Ideas for 2016

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The plant-holding area at the Collectors Plant Fair full of purchases, including my own!

I am wary about publicly declaring New Year's resolutions, for fear that I can be so easily caught breaking them - such as my infamous 'no more plants' vow of 2011, which was seen to be a hollow promise by those who saw me staggering along with many bagged purchases to the plant-holding area at the Collectors Plant Fair that year! So I am being content to float a few 'ideas' for myself for 2016, to be general guiding principles for the next 12 months!

One idea is to try to do something in the garden every day. It isn't always possible, but rather than seven hours gardening on one day (which is now beyond me), an hour each day can achieve the same result spread through the week, if one is disciplined about what is going to be done within that hour. Due to an injury, I have been following this regimen for a while now, and have found it really focuses the mind if there are only 60 precious minutes to spend in the garden, rather than a nebulous, unending stretch of time. Previously, I could spend an hour pondering where to place a single plant! Also, being outside every day makes one more aware of what is going on in the garden: caterpillars can be squashed, deadheads can be quickly removed, weeds pulled up before they get huge, and ailing plants can be identified early on and dealt with. This was the way my mother gardened, and in my mind, I can see her still, making the daily rounds of her garden. We also get the wonderful benefits of simply being in our gardens, in touch with nature and surrounded by beautiful flowers, away from the stresses of everyday life .

This Hydrangea is in the wrong place as its flowers and foliage have burned because of too much hot sun

Another idea I hope to follow this year is to be ruthless with plants that are not doing well in my garden. I do tend to hang onto certain plants in the hope that they may one day 'come good'; but generally, this doesn't happen. There can be sentimental attachment to plants, which makes it hard to let go; I hope I can be more brutal this year with ones that simply aren't thriving and get rid of them. A vacant spot means a new plant CAN be obtained! Sometimes a plant is just in the wrong spot rather than being totally unsuited to your garden or to your climate - the start of a new year is a good time to go around the garden and study how plants are going and what should be moved. Make a list now and you will be ahead when the cooler months roll around, during which transplanting will be more successful.

A Moreton Bay fig in the garden created by Wendy Whiteley

A further idea I wish to pursue this year is to share the garden more with others. I felt a pang when I read in Wendy Whiteley's book on her garden that just as a painting isn't finished until it is viewed, a garden isn't finished until it is shared. So I do hope to invite my gardening friends around more often to see what is going on in my garden. It is delightful to walk around one's garden with a fellow enthusiast: they can give you positive feedback about your efforts and often can make very useful suggestions for how you could enhance your plantings, or mention a plant you have never heard of before that could be perfect for a spot in your garden! It is also such a rewarding aspect of gardening to share cuttings from your garden with others. To think that a snapped-off twig can grow into a whole new plant never ceases to thrill and amaze me!

Cherry tomatoes from the garden, grown without chemicals

This is the year I'd also like to avoid using any chemicals in my garden. It is terrifying to think what damage we are wreaking on the environment (and bees in particular) by our indiscriminate use of nasty sprays. I will be exploring physical methods of control of pests and the use of certified organic sprays. I find it a good challenge to think up ways to outwit pests! I want to grow more edible plants this year, and one of the best aspects of eating produce from your own garden is to know it hasn't been sprayed with something toxic.

Taking every opportunity that comes my way to see a new garden, visit an unfamiliar nursery or see a different landscape is also on my agenda for this year. Every fresh experience and chance encounter we have enriches us for the better and in ways that we can never imagine beforehand! Let's hope that 2016 is a great year for all gardeners. Happy New Year.