What is it about the turn of the year that has us all making resolutions, drawing up plans and imagining a better gardening year ahead? Even when I have consciously decided to avoid all the new year hype, I still find myself greeting January with a sense of excitement – a fresh new diary, a new planting plan and a clean sheet to start making notes on. I have been away from regular blogging for some time now and am missing sharing my gardening notes and musings here. I have spent time over the last few days going back over previous January posts and I value the record of years gone by that this blog has become, as well as the incentive it provides to keep on improving the garden. As this is the first post of the year I have taken the liberty of using photos shot in previous years – these are hints of the garden to come later in January – not images of how it is today on the first day of the year.
Above you can see a little of the part of the garden that sits at the front of the house – as the garden wraps around the house we do not have a defined ‘front garden’ as such, but this area is the most mature and hence I have named it ‘The Old Garden’. It is home to the oldest trees and hedges that we have and is enclosed by very old flint walls. In this area sits the old coach house where the parish Rector would have kept his coach and horses in the days before cars. The original mangers are still in the stables, which now act as chicken house, potting shed and garden store room.
This old doorway leads out onto the road – I always get a sense of entering ‘The Secret Garden’ when I come in through this door. Since moving here – now 7 years ago – I have done very little gardening in this area at the front of the house. The grass is cut and the hedges trimmed, but the few beds are left largely to their own devices. It is my plan this year to start to add more colour to this part of the garden – perhaps some old roses to scramble up the flint walls, hydrangeas and lavender to fill out the existing beds and plenty of herbs to add a sense of history to the planting in this area. I am planning to photograph the Old Garden regularly this year and share my progress with you.
I have also been very lax with growing vegetables in the last few years. It was growing my own food that initially sparked my passion for gardening, but as the demands on my time from elsewhere have grown I have let the vegetable garden go. This year with hopefully more time to spare I plan to make a fresh start – there will only be two of us at home on a regular basis so I don’t need to grow a lot, but I do want to make sure there is a supply of home grown treats to harvest. I will be starting by covering some of my rhubarb with my forcer this week – there is nothing to beat the first long pink stems of the year.
I also need to get back on track with my greenhouse. My monthly Greenhouse Review will be back this month, although after the terrible autumn I had there will not be much to show for a while yet. My first plan is to get some herbs going in the propagator to provide some fresh flavours for winter soups and omelettes. These chives are from a couple of years back, but I hope to get some fresh ones growing to use this winter very soon.
Now that January is here I can start to look forward to a new season of flowers! The snowdrops are poking through the soil and should be in flower soon and the first hellebores are already in flower with plenty more that are full of buds. My paperwhites in the greenhouse are just about to flower and I saw the first muscari on a walk earlier today. I am ready to start sowing seeds later this month and will be returning to my monthly round up of what is going on in the Cutting Garden at the end of the month.
So with everything to look forward to I have spent the afternoon ordering my dahlia tubers and planning what vegetables to grow this spring. I will be back tomorrow with my first vase of 2017 and later in the week with my list of early January jobs and a look at how my hellebores are doing. I am keeping my fingers crossed for some better weather as I really would like to get outside this week!
Finally I wish you all – my lovely readers – a very happy New Year and I am looking forward to having lots of lovely flowery and garden related chats with you throughout 2017!