We are back in the real world – Christmas is put to bed for another year, the longest day has passed and mild weather has encouraged very early growth of spring bulbs. A new garden year has already begun and, as ever at this time of year, I am thinking about a new start and better gardening.
My list of improvements quickly got out of hand, so I have trimmed it down to 5 manageable goals. How about you? If you are struggling with good intentions here are my top tips:
This feels like it should come at the end of more worthy changes but I have bravely put it right at the top.
Relaxing does not mean adjusting the ties on the roses, or dead-heading or checking the underside of pots for snails – gentle though all these things are. It means doing nothing much at all except staring at the sky, following bird song or reading or simply chatting with a cup of tea in hand. How hard can that be to stick to?
2 Do a little but more often
Don’t let things get out of control – if you spend a few moments weeding on a regular basis it is very easy to keep the garden looking cared for. The alternative is a huge task which is over facing and gets worse on a daily basis in the growing season.
3 Be vigilant against pests and act
I turn a blind eye to pests a lot of the time – imagining that somehow they will move away of their own free will or will. They won’t! Look out for them before they do too much damage: aphids, slugs and snails are the usual suspects but there are a whole world of specialist insects which attack specific plants – you will know when they are in full attack. The thing to do is actually look closely at your plants in the way a mother will inspect her baby, admiring the wonder of nature but also looking out for any problems. My number one enemy in the coming year will be the box moth caterpillar grrrr.
4 Plan ahead and avoid impulse buys
We all do it – go to the garden centre or a flower show and bring home something showy but totally inappropriate. I pulled up some huge Kniphofia which I impulse bought from Great Dixter – not only were they far too big for my space, their pale spikes, while being temptingly unusual, did not hit the spot that a red hot poker should! Plan thoughtfully in these winter months and stick to what you decide (mainly).
5 Grow something from seed
I can understand if a) you already do this and are astonished that it is on my list or, b) you really can’t see yourself faffing with such things BUT I know it will be good for my soul to nurture something from its very start. It can be something really simple like candytuft, nasturtium or a sunflower but I feel the need to get back to basics even in the smallest of ways.
Whatever way you choose to garden (even if it is in white gloves) – may I wish you a very happy gardening year.