Naomi plans her year ahead

It’s a time to re­flect and see the op­por­tu­ni­ties that lie ahead

Garden News (UK) - - Contents -

While the weather is cool and the plants are grow­ing slowly, early Jan­uary is per­fect for re­flect­ing on the gar­den. And hav­ing spent much of last year chas­ing it and re­act­ing to its foibles, this now seems very nec­es­sary.

A year into the project I’m quite pleased on the one hand – there’s a far greater va­ri­ety of plants and wildlife than there was to start with. Re­cently, I have even (whis­per it) seen some birds.

On the other hand, the ob­vi­ous prob­lems that needed im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion, such as the now-de­parted fake grass and lack of plant­ing ar­eas, dis­tracted my other is­sues. For ex­am­ple, the two raised beds that are filled with com­pletely spent com­post: dry, clumpy and de­void of nu­tri­ents. The plants that I put into the smaller one shrank rather than grew and had to be res­cued be­fore it was too late.

There have been other chal­lenges too. Rose sawfly has been a mas­sive prob­lem and vine wee­vil has raised its ugly snout. Still, I’m rea­son­ably con­fi­dent that a de­cent bal­ance of gar­den preda­tors will level the play­ing field in time.

But there’s still loads to do. Paths need to be in­stated so that I can be sure where to plant things on a per­ma­nent ba­sis. The soil needs work across the board. And there’s plenty of scope to be cre­ative with plant­ing, for a proper sense of struc­ture and depth.

Look­ing back, there have been some real per­form­ers. Plants that have stood ev­ery­thing that the year threw at them. Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis, sweet peas, ferns, Gera­nium phaeum and fox­gloves should all take a bow. Other plants are still await­ing their time to shine and, hav­ing cut back the an­nu­als and dug up the dahlias, I popped the pot­ted peren­ni­als into the new cen­tral bed – they’ll do bet­ter in the ground and it’s not re­ally a prob­lem if they stay there for a sea­son.

The first cou­ple of weeks of Jan­uary is the lean­est, most mea­gre part of the year. Ev­ery­thing has died back and very lit­tle is get­ting go­ing. Yet, if you look hard enough you can see where the plants are go­ing to be and, just as im­por­tantly, where you can im­prove and make ad­di­tions. It may seem bare and bony, but re­ally it’s a party wait­ing to hap­pen!

I’ve been bulk­ing up bor­ders to bring in more colour for 2019

Gera­nium phaeum was one of my sum­mer stars

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