How Does Your Garden Grow?

In the 24th of her series Clippings From A Small Garden, travel writer Pat Richardson shares the pleasure of her own little corner of heaven to come home to

Gardening Tools

With Spring in the air, and evident in flowerbeds, patio pots, hanging baskets and windowboxes, there’s no better time to assess your garden.

The basic structure is easily seen now, shapes are clear, gaps are visible, scale can be assessed. All this gives you a blueprint to work with. Don’t rush it. Make notes of what needs moving or replacing and what’s missing. I start this exercise in January, and start taking action in February. First I call professionals in to prune and shape my trees, before birds start building their nests; and others to prune the Wisteria, stop it running wild and persuade it to produce more flowers.

As well, I check to see which shrubs need cutting back, reining in or reshaping; then check my pruning book to see when it should done. If now, I get on with it; if later, I put the chore on the calendar. Keeping a gardening calendar is a must if you want to keep on top of seasonal tasks. It’s also somewhere to note what will be flowering when so you don’t dig it up by mistake! If I see gaps where I’d like some Spring colour, I mark them on my garden map (another essential tool) then look through garden catalogues for good candidates, and make a calendar note to order them in good time.

And of course, this is also an opportunity to revise or refine my overall garden plan – which as all true gardeners will know, is always a work in progress and never a job completed. A dedicated garden calendar and detailed garden map are not the only tools I work with; I also use a camera to track and keep evidence of what happens when and where in the garden. This shows up where new plants will work wonders, and the shapes, sizes and colours that will work best. It also shows what I call structural absences, most of which can be cured by introducing groundcover plants or something, be it short and bushy or tall and slender, to fill a gap. or perhaps form a backdrop. All such perspectives are more easily discerned at this early stage of the year.

As you bring each element of your garden into proportion with the others to make one harmonious whole, you see that you are also reinvigorating it – and that’s a good look. And when you come to assess it again early next year, you’ll see a rewarding difference. So don’t delay too much longer; now is the time!

Pat Richardson has many years experience as a travel writer including 16 years as Travel Editor on Best Magazine. She has since turned freelance and writes mainly for the Daily Telegraph’s Escorted Travel and Cruise Supplements. As well as tending her own delightful Kew garden, she runs, a writing and editing service and consultancy, and, a website showcasing properties with a past.