New Year gardening resolutions

By Tamsin Westhorpe

Tamsin Westhorpe suggests we look to the garden for the best start to 2023

What will this year hold for the garden?

There is no way of knowing so gardeners must prepare for everything. The best way of doing this is to put on an extra layer of clothing and keep gardening through the winter. Leave everything until the warmth of spring and you’ll be overwhelmed with the tasks.

Setting yourself a garden related New Year resolution is the perfect way to kick start the year and the most rewarding way to work off that Christmas excess. If you are anything like me, you’ll have far more than one plant related resolution. If you thought that January was a time to put your feet up, then think again. There are so many essential gardening tasks to be getting on with that can all act as positive resolutions.

Planting time

As long as the ground isn’t frozen it’s the perfect time to plant hedging, trees, shrubs and roses. Why not make the decision to only buy from small, specialist local nurseries this year? You’ll be saving on fuel and packaging.

What better promise could there be than planning to plant a tree in 2023? Choosing a tree as a family is the prefect way to get everyone in your household involved with the garden. If your resolution is to get the kids away from their screens more this year then start the ball rolling with a group tree planting.

January is a time that snowdrops appear to brighten our days. Now is the perfect time to treat yourself to some flowering snowdrops and start your own drift of winter blooms. If you are looking for that flower power, then keep an eye on the snowdrop gardens that are open in February for the National Garden Scheme.

A very enjoyable and rewarding resolution is to visit open gardens outside of the high summer season – you’ll then find all sorts of plants that will offer spring and winter interest to your garden.

Undercover gardening

Indoor gardening is something that should be embraced in the cooler months. There’s nothing wrong with having fun propagating plants indoors (invest in a large tray to catch any compost!). It’s the perfect time to take hardwood cuttings from shrubs such as forsythia and cornus. You could even sow your sweet peas!

After Christmas shopping you might not feel up to doing even more but some well-thought-out plant shopping now will save you time, money, and disappointment later in the year. It’s a great time to buy clematis, fruit bushes and seeds.

Leave it until spring and you might be disappointed as favourites often sell out fast. Treating yourself to an amaryllis bulb or two and planting it in an indoor pot is a great way to welcome in spring.

The Christmas tree will soon be taken down so why not replace it with a house plant? If you are buying house plants in winter make sure that they are well protected from the cold on the journey home.

Winter clean

If the weather is mild then January is a great time to start on projects in the garden. Mark out new beds, build a compost heap and install raised beds. Don’t be tempting to build with concrete in this often-chilly season as cold, freezing temperature can damage the effectiveness of this material.

Every gardener should make a promise to themselves that now is the best time to clear out the shed. Spending a few hours sharpening, cleaning and oiling tools is so worthwhile.

If you want to choose just one gardening resolution then I ask you to pick this one – install a water butt. With our changing climate the more water we collect for later in the season the better.

Happy new year!

Top New Year Resolutions for Gardeners

- Buy from local, specialist nurseries - Visit open gardens outside of the summer high season - Plant trees and shrubs in winter to avoid so much watering in summer - Shop for popular plants now to avoid disappointment - Clear out the shed and sharpen tools - Encourage children to garden - Build a compost heap - install as many water butts as you can

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Tamsin Westhorpe

With over 25 years’ experience in the horticultural industry, Tamsin has plenty of practical, hands on advice to share. Her career has seen her edit The English Garden magazine for six years, write scripts for TV gardening, lecture at Kingston Maurward College in Dorset and care for parks and gardens. She is now a freelance writer and curator and gardener of Stockton Bury Gardens, Herefordshire (listed by The Times in the top 20 gardens to visit July 2017). Tamsin is also an RHS Chelsea Flower Show Judge, co-Chair of The Garden Media Guild and a prolific speaker at many high profile events. She has recently written her first book ‘Diary of a Modern Country Gardener’ published by Orphans Publishing and is the voice of the popular Candide Gardening podcast ‘Fresh from the pod’.

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