In 2024, I want to create a haven that strikes the perfect balance between romantic abundance and enough order to show it is taken care of.
We are getting our shed mended and a new fence put in over winter, so by summer I can grow climbers up it, making it look as though it has always been there.
Up on the allotment, I plan to build a seating area by our wildlife pond to while away long summer evenings.
Here are some of my garden resolutions for 2024. I would love to hear yours.
Get digging: Planting a tree will create shade in summer and a habitat for birds
Little and often
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by our gardens or, conversely, if we have only a balcony or tiny outside space to think: ‘What’s the point?’ But the truth is that with regular attention, any garden , however large or small, will become a more welcoming place that we want to spend time in. Half an hour or even ten minutes a day can make a big difference.
Plant a tree
If there is one thing that we can do to help wildlife and the environment, it is to plant a new tree. This will have all sorts of benefits, from creating a habitat for birds and mini-beasts to providing shade in summer. Choose the right tree for your garden, so if you only have a small space try a pear tree on dwarf rootstock such as Concorde, or a Magnolia stellata with pretty felt buds opening into starry white flowers.
Peat bogs are massive carbon sinks that have taken millions of years to form and are irreplaceable. Where possible when buying new plants, look for those that have been grown in a peat-free medium and buy peat-free compost, or make your own. Homemade compost saves you money and contains all the beneficial mycorrhizal fungi.
Grow from seed
It is much more cost-effective to grow from seed rather than buy ready-grown plants. Packets of seeds cost only a few pounds each. Some of my favorites are sweet peas, broad beans, calendula, poppies, salad leaves, squashes, cosmos, and love-in-a-mist.
Recycle and reuse
Making use of what we already have is not only easier on our wallets but also better for the planet. Wash out old plastic pots and trays and reuse them for as long as possible. Start seeds off in any small container filled with growing medium, from empty yogurt pots to toilet roll tubes.
Make time to relax
Most of us are time-poor, so the trend for a more laidback style of gardening suits us. We can even feel smug about our wild plots, as seedheads and dried grasses left over from winter provide food and shelter for wildlife.
Full of joy
Never forget to find joy in your outdoor space. Many studies show the positive effect of gardening on our mental health. When I am digging on my allotment, or weeding a border, I often lose track of time and tune into the gentler pace of bees bumbling between flowers and birds singing their little socks off. This is what gardening is all about.