Thursday 23 November 2017

New year planning for the garden

By Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida'
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida'

deadhead any remaining old hydrangea flowers

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' yellow witch hazel

As we crawl out from under the wrapping paper and tinsel and emerge into the New Year armed with the best intentions in the world, promised to ourselves for 2017. I want you to add to any resolutions you might have made. Make this year the year of the garden project and get that job done. Whether large or small, your garden or the project, start by giving some serious thought and planning to what you want to achieve and how and when is best to go about it. Planning by planning to get it right will save you a lot of time, money and disappointment.

Most keen gardeners will have a list of jobs and projects that, by the very nature of gardening, are constantly arising and often morphing throughout the year. This is what gardening is on a day to day basis and what we enjoy so much about it. There is always something to do and never a dull moment. To have a project outside of this can give drive to your gardening year and as a result be so rewarding. The number of times I have been asked by people in my garden 'if I have finished it'. The very nature of the question immediately tells you that that person is not a gardener as we, as gardeners, have never 'finished it'.

These gardening pledges don't have to involve diggers, dumpers and tons of concrete, although of course they can. A few years ago I made a particular effort to bring my lawn areas up to a higher standard and another year I took it upon myself to produce as much from the kitchen garden as possible. This year, oddly enough, I am sowing that same vegetable garden in annual wildflower seeds to give it and me a change and a rest. All are jobs that were outside of my usual annual gardening activities and therefore I would class them new projects.

My main special project for this year, as I again won't get round to the Victorian style greenhouse that has been a constant for the last 15 years, is to do some hardnosed plant culling in the garden. I'm not one for wasting anything and this has always applied to plants as well and subsequently over the years I have ended up planting wastrel plants left over from various places rather than throwing them away. I have vowed this year that with the extension of my planting borders comes the rule that every plant in the garden must be loved and wanted and not just a space filler. I will give away what I can but will be heartless with the rest. A new year and a new dawn.

As far as your own projects might go start with a pen and paper first, the pen is mightier than the spade at this point. List your projects, goals, wishlist and time frame. A realistic pre-planned work schedule can be very useful for keeping everything to track. If the project involves new additions to the garden in the form of features like patios, paths, structures and new planting areas it is always useful to plan out to a scale on graphpaper your ideas then mark them out in real space in the garden. This will give you a definitive view of how the feature might look when completed. A scale of 1:50 is a good ratio to use, this equates to one centimetre on paper equals fifty centimetres on the ground.

With new planting mark out beds with a spray paint or even a hose pipe to give a feel for the shape and form you want to create. List the plants you know you want to grow and research with visits to garden centres for new plants that you maybe unaware of. Even if you intend to get in a garden designer or landscaper to work on the project this time spent personally pre-planning is invaluable for any contractor to work with, advise and adapt for you. A project in its own right can be to produce a scale plan of your existing garden including features and listing plants.

In my view these gardening projects can interlace, supplement and support the more traditional New Years resolutions that are made by making you happier, healthier, increasing your excerise, help to burn off the calories and generally improve your wellbeing. Not bad for a little bit of gardening work.

Wexford People

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