New Year - New Garden

Every January I gaze adoringly at seed catalogues and like a child in a sweet shop, seduced by the colour and variety of the photographs, I always order far too many packets of seeds. If it’s not quite a case of ‘eyes bigger than my belly’, I know I definitely have ideas above my station as in the depths of a bare and leafless winter I seem to conveniently forget just how full my garden already is and imagine I have much more space for new things than I really do. This year though things will be quite different, I have to restrain myself and not give in to temptation, fingers crossed this house is sold and very soon we’ll be moving on and for a while, not long I hope, I will have no garden of my own at all. But it’s a means to an end and when it does come the next garden I am determined will be bigger and offer much more scope for growing the things I don’t have the space for here. More vegetables and fruit, more trees and dare I even hope for it, a meadow or at least a place to create a very small one. On a shelf of a bookcase in my office is my most treasured possession, a box of seeds gathered in hope and optimism over this last year of plants I shall be sad to leave behind. Marsh mallow, white campion, Primula florindae, wild carrot, meadowsweet, an unnamed buttercup relative which came from Great Dixter and many more. All plants of low lying damp ground and not knowing where the next garden will be I don’t know if these will be the types of plants which will flourish there. I’ll be sad to be without these old friends but if the new garden comes with different growing conditions it will also bring new and exciting opportunities. Wherever it is it will tell me itself what it wants to grow, not in so many words but with its aspect, position and soil and it might be the chance, as with all home moves, to make new friends, plant as well as human. Just like us, plants have their own preferences for where they live and we can learn the basics from books but it’s only when we put thought into choosing the right plants for the places we have, watching them grow and understanding their needs that we can develop a lasting relationship with them. Like all relationships there’s give and take and as all gardeners know, the ones we have with our own piece of the earth might sometimes mean cold hands and feet, nettle stings and thorn scratches, but on a lovely summers day with a gentle breeze, the scent of the flowers and the song of the birds there really is no other place like it.