New Year, new blog post, new garden plans

It’s 2023! Garden-wise January can be a bit of a grim month. Everything looks brown and soggy and the days are still very short and usually cold, offering far fewer opportunities to get outside and do anything more than tidying up fallen leaves or cut down decaying stalks.

I do always get strangely excited about the turn of the year though, because I know that very soon I’ll be seeing the first little shoots of bulbs poking through the soil – and in fact many of them are already doing just that. January also means it will soon be time to start some early seed sowings. True, it’s still much too early for most annuals or vegetables, but there are a few seeds which do benefit from an early start, especially in Scotland, if you can time it right. 

Bulb shoots are nosing their way out of the soil in my back garden

Instead of making new year resolutions, I prefer to consider what I’ll do more of and what I’ll do less of each year. These are small shifts, as opposed to grand gestures, which are more likely to fall by the wayside.

In the past 12 months I’ve moved up from part time working hours to full time – and that has definitely impacted on the time I can spend in the garden, so I’m taking that into consideration for my 2023 growing plan.       

What will I do less of in the garden this year? 

  • Grow dahlias – I tell myself every year not to buy too many dahlias, and I inevitably fail miserably! However this year I think I’ve really learning my lesson – the dahlias definitely suffered because a lack of time, not to mention the very cold weather we had quite suddenly in November, and as a result of not lifting them and protecting them at the right point I’ve lost most of this year’s tubers.  So this year I will grow fewer dahlias and look after them better. I’m certain I’ll enjoy growing, taking cuttings and nurturing a smaller group, especially if it results in a better display of flowers from them this year. 
  • Growing less, better! – Again, my time in the garden is more limited than it used to be – and I want to avoid spiralling into overwhelm because I have 40 million seedlings to pot on, grass up to my knees and borders full of weeds! So simplification is the key – growing a smaller collection of vegetables, cut flowers and hopefully keeping on top of things as much as possible.
  • Spend less time in the garden – but MORE OFTEN. This is key – I may not have 2 hours to spare every day but I can still get a lot done in 10/15 minutes, or half an hour here and there – and I’m reminded of that every time I do it. Pulling a few weeds, deadheading flowers, pricking out a few seedlings – these things never take quite as long as I think and even a short spell in the garden or greenhouse is time well spent on my own health and a welcome break from work or home life! 
  • Hatching chicks – we love hatching and raising little chicks, but after a difficult time rehoming a number of boys last year, I swore I would not do it again. I’m planning to sell the incubator and enjoy the lovely hens we already have this year.
Molly approves of my plan…

What will I do more of in the garden this year? 

  • Design – I need to revamp one of the main patio areas in the garden; it’s been looking sad and bare (apart from the weeds) all winter and it’s one of our main sitting areas when the weather is good, so I really need to crack on, decide what we’re going to do with it and then get it done! I have a vision for a combination of circular paving, gravel and some drought tolerant, airy planting.
  • More design – I’m interested in Scone Palace’s design competition (details on their Facebook page) – I have no idea if I can do it, but I’d love to give it a try and I already have a few ideas around a possible theme… it seems like a good starting point to test my garden design skills, which I am currently studying to acquire so that I can pass some…
  • …exams – I’m determined to complete the RHS Level 2 course this year so that I can finally achieve a horticulture qualification. Two more exams to go in February – fingers crossed!
  • Pollinator friendly plants – more, more, more. I think this (and a decent level of drought tolerance) will be guiding my decision making this year – I just love seeing bees, hoverflies, butterflies, bee flies, ladybirds, all manner of insects flying or crawling around the flowers in my garden, so I’ll be choosing and growing more of the kinds plants which attract them and feed them. 
  • Podcasting?? This is a very tentative late entry. I miss writing and recording and meeting new and interesting Scottish gardening people. I might need to experiment a bit with format, content or routine, but if I can work out a way to make podcasting fit into my life alongside work, family and the garden itself, then you might be seeing some new episodes of The Scottish Garden Podcast in 2023…
I’ll be growing more pollinator friendly plants in 2023, like this Knauti macedonica, which bees love

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