Some New Year's resolutions

Sunday, 09 January 2011

One of the Abutilon axed

Happy New Year to all! I hope that everyone's garden is thriving. It is that time of year to be making New Year's resolutions, and I have been trying to think of a few to guide me for the year ahead. Whether or not I will be able to follow them remains to be seen! One thing I have in mind is to reduce the number of pots in my 'pot holding area' - an area of ground at the top of the garden where newly purchased plants and plants I have propagated from cuttings sit ... and sit ... often for a very long time, years even, as they await a spot in a border to be planted out. Requiring daily watering in these hot months, they silently reproach me as they remain there, trapped in a pot-bound condition, totally reliant on me to meet their basic needs. The fact is that my garden is now very full of plants and there are basically no spaces left for these poor things. Some are in such poor condition that they are only fit for the compost heap, and so I have been hardheartedly evaluating each and every plant to see if they are worth keeping, and if so, where they can be planted. The lucky ones that have been found a place seem to breathe a sigh of relief as they are eased out of their pots and tucked into the ground, allowing them to spread their roots and fend for themselves at last, making me feel even more of a monster for keeping them in captivity for so long. The pot holding area is gradually being reduced in size - and a subsidiary resolution is not to acquire any new plants this year: a tall order for a greedy gardener, so it will be interesting to see if I can stick to this one!

Salvia involucrata x karwinskii, a large plant that I have recently removed

Another vow I have made is to evaluate each and every plant already in the garden, to see if it actually deserves to be grown. Plants with a very short flowering period, those which take up a lot of space, and those that require a lot of maintenance in terms of cutting back or vigilance against pests, are under the microscope. It is often hard to axe a plant we have grown for so long, but in any garden, a plant has to earn its keep. Some of the really large Salvia specimens I have, alas, had to 'let go' - a difficult decision for plants that have been part of my life for such a long time, but they really do take up an inordinate amount of space and require a lot of pruning. I have also had to be ruthless with several Abutilon shrubs: the nasty leaf-rolling caterpillar seems to be getting more aggressive every summer, reducing some of my plants to defoliated skeletons. Some forms seem to be more immune than others to attack, so I am concentrating on those ones. Other plants for the chop are those that really don't suit our climate. The bonus of this evaluation process is that it frees up room to plant out some of the poor potted plants!

A further pledge I have made to myself is to spend time in the garden every day, even if it is only for a few minutes. In my younger years, nothing short of a whole day spent in the garden seemed worthwhile, but with competing demands on my time these days, that remains something of a daydream. Quite a lot can be achieved in half an hour, I have found, and it restores peace to the soul in a busy life.

My garden journal for the years 1995 to 1997

A final goal is to resurrect my garden journal, which I began almost 30 years ago and kept diligently until recent times. The early entries do make for hilarious reading, at a time when I grandly thought I could reproduce an English country estate in my suburban block, and was under the delusion that any plant I wanted to grow would grow. The harsh lessons of reality were recorded over the years in my many failures - I always wrote down what I had planted and then went back to those entries later on to report casualties. It is amazing to see how one's garden evolves over the years. Ideas, plans, dreams and hopes all found their way into my garden journal, as were the occasional successes. It was also a good place to note when plants flowered, so that planting combinations could be imagined for future years, or to record inspiring planting schemes seen in other gardens. It is not necessary to use a fancy journal, though I have sometimes had these over the years - any old exercise book will do for the purpose. The main thing is to write in it, frequently, and reread it regularly to remind yourself of what you want your garden to be.

Happy gardening for 2011!

Reader Comments

  • By Ann 2076 Monday, 10 January 2011

    Welcome back, and even happier gardening in 2011! Even in our small patch, I know the dilemma about those potted cuttings - are they for our garden or will they go elsewhere? However the making of new plants is always tempting whatever the outcome.

    Thanks, Ann. I guess I will never completely get over my plant addiction, and already today I heard of a new Salvia that sounds tempting! Deirdre

  • By Densey 2446 Monday, 10 January 2011

    I know the problem! Youd think that with 5 acres there would be no lack of space. But I spend much time wandering around with potted plant in hand looking for a bare spot of earth! The shadehouse of this dedicated propagator overflows with leggy plants desperate for a home! Densey Clyne

    Thanks, Densey. I guess all keen gardeners have the same experiences. Trying to squueze in yet another plant is the story of my life! Deirdre

  • By Peta 2758 Monday, 10 January 2011

    Good to have you back and yes it is hard to axe some plants. For me its a huge Miscanthus transmorrisonensis, lovely when young but now...Sadly a rose One thousand Lights has gone too, simply too big but I did take cuttings. Just put in Daphne Eternal Fragrance - looks interesting.

    Thanks, Peta. Axeing a few old plants is the only way I can find space these days. Deirdre

  • By Janice 2069 Monday, 10 January 2011

    Thanks for sharing all your hopes for 2011, I too have many good intentions,especially with all the growth that we are now experiencing,all slips are growing! Janice

    Yes, the growth in the garden is truly amazing at the moment! Deirdre

  • By Georgina 2076 Monday, 10 January 2011

    Lovely to read your New Year Resolutions. They sound familar. My special cuttings are often in pots for so long I take cuttings from them! Regards,Georgina

    Thanks, Georgina. Eventually I do find places in the garden for my cuttings but usually something else has to go! Deirdre

  • By Frances 3941 Tuesday, 11 January 2011

    welcome back and happy new year! the old potted plants waiting around for years story!, yes, a familiar tale, mine often die just from forgetting to water them........... :-(

    Glad to know I am not the only culprit! Deirdre

  • By therese 2119 Tuesday, 11 January 2011

    Welcome back Deidre - you sound well rested & I look forward to your bright & cheerful ideas! Good luck finding that 30 mins a day, plus 10 mins for Italian plus 'family time', etc. etc. My resolution is to get outside much earlier for gardening, etc - starting tomorrow! Happy re-potting.....Therese

    Thanks, Therese. There are never enough minutes in the day for everything I would like to do! Deirdre

  • By gillian 2121 Wednesday, 12 January 2011

    happy gardening for 2011. It all sounds very familiar runnung around the garden pot in hand. I TAKE PHOTOS OF GARDEN AT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE YEAR , NOT TO GOOD AT KEEPING A JOURNAL. GOOD LUCK about not buying plants. the wild garden Gillian

    Thanks, Gillian. The photos are a good idea to keep a record. Don't know how I will go not buying plants. I am sure to succumb! Deirdre

  • By Sue 2074 Friday, 14 January 2011

    Great NYs resolutions - am on the same wavelength trying to cull, assess and deal with the leafroller. I have only 1 abutilon left now. Resisting the new plants,the rescues and taking cuttings will be hard, but good luck to all of us, perhaps we will enjoy the garden more for less.Sue

    Thanks, Sue. It is a challenge re the plants but so far I have not succumbed! Plenty more days left in the year, though! Deirdre

  • By margaret 2122 Tuesday, 01 February 2011

    just read you NYs resolutions - heartily agree with them, and will try to concur in my own garden! Have started to cull plants, something I found hard to do previously, but now find I have to do. Thank you for your thoughts!

    The hot weather has made it easier for me to cull - as watering a lot of pot plants has been such a chore. Deirdre

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