Wishing you all a happy, healthy and – let’s hope, at some point – more “normal” 2021! There’s still a few more days remaining of the festive holidays but I’m already buzzing for the gardening year ahead, says Brian Cunningham.
There’s loads to look forward to this year and for us all in the gardening community to get involved with – visiting gardens again, another Tree of the Year competition, National Children’s Gardening week, Beechgrove will be back on our screens with horticultural royalty Carole Baxter and George Anderson, then we have World Naked Gardening Day but maybe we’re best just leaving that one to the rest of the world…
Also for your calendars on the last weekend of May a new gardening show is planned for the grounds of Scone Palace. It’s certainly a challenge organising an event with what we are going through just now (a situation that led to the demise of Gardening Scotland) but, in my view, our wee country needs a national gardening show.
It’s a chance for us all to get together and celebrate all the plant nurseries, gardens, various groups and talent that we have right here in Scotland and I hope this new show will continue to do just that.
We’ve got all that to come but right now, all I can think about is my own garden and all the good times I’m going to have with that this year.
The way I like to work in the garden is, up until Christmas, it’s all about tidying and putting that year to bed. I like to see all the leaves swept up and put into the compost, areas of long grass trimmed and the veg plot cleared bar the crops I intend to eat over the winter.
After I’ve had my break, the New Year comes in and then it’s all about looking forward. We’ve had the shortest day and – OK the worst of winter is yet to come – but the days are only getting longer and when it does comes out, the heat from the sun will be getting warmer, too. In short, from January 1, the new gardening year has begun!
I quite often hear the comment: “you’ll not be doing much at this time of year”, this tends to irritate me, but I’ll take a deep breath before politely explaining that, actually at this time of year we couldn’t be busier.
I think Mrs C may have an ironic response or two at me saying this: but it does help to do a little planning first. If you’re wanting to make improvements, little tweaks, or try something completely new in your garden this year, it’s a great idea to get the books out or do a little online research on those wet and grey days we’ve got in store. Work out exactly what you need to do and how you are going to do it.
I’m looking to expand veg production in my own garden this year and to do so I’m going to convert an existing bed I have, making it slightly larger at the same time. This is going to mean transplanting a couple of shrubs – digging them up and moving them to another part of the garden – and lifting up some turf.
I can either reuse these cuts for lawn repairs or make a turf stack piling them to about 1m/3ft high, placing them grass to grass and soil to soil on top of each other. This will eventually rot down to create some useful, additional compost for the garden.
Working on wet soil at this time of year can be a problem so aim to do jobs like these during drier spells or get your hands on something like an a scaffolding plank to stand on and work from.
There are advantages of doing jobs like these over the winter months, it gives me a reason to get out into the garden knowing I will have all the prep completed in time for spring, where I’ll be all set to get on with the sowing and growing.
I also like to set myself some gardening resolutions at the start of the year. It’s great being in charge of large grounds but being the manager comes with different responsibilities, so I intend to spend a lot more time in 2021 getting my hands dirty in my own peaceful paradise at home.
As part of that, I am going to get back to growing and propagating lots of my own plants – there’s nothing better for a gardener than taking a packet of seeds, or a cutting, and carefully nurturing it on to a full-grown plant.
What I’m going to do with all these plant I’m not sure but I’ll worry about that later!
A wee job for the weekend
Nipping out for an hour in the fresh air doing little jobs such as edging the lawns, raking up the final pockets of leaves or tidying up around any plants looking good or about to bloom can make a world of difference to the look of your garden. You’ll also have earned yourself that last mince pie!