Gardening tips - take stock and plan ahead for the year

Snowdrop season at Rode Hall Country House and Gardens. UK City Images (

Snowdrop season at Rode Hall Country House and Gardens. UK City Images ( - Credit:

The new year is the time for gardeners to take stock and plan ahead, writes Cheshire Life gardening columnist Jacqui Brocklehurst

With much fanfare and jubilation we bid 2013 a fond farewell and welcome in the new with open arms and smiling faces.

After raising a glass of bubbly and wishing one another a ‘Happy New Year’ our thoughts will turn to the usual resolutions; drink less, exercise more. Noble intentions that are impossible to carry out!

For gardeners too it is the time to take stock and plan for the year ahead. Seed catalogues are an excellent source of inspiration as are gardening magazines. I love to curl up in front of a roaring fire and delve into the spring and summer copies of my favourite gardening magazines. Armed with a new notebook, a pair of scissors and a glue stick I will cut out favourite images of inspiring gardens, plants and architecture and gradually build up a collection of ideas for my own garden. I will write notes reminding myself of where I can buy a much coveted plant and why I like a particular plant combination. This will become my dream book for the year ahead.

One of the first things I do when working with a new client is encourage them to put together a dream board. This helps establish a potential style for a garden and identifies likes and dislikes. Inspiration can be drawn from so many sources. The colours of a sensational sunset may inspire a planting scheme while a memorable beach scene may influence the hard landscaping materials chosen for a new design.

Winter is a good time to look at the structure of your garden. If your outdoor space is looking a bit drab consider planting evergreens that will keep your garden looking fresh throughout the year. Evergreens such as cotoneaster horizontalis and pyracantha both produce colourful berries in winter and are perfect for brightening up walls and fences. Pot grown plants can be planted throughout the year as long as the ground isn’t frozen.

Inspiration can always be found in other gardens, particularly the grander ones. Rode Hall in Congleton encourages visitors to take a winter walk around their grounds to delight in the drifts of snowdrops and become intoxicated with the fragrance of their many witch hazels. They offer pots of snowdrops for sale too so you can take a little piece of loveliness home with you, a reminder of a beautiful day.

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Jobs for January

Browse the seed catalogues

Write lists and draw plans for any proposed changes to the garden

Winter prune fruit trees if the weather is mild

Visit Jacqui’s website

For edible gardening visit

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