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January Notes

My top 5 resolves for success on the plots in 2022

This year I am banking on the energy of that optimism and awe, starting the year with a fresh notebook, new Christmas snips and a hori hori knife for weeding together with a smart fountain pen for taking notes. I am ready for it.

I don’t usually go in for New Year’s Resolutions – January is dark enough not to add abstinence to the challenge, so instead I have a ‘resolve list’ for the garden and even in the dark mid-winter, retain that excitement for the year ahead. Committing these notes to print, will, I hope, promote success! So here is what I have so far -

1. It is my year of the compost! I am starting with a talk by the ‘Land Gardeners’, (now rescheduled to February, there are still tickets) and make more of this in our gardens. Turning the heaps are usually way down on my list but after just spreading barrows today, it is utterly joyful to recycle the garden through the heaps, and I know I can make much more and quicker too.

2. Seedlings will be potted-on swiftly and not let them idle in their trays. This should be an easy one as we have just extended our little polytunnel and it is one of my favourite places to be. I will also be teaching much more from it – that point between germination and planting out is one of the most enjoyed practical in our classes.

3. I’m going to carry about a sharp hoe as I walk around the garden and most importantly, use it! I was never taught to use a hoe, it was hand weeding for me. I have learnt how invaluable these are. Slice off a weed on a warm dry day, mid-morning, and it will shrivel in the sun leaving the roots to feed the soil microbes and in turn the plants you want to grow. It saves so much time and best of all, doesn’t disturb the soil at all. I read that if you hoe soil in the evening beneath plants in the summer, as much as a couple of millimetres of dew can be collected from the warm air beneath plants and essentially create a self-watering system.

4. That notebook will stay in the studio, in the centre of the plots, and I hope to scribble a line or two whenever I remember. Recording observations is well known to aid memory and I like the idea of flicking back and remembering the garden through the seasons this time next year. Better than photos. Somehow writing will take me back to the time, emotion and experience where a photo doesn’t manage it.

5. And finally, I like to have a new project and I have been re-inspired by Great Dixter and their exotic garden. I fancy some cannas again after not growing them for several house moves. Together with melianthus, verbena bonarienses and single flowered bright coloured dahlias, in pots all around our large table intermingled with our succulents outside all summer. I can see it now, sitting out on a warm morning or balmy sunset, surrounded by a jungle of colour and foliage. I am really looking forward to it and I hope you come visit to join me.

Very best wishes for a happy 2022 to you.

Originally published Cambridge Edition January 2022

1 comment

1 Comment

Jan 19, 2022

Lovely as ever, I’m off to buy a hoe!

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