Garden News - New Year New Garden Project
The new year is a great excuse to try something different and get inspired by a new garden project for 2023. Adding a new element to a garden can breath life into an old space and rejuvenate enthusiasm. Read my three-page feature in Garden News magazine packed with inspiration and encouragement for the New Year with a new garden project.
Add Garden Art
Artwork provides a fabulous focus point within a garden. It can help create a calm space for contemplation, a space to think. Art can have personal meaning or simply be something you like. There are infinite choices to suit all budgets; from bespoke mirrors, handcrafted animals from wood or willow, to floral metal sculptures. Adding art to a garden adds fun, personality and perhaps even tells a story. Artwork can turn garden spaces into an enchanting journey which begs to be explored.
Create a Crevice Garden
If you have a rocky garden or are simply short on space, try planting alpines in stone cracks, walls or steps and fill gaps with fabulous flora. A crevice garden mimics the mountainous environment where alpine’s naturally grow; recreate this by standing stones horizontally or vertically and adding a mixture of grit, sand and compost. Plant a combination of aubrieta, sempervivum, saxifraga, stonecrop sedum or Erinus alpinus, fairy foxglove for a glorious evergreen display.
Alpines are incredibly tough, braving fluctuating temperatures, altitude, intense UV light and strong winds so urban and country gardens pose little challenge for these hardy perennials as long as there is good drainage. These low maintenance compact plants are perfect for small gardens.
Add a New Border
You can never have too many borders and a new border is a great excuse for new plants. Whether you grow your own by propagating plants or visit your local nursery for supplies, a new border is a fantastic opportunity to design and create. Introduce style themes using colour, try a hot border, white border, or keep it practical with edibles, go exotic with tropicals, or embrace formal or cottage designs. A new border poses endless possibilities. Time to get creative!
Experiment with Unusual Planters
Add a playful edge to your garden with quirky planters which will bring a smile. You can use basically anything as a planter as long as it has drainage holes. Why not try an old bath tub, hiking boots, chair, chimney or wheelbarrow. Ornamental grasses, flowers or colourful edibles can be planted in recycled objects from the home and garden. Got a spare colander? No space for that chest of drawers? Watering can got a hole in it? Don’t despair, give these items a second life, fill them with gritty compost and get planting. Turn potential rubbish into a stylish garden feature.
Garden for Wildlife
Make your garden a wildlife haven. Gardens are ecosystems bursting with life so make these spaces happy places for wildlife to thrive. Resist the temptation to rake up leaves meticulously; a pile of leaves provides perfect habitat for toads and beetles. Make a log pile; stack up pruned branches, the wood will provide an ideal habitat for many insects from spiders to woodlice. Make a bug hotel from bamboo sticks, pine cones, bricks, straw and twigs using what you can find around your garden and let your garden grow wild with pollinator friendly plants to attract bees, butterflies and hoverflies.
Add a Pond
Whatever size your garden, make room for a pond, whether you have space for a large natural pond or a watertight container on a patio, the local wildlife will soon move in. Ponds are magnets for life, from dragonflies to frogs, birds to insects; build it and they will come. Not only are ponds wonderful for wildlife but they provide a calm, relaxing space for us gardeners to sit and observe. They are beautiful design features as well as playing a fundamental role in keeping creatures alive by providing a water source and a place to live and breed. Being around water and wildlife can also have a very positive affect on our wellbeing.
Give your garden a tropical feel this year with exotic plants. Many exotics like Musa basjoo, banana plants and Dicksonia antarctica, tree ferns are very easy to look after. Surprisingly lots of exotic plants are hardy and can tolerate the UK’s changeable weather or can be wrapped in fleece to get through winter.
Exotics add structure to gardens and are a bold statement. Many have dramatic large leaves, are evergreen and well suited to growing in containers which is ideal as this allows the flexibility to move them during summer and winter to warmer or shadier spots. Hardy palms like Trachycarpus fortunei, Chusan Palm or Phoenix canariensis, Canary Island Date Palm are solid border plants that need little intervention.
Add an Irrigation System
With summer’s getting drier our poor plants can suffer, particularly if heat waves coincide with holidays but a helping hand is close by. Utilise collected rain water and install a drip feeder to keep soil moist; water the roots not the soil surface. Drip feeders transport water along a series of small pipes which extend from a water butt or tap and can be placed in pots or borders to provide a consistent water supply to keep your plants perky even in the height of summer. Install an irrigation system to your pots and borders and take the worry out of going away during a drought.
The taste of homegrown food is delicious and nutritious and whether you are gardening on a windowsill or aspire to an allotment, growing your own food is immensely rewarding. Growing edibles gives you the opportunity to try something different, to grow without pesticides, and at a slower pace so food matures for longer before it is harvested and is packed with healthy vitamins. It may be winter but there are lots of edibles that can be sown inside to quench the desire to grow. Sow a tray of microgreens, these quick growing leaves are packed with concentrated goodness, take up little space and are super-easy to grow. Simply snip leaves and sprinkle on a salad or in a sandwich.
All photos and text © Debi Holland 2023