Always at this time of year I’m reminded of an old club track from the late 80’s by Royal House, entitled “Can you Party (Can you feel it)” I’m referring to the unscratched itch in one’s green fingers that are desperately missing the soil; more specifically my garden! For me, once the Christmas tree has been dragged out of the house and the New Year’s celebrations have all been forgotten, my thoughts turn back to the coming gardening season ahead. This begins with the letter P. P for planning!
I’m sure we are all familiar with the feeling that once spring comes and the garden bursts forth into growth, we can either feel a sense of dread in it leaving us quickly behind, or we can be properly prepared for it and take it in our stride. The latter is my preference, and by careful planning throughout the winter months I find that I can keep pace with all that has to be done during the busy season of spring.
Be realistic – about my garden compromises
The demanding pace of life that we currently live takes up a lot of our time, what with families to bring up, the demands of our work and our free time activities. Therefore, my advice is to be realistic in what can be achieved in the garden over the following year, taking our lifestyle into account.
My garden comprises of a productive kitchen garden, a grass lawn play area for my son and his friends, as well as multiple flower borders. A lot of my time goes into all of these areas and I have to choose carefully any new projects that I wish to undertake. I have drastically cut down on the work needed in the kitchen garden as it is strictly ‘no-dig’ which frees up my time for other new projects, yet I still have to water plants in dry spells, cut the grass and keep on top of any weeds.
Planera på vintern och börja beställa frön i januari
Not only is no-dig the best ecological and most sustainable way I have found of growing vegetables, but through careful planning I know what I have to do month to month, week to week so that everything is undertaken and looked after in terms of timing. This begins in January, scouring through seed catalogues and ordering all those that I wish to grow over the coming year. Most of the small vegetable plug plants I raise from seed have to be pre-sown indoors between March and April and I have all my multi-use, plastic cell trays ready and sterilised, as well as plenty of bags of seed sowing soil and lots of LED lights to grow them under.
So too with indoor plants as those outside, they too start to wake up in spring having taken their winter rest. If they have started to outgrow their pot, they need to be re-potted and spring is the ideal time to do this when they burst forth into growth. This requires a new pot, new indoor plant soil and maybe some drainage sora in the bottom of the pot. Buying these materials in the very beginning of spring ensures that this job can be done at the correct time and your plants will certainly reward you for it.
The importance of taking notes
As a horticulturist, I had it drummed into me through my years of education the importance of keeping good gardening notes, observations and a kind of month by month diary. The notes are refined from year to year as one year is never the same as the last, but they serve as an invaluable guide and reference to, for example, the correct timing for sowing different kinds of vegetable seeds. Notes are something that can be instantly referred to if in doubt about something, which does save time if we only have an hour or two to be out in the garden on an evening. Electronic note apps are instantly on hand to help from our phone.
As a garden designer, I can’t stress enough the importance of creating a plan for any new developments to be made in the garden. A well-drawn plan (hand drawn or computerised) allows you to work out material volumes and makes a trip to the garden centre so much easier, rather than just being confronted with so much plant choice. Put simply, you know what plants you need and how many of each one is required.
A tip with planting design is to always plant the same plant in groups of odd numbers; 3’s, 5’s, 7s, for example. The eye looks more favourably on odd numbers than even ones, and it also likes the movement that is created in the garden when groups of the same plant are repeated here and there. A focal point such as a specimen tree, shrub or statue should be placed in the planting composition, so the eye has a place to rest before moving on to the next part.
Planting design is a skill that takes many years to master, yet cold and dark winter evenings are the ideal time to learn from good garden design magazines, the unlimited access to online images and knowledge written about gardens. It is so okay to simply copy something that you see, as you know it works, but it’s up to you to make a good list of the plants and the numbers you need for your planting design.
At Kukkatori, we offer a garden design service to help with your garden projects and are more than happy to order larger numbers of plants for our customers if we don’t have them in stock.
In my words of closing, do be ecological and sustainable in your purchases, especially when it comes to plastics. Cheap, one-use throw away plastic products are only compounding to the problems our planet is facing at the moment. There are so many good eco-product alternatives on the market these days, and savings are made when they can be used for many years. Good businesses are taking a close look at their whole supply chain processes and incorporating sustainable practices into their products and their carbon footprint, and these businesses are those that I personally choose to support.