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.

Reader Comments

  • By john 2261 Monday, 11 January 2016

    Truer words have never been said about a garden, I agree that where there is an empty space, there is space for "just one more plant"!! And that a struggling plant needs replacing, chemicals also , should be left in the packet on the shelf in the shop, they definitely don"t belong in a garden. Happy gardening in 2016 Diedre ! ! Thanks, John. Hope you have a great year ahead. Deirdre

  • By Anne 2518 Monday, 11 January 2016

    definitely agree about being brutal about plants which either don"t perform or just take up too much room in my garden. Have my eye on two very large salvias - these days prefer the Greggii type isn"t it sad that we can no longer do the 7 hour stretches? I particularly wish I could having only acquired my own garden of recent years and finding I just can"t do the hours I could in Mum"s garden - sigh!! Happy New Year and I look forward to reading about what you get up to Deirdre! I agree about the larger salvias; I like the smaller ones more and more! It is sad not to be able to spend all day in the garden these days but I enjoy my shorter stints and make the most of them. Deirdre

  • By Helen 2159 Monday, 11 January 2016

    Happy New Year Deirdre and good luck in your garden for another year. I look forward to reading your blog each Monday and am delighted it has started again already. It feels like a refreshing new year has begun. Thanks you, Helen. I love the start of the year with so much promise and the unknown of what we will do and discover during the next 12 months! Deirdre

  • By Kerrie 2776 Monday, 11 January 2016

    Happy 2016 Deirdre and thankyou for your many helpful hints over the years. I know exactly what you mean, living in the Blue Mts and having a battle axe block my poor hubby toiled for many summers trying to mow our steep driveway, one school Holiday my Kids decided to plant some free Agapanthus all the way down and each Christmas I smile at the Agaies wonderful display no matter Drought Flooding Rain or Bushfires - but dead head as soon as flowers finish thanks to your prompting. Thanks Deirdre Your agapanthus display must be marvellous. They are so tough and have been very good this summer. Deirdre

  • By Chris 2082 Monday, 11 January 2016

    I"ve been to Wendy Whiteley"s garden twice. I am excited to see your garden.... Glad you have seen Wendy Whiteley"s garden. Mine has a long way to go! Deirdre

  • By noeline 2081 Tuesday, 12 January 2016

    I spent hours in the garden yesterday and came in hot and exhausted to read your very sensible 1 hour tip.Sometimes the lawn and edges cannot be ignored any longer but I will attempt to split it into days instead of the BIG fix (I suspect hubby will disagree though)I must admit I do wander around my garden daydreaming every day for a while but it is a guilty pleasure I am sticking with... Happy New Year Deidre Thanks for your comments. Wandering around the garden dreaming of how I can change things or enjoying the flowers is a pleasure I hope not to give up for a long time. Too hot in Sydney right now for any gardening apart from watering the pots. After 8 inches of rain last week, at least the garden beds are moist for a while... Deirdre

  • By margaret 2122 Tuesday, 12 January 2016

    Your tips are so useful and practical! For years I have demurred about removing plants, but have resolved to be "tough" this year, especially as space is at a premium. Thank you for your thoughts. I hope I can stick to my resolve of removing the underperformers! Deirdre

  • By Valerie 2121 Wednesday, 13 January 2016

    Thanks Deidre for your gardening blog and website. I enjoy reading it all very much. Your advice is always spot on and I"ve looked up your plant reference section many times. Best wishes for another year of writing and gardening. There"s nothing quite like forgetting oneself (and the rest) in the garden. Thanks so much, Valerie. It is lovely to get your feedback. Deirdre

  • By Ruth 3185 Monday, 18 January 2016

    Ruth 3185, I agree with the daily tour of the estate. Not only to pull up weeds and dead head, but to think beautiful thoughts and just enjoy fresh air. My husband accompanies me on these tours and over years has learned about the garden and has developed a small enthusiasm. I hope to have more success with my sandy soil, as I have now a good supply of leaf mold, courtesy of next door"s deciduous trees. I find putting it in planting holes a real boon. Thank you for your blog, regards Ruth

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