Garden Goals for 2018 January 2, 2018 19:01
Phew! It is here. 2018, with all it's lovely newness and glory, as arrived. The minute our last orders went out for Christmas, 'flu descended upon D&F towers and we've been barking / sniffling / sneezing ever since! But, now, already, Christmas is a distant memory. Itt is a new year. With it comes an irrepressible sense of optimism and hope for the year ahead.
For me, I. just. can't. wait... for the garden to slip into gear and start getting a move on. Things are already looking up. By the time we hit Friday this week, we'll have gained extra couple of minutes of daylight since the Winter Solstice. HURRAY for that little factoid!
Shoots from bulbs are already appearing in and around the garden. I've spotted a frog or two rolling over, opening their eyes for a millisecond, deciding whether it is time to put in an appearance (keep your heads down, boys, that is what I say). But, the inevitable is happening. We are on a slow march to Spring, and I for one am delighted about that.
When we were little, our parents would be all over the seed catalogues and the garden magazines, willing on Spring. As a child, I didn't get it. As an adult, I'm smitten. I can't wait to get going in the garden. This time of year is hard. You want to get on with things, but you have to hold back a little. There are plenty of cold, dark days a head. Our sleeping shrubs and trees just want a little TLC, at this time of year. As does the wildlife. There is a defiant sign up - 'DO NOT DISTURB!' and I feel it is my job to creep around, letting nature build up her resources, ready for next year.
But, I can't help but dream. And this year, I've got a list brewing. No resolutions - just goals. Things I'd love to see flourish in my garden. Here are our top five:
- More Wildlife!: Anyone (er, anyone?!) that reads this blog regularly will know that I LOVE a wildlife friendly garden. In fact, for me, a garden is not a real garden without a serious amount of humming, fluttering and zooming about in the background. By Summer last year, I'd somehow managed to get 'planning permission' to create teardrops in our lawn. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. My teardrops are five in total. They have been allowed to go 'wild', and I've been artistically mowing around them ever since. I'll be honest, so far it's a miss mash of dandelions, buttercups and tall grass. However, I've got a feeling that this year they will come into their own. The tall(ish) grass has provided a perfect safe haven for lots of insects to hibernate. So what if I just have big old buttercups next year?! At least I'll have a good understanding of what lies beneath in terms of my native wildflower seed bank. Then I can add to it - introducing wild flowers and seeds. These tear drops have provided so much more interest than I could have ever imagined. Plus, my little boys love whizzing around on their bikes on the 'race track' in between the teardrop shaped beds. So everyone is happy! Who needs a football pitch for a lawn?! Not me. I can't wait to see how this experiment works out in terms of increased wildlife activity. Watch this space...
- More Fruit! We haven't got a huge garden, but we have got a west facing fence that holds onto a lot of the heat of the day. We also have two darling boys that are complete fruit bats! So, my plan is to grow more fruit next year, working up cordons and espaliers along our fence. I've started digging the ground in front of the fence to create a small strip, no more than a foot, to add more fruit and also plenty of companion plants. Eventually I'd love to 'top' the fruit with some pleached trees - having native hornbeam growing overhead, the fruit in the 'middle' section along the fence and then lots of lovely herbs and companion plants to keep all the unwanted bugs and beasties at bay. I feel the three would work brilliantly along our ugly old fence - creating a system that is self supporting - plants, trees and fruits that are mutually cooperative - protecting and sustaining each other. Not to mention making it easy for pollinators to hop from one delicious source of nectar to another.
- More Hot Stuff! You have to grow what you use most. Otherwise, what is the point? And for us, that is chillies, peppers and lots of flavoursome foods. Unfortunately, many of these do not suit our cold, Kentish winters. However, my clever Dad has been building a gorgeous, teeny, tiny glasshouse for us from remnants of an old school loo (yes, that's right) and it's shaping up a treat! I can't wait to show it off to you, but basically, it's a big glass box. It is positioned in the warmest part of our garden and I reckon it is going to become the perfect little hothouse in which to grow chillies and lots of flavoursome, tender crops.
- More indoor gardening "There are more plants than people in this house!" Honestly, my husband says this like it is a bad thing. But I love my houseplants. They give me hope for warmer, brighter days. They literally add life and soul to a room. One or two of them, such as my calamondin orange, are just bonkers - producing fruit and gorgeously scented flowers at the same time. They make the perfect houseguests and I just want to fill my home with them. So, now I've managed to get the knack of looking after my houseplants, I'm adding to the collection.
- More of what I love: Without doubt, my garden is my sanctuary. It is a complete escape from the rest of the world. It looks after me as much as I look after it. It is a place where it is completely appropriate for me to have 'favourites'. Favourite places to sit, favourite plants, favourite little views. Lots of little spots that are just spoilt rotten with flowers and foliage that I croon over. So, we're going to have more of the same - I'm going to squeeze in a few more Geum - because I love them and they just keep on going from Spring through to Summer. I love the sight and sound of bees about the place, so I'm going to encourage as many as I can with extra homes for them that I can. A neighbouring village has a beekeepers club and I'm going to find out all I need to know about my current furry friends as well as encouraging a greater diversity and volume of bees into the garden. And I am smitten by the mixing up fruit, veg and flowers - there is something really wonderful about seeing this concoction growing together, supporting each other. So more companion planting for me.
What are your garden goals for 2018? We'd love to know, please share!