Garden Blog - Blog Post

New Year, New Plan, Same Old Me


Well, this is the first post of 2018 and I’m writing this a little on the fly, so it may not be entirely coherent. I hope everyone had a good holiday season and I wish everyone a Happy New Year. Since my last post on the strelitzia, I’m proud to say that three weeks later it is still flowering and there are more flowers to come. Out in the garden, we have a flowering break; we’re barely hanging on to the cyclamen flowers from plants that were just planted this autumn. The Christmas box should be opening very soon but the garden has been too wet to walk out and check.

Much winter clear-up work remains

From looking at the blog from last winter, we can expect the crocus to start flowering around mid-February, they’re just in leaf at the moment and they may be a little delayed as I dumped a thick mulch over the bed this winter. In our previous garden, I did manage to have flowers every day of the year, even in the depths of winter. We haven’t managed this in the new garden just yet. We’re missing key plants such as winter flowering honeysuckle and Mahonia Japonica that would carry us over this current time of year until the early spring bulbs and early spring plants such as the Camellias begin to flower. We do have a Wintersweet (Chimonanthus Praecox) but it is very young and not mature enough to flower yet.

The skies remain dull and overcast as yet more rain falls on the garden. Our heavy clay soil means walking on the saturated ground is a no-no, putting a pause to the current winter clear-up work and preventing me from mulching the borders. The borders themselves are doing exactly what they should be and soaking up the rain like a sponge, holding it in store for the (hopefully) dry summer months. Right back at the start – when we just had grass – water would pool on the surface after heavy rain, now with the borders this no longer occurs because of the worked soil and improved drainage. It’s interesting to note just how much the hydrology of the garden has changed with the borders but given the most of work that went into creating them, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Drainage is much better with the borders, but work isn’t yet finished

I’ve been receiving seed and garden catalogues as one does around this time of year. Due to Fruit Avenue, I receive several fruit and vegetable catalogues and while I am still strictly and ornamental gardener (apart from the sixteen metre border dedicated to fruit), I’m becoming more and more tempted by the idea of “growing your own”, I still this it is an exercise in feeding the local wildlife, but I can feel myself becoming brainwashed by the constant “veggie growers” in catalogues, blogs, gardening TV and online. I may yet succumb to the temptation.

Landing Pad borders arrive in 2018

Back to the tile of this post: it’s now a new year and I need a plan for it. The plan for 2017 was to “sort out the back”, which I feel I did. All four corners of the garden are now easily accessible, I now have a compost heap and being underneath the trees at the back of the garden is such a nice place to be I’m considering how I can put in some seating to enjoy it. We also now have a Landing Pad. I think the plan for 2018 may be to create the borders around the Landing Pad to bring it into the rest of the garden. Side-projects will include clearing more rubbish from the garden and preparing the area where the bamboo was taken out, ready for planting beech as a hedge in the next bare-root season. The hedges also need some work to bring them back under control and I’d also like to try and get round to starting the large semi-circular herbaceous border that covers almost a third of the garden.

Clearing the back in 2017 means that I am now actually over the half-way mark for “completing” the garden. There was so much rubbish cleared and so much area restored last year that looking out from the upstairs window, I’ve just realised the only area left after the Landing Pad borders are complete and the remaining rubbish has been cleared, is the large semi-circular herbaceous border; this significant milestone whizzed by without me even noticing it!

A final remaining area of rubbish to sort this year

It’s taken almost four years to come to a point where the “end” is coming into sight. I put “completing” and “end” in quotes because a garden is never really finished, but what it means to me is that I stop “restoring” the garden and shift to its on-going, longer-term maintenance. The “end” means there will be no more areas to clear, no more piles of rubbish to remove and no more borders to create. Ongoing work will involve keeping the existing borders and plants in check and perhaps changing a few things here and there. This point is still several years into the future but for now, in 2018, it’s a New Year and I have settled on a new plan for it. I would say that I will try and take more time to enjoy the garden and try to not be so focussed on getting the work done to the detriment of rest and relaxation, but I’ve said this a few times before and its not happened, I know myself too well and in that sense, it’s still the same old me.

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author & gardener

Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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gardeninacity 06/01/2018 - 2:34 am

Your garden is taking shape very nicely. Of course, the garden will never really be complete, that’s part of the fun.

Sunil 10/01/2018 - 4:15 pm

Thanks, Jason, a garden is never really completed, but the days of digging large new borders and borrowing in tonnes of compost and manure should end some day an then it’ll be keeping the whole lot “ticking over”, though I suspect it won’t be that simple.

Sarah Shoesmith 10/01/2018 - 1:16 pm

That water-soaked border edge is strangely familiar. Like you, I garden on clay. With hard work, organic matter, and aching limbs the soil improves with time. Here’s to your garden in 2018. May Fruit Avenue be laden with produce and if you do decide to venture into more edibles, may you be blessed with an extensive collection of courgette recipes!

Sunil 10/01/2018 - 4:19 pm

Hello Sarah, it’s much better than it was but I don’t think we’ll ever see then end of water-soaked border edges as there’s to much clay and water. Compost and manure continue to be borrowed in by the bulk bag and will continue on for some time. Thank you for your New Year blessings and all the best to you and your garden for 2018 too!

Jean 03/02/2018 - 2:37 am

Sunil, I’m late getting to this. I’m still amazed that you can garden pretty much year round, since my garden is under snow from November until April. But, like you, I find it very satisfying to turn the page on a new year and develop a new garden plans. This will be year four of my five-year plan for the front garden, so I am also seeing light at the end of a long project.

Sunil 05/02/2018 - 9:37 am

Hello Jean, your harsh winters give you an enforced break whereas I have to struggle to come up with excuses for not going outside to garden – usually, “it’s too wet” will do because we do have a lot of rain and the ground stays boggy often (it takes time to drain) and working on this type of ground is bad for the soil structure. I’m looking forward to reading your posts as you come to the end of your five year plan, you’ve always been so organised, the best I can manage is a vague to-do list!


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