Out with the Old, In with the New
A gardener's job
is never done and, as Stephen Anderton reveals, each
new year brings a new set of resolutions...
Gardeners tend to
be the kind of people who just get on with life quietly.
They have to be, when things are always dying, or being
attacked by insects and mould. And then there's the
weather. No, gardeners have to have thick skins.
But still it is good
now and then to stop and think, and to make a few active
resolutions about what you will do in the next 12 months.
It feels rather good having the imaginary upper hand
over life and death and the weather for once, even though
secretly you know the season's success will depend on
you making all the usual compromises with the enemy.
So. What to resolve?
What will I try to do this year?
I am going to give
things up. Certain plants in particular. It is not easy
getting rid of plants that have been with you for years.
It's like giving up smoking. You almost do it.
You get rid of most of it, but keep just one little
bit, and in a couple of years you and your golden rod
are back at 40 a day.
About to make their
exit from my garden this year are Shasta daisies and
the little golden rod 'Lemore'. I love them both dearly,
but life moves on. The daisies in this garden are always
riddled with pollen
beetles, which come in from the fields. The golden
rod is over in a flash in this light dry soil. So out
The great point about
getting rid of things - and you must always remember
this - is that it makes room for new things. Again,
like life. How many people do you get to know really
well in a lifetime? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? Not enough,
must surely be everyone's answer. And so it is with
plants. By getting rid of something in your garden,
you make space to get to know something new. You will
always keep the things that you love and give their
all for you, but the less-than-perfects - the 90-percenters
- will be let go. Life has to move on.
I further resolve,
when filling those new spaces, always to buy enough
plants to make a small group. With trees and shrubs,
one is usually enough, but with perennials
one is rarely enough. I shall try to make myself buy
in threes, so there is none of this "split it to make
a group next year but surround it with annuals
this year" nonsense. I shall garden as if this year
is to be my last, and try to get everything looking
exactly as I want it. (That's not a bad resolution too,
though it sounds a bit grim. Must be a reaction to last
year's lousy summer!)
I also resolve to
see more gardens. There is nothing like looking at other
people's gardens for making you learn what you like
and dislike. I shall try to get hold of the National
Garden Scheme's Yellow Book, and the local Red Cross
listings, and the Good Gardens Guide, and the English
Heritage and National Trust handbooks, and make sure
I see enough new gardens in 2001.
Don't ask me what
is enough. Sometimes you visit a garden and think, I
hate that! Enough is enough! Sometimes you visit a garden
and come away with a list of plants to look up, and
things you want to introduce into your garden. Enough
can be seeing just that number of other people's gardens
to keep you constantly fresh in your attitude to your
own, constantly reappraising and able to develop and
The best kind of
enough (and this happens to me sometimes) is when you
go to a garden and see something so clever and exciting,
in planting or design, that you want to leave then and
there, not stay to the bitter end, and see every last
corner, and have tea, and look in the shop. You want
to just go away, and treasure the memory, and think
about how that particular trick is pulled off, and whether
you could use it at home. That is true inspiration,
and it is invaluable.
with premission from Greenfingers.com