This Year's Gardening Projects

View from our front bedroom window - this morning

Athough I'm not making New Year's Resolutions any more, I still have some projects planned for 2009. I even have a couple of garden related blogging ones to replace last year's Plot Views and Magnetic Poetry regulars.


Last year I ranted a few times both here and on other blogs on how dire our public planting can be, especially roundabouts. In 2009 I hope to bring you a more balanced view, highlighting both good and bad examples. If you have any examples to share, do let me know.

I've seen some great British gardening eccentricty during 2008, so I'll be bringing you the best front gardens plus anything else I can find, to show you just how quirky we can be.


A big mulch of the entire garden using compost from the council's composting scheme, plus digging in lots of sand/gravel to open up the soil a bit. Two years of wetness has allowed the clay to regain the upper hand. I also want to add more gravel to the pathway round the garden as it's got rather tired and trodden down.

The bottom bed is due a makeover owing to its shrubby nature. Much cutting back is envisaged, particularly Clematis 'Francis Rivis', plus the extraction of Berberis, Cotoneaster and Viburnums which are irritating me, overgrown, or just plain not proving their worth.

Expansion of the making our back fence more interesting project, possibly with the addition of some vertical gardening.

Convert the patio strawberry bed to a herb/salad bed. I'm hoping this will enable me to provide a succession of salads over a longer period than I've managed so far.

Final decisions are needed on what to do with the conifers and the lawn area. As NAH is being consulted on these projects, I suspect we'll only get to a decision rather than starting/ completing them!

The lower half of the allotment - Christmas Day 2008


Remove the gooseberries and create an asparagus bed.

Replace the apple arches and cordon supports with something a little stronger and longer lasting.

Reduce the weeds - they gained the upper hand in 2008!

Naturally I'll be showing how all of these progress during 2009, though they're likely to be ad hoc rather than regular events. I could do so much more, but in view of Madame Zelda's warnings re time constraints, I think that's enough for 2009 ;)

What are your gardening plans for this year?


  1. I enjoyed this post, lots of plans for this year - I hope most of them get done. I look forward to your pictures of front gardens. I live in a house with an open plan garden at the front and down one side. Have you noticed that open plan gardens are ignored in this country - never appear in books or magazines or on TV! This was why I started looking to the USA for ideas and found blogs. When it was all grass it was used as an extension to the dog walking field next to us. I now have borders around the outside of my garden and feel better about it but have a lot more work to do before I feel happy with it.

    Best wishes Sylvia

  2. Is that Snow?
    Gardening plans this year - I haven't quite formulated them yet :) but as I have just arranged to have a party for a friend on 20th June - I think build a patio to have the party on would be a good thing.

  3. Hi Sylvia - that's a good point about the lack of information about front gardens. I haven't posted mine that much because I don't want to give away where we are. Quite often on new estates like ours there's a covenant restricting what you can and can't do to the front garden. The idea is that the 'look' when the houses were built is retained. However, in reality what that means is you get a tiny strip of lawn with some tired shrubs around it. We didn't even get the shrubs! But as you can see we did get a very long thin strip of garden to the side of the house. It's also on a slope and tapers to less than a foot wide, so is a bit of a challenge. Also, half of it technically doesn't belong to us, so it was my first piece of guerrilla gardening. Hmm, perhaps I need to post a bit more on our front garden this year and the changes I made to it! :)

    Karen - yes that's snow, just. The most we've had in a couple of years and our first this winter. It tried hard to snow all yesterday afternoon - those miniscule little balls that you can hardly see. Last year we didn't get any snow until April! I've been hanging out the windows taking pictures this morning and couldn't resist adding a shot to today's post! Of course our American and Canadian friends will laugh at my snowy scene when they see it as it's such a piffling amount to what they get over there ;)

  4. I do like the snow scene and I agree with you about the problems of showing front gardens on blogs - sometimes I feel people give too much away.

    My front garden is a lot bigger than yours and on a difficult slope but we are not allowed any walls, fences or hedges - typical 1960-70s (a few have ignored this with low walls). The side which slopes steeply towards the north of the house is more difficult though I could fence this is I wanted but it would look odd as the other houses have their front gardens on this road. I have grown some Euonymus fortunei Emerald Gaiety cuttings and going to put a low hedge along this side.

    Best wishes Sylvia

  5. Hi - back at work now so easy to comment. I have plans for my back and front garden so your post has prompted me to post about these plans - hopefully this week. I have been catching up on my gardening magazine reading - some went back to September and have had some real inspiration especially for the front garden.

  6. Hi VP, you have quite a bit on your plate it seems. I like the idea of all the redos in the allottment, asparagus is a dream of mine, I will be watching and taking notes. As for us, better plans for the food area between the hedges, can it be made more attractive or is it doomed to look dreadful except when cleared for the winter? Hoping for better design in the garden beds with less maintenance, is it possible? Nothing concrete here, projects are ongoing at all times, maybe to finish some of them would be a goal worth chasing!

  7. Snowed here this morning but not as much as you seem to have.

    Great plans for the year. For the roundabouts consider this:

  8. VP .. Reading all your projects inspires me for my own : )
    So much to do and so long to wait .. I think the excitement alone could tire me out waiting for when I can get in the garden and GO !
    We had freezing rain last night and it is treacherous this morning .. this is the part I really hate about our winters .. very scary stuff : (
    Today is a good garden dreaming day !!

  9. Your goals are certainly worthwhile ones, and it's nice to be looking ahead now that the holidays are over, especially as a long, cold winter stretches ahead of us here in Atlantic Canada. :)

  10. oh, yeah--i adore eccentricity! wierd works, too! i look forward to seeing how the gatden likes the improved soil. nothing planned in my household as i am likely to nove in spring. a few container gardens will be the most.

  11. oy! pardon the spelling, please! i am holding a sickie grandchild at the moment.

  12. We currently have asparagus growing in the plastic paper recycling bin! It will stay there till we move to a perm' home.

    Our front garden is all paved except for down the side and the top corner where we have 5 sky rockets, 7 albert golds and a large golden conifer, not sure of the make or model. If you get my meaning.

    This year though the back garden is for it. We dug a large trench in the clay down the side of the garage to allow for run off from the lawn that resembles a pond after heavy rain. and we are going to gravel all of that and the path around the potager in the corner and in front of the deck. Keeping all the grass but the paths are a mess and I dont want concrete

    then like you VP, we are looking at something to cover up the huge expanse of fencing we have, and although it is new and look very nice, it is still that gold-y colour and not too interesting.

    I am also going to germinate as many geraniums as I can this year, as I love them. They make me think I am on holiday. Oh, and do you have any ideas about how to control the grape vines. they have grown huge amounts in the 2 years they have been in the garden and are producing fabulous fruit. But in the Winter it is straggly and just brown. any ideas of what I could put there for interest when the leaves fall off of the vine?

    The word verification for this comment is BILING. Billing, ver apt for January!

  13. It does looks lovely when you are inside looking out. Only the lightest dusting here but I did skate back home after doing some shopping this morning. Your to do list has left me exhausted :) I have not drawn up the garden plans yet but at the allotment I will soon have four new beds that will need filling and planting. I also want to plant some apple trees at the lottie - not strictly allowed but I think that I will get away with dwarf rootstocks. I also want to get my head round successional sowing and harvesting i.e. be more organised than previous years. I am sure that keeping on top of the weeds will be an ongoing project.

    Look forward to seeing examples of pubic planting - would you welcome contributions ?

  14. Dear VP
    Thanks for the comment on my Blog - I'm glad you are enjoying the pictures. This year will be the turn of the garden, so just wait till you see the "messy" pictures of that! If I tell you the postman is currently using an ancient 1950s New World gas cooker as our mail box you may begin to get the picture...
    Good luck with all of your projects - it will be fun to compare notes. I am hoping to have some more time to read other people's blogs this year - and am feeling rather bereft that Garden Monkey has gone - I miss him/her already, don't you?
    Happy Gardening!
    x Elspeth

  15. It looks like you had more snow then I did!
    I'm planning on spending more time plotting in general as well as planting and sowing lots more than I did last year. I'm also going to build a proper compost bin replacing the two current ones.
    Here's hoping that we all have a good gardening year! xx

  16. I'm exhausted just thinking about all your garden plans!
    Mine are: try to catch up on the weeding that was impossible last year because of the wet
    Build some more raised beds for veg along a boring stretch of house
    Finalise planting plan and actually get the plants for an extension we made to a bed in the autumn

    We don't really have a front garden as such, just a narrow border - 2' deep by the courtyard wall and some fencing at the moment still housing blackthorn but its got to go and a beech hedge. We have very deep grass verges up to these features but they aren't ours and we can't do anything to them except mow.

    Re roundabouts, Nottingham is quite good with them. One in particular is under a horrid concrete flyover and they have done wonders with it - Grasses gravel huge stone features and some fab willow sculptures.

  17. After reading your plans for 2009 I think it offered some food for thought.
    I might do some posting on my front garden if I get round to doing the revamp with pinks I have planned in my head.
    Oh and I might have a good look at roundabouts this year rather than drive by. I'll send you pics of anything interesting!
    thanks for sparking new directions it feels very new broomy

  18. You got some ambitious plans for the coming year. That's always a good way to start doing things, rather than just blundering into them. I just had to tell you, you've got more snow that I have here in Chicagoland (excluding the still significant piles around the driveway).

  19. We had snow here too - just what I needed to get myself in the mood for going back to work. Not.
    Still, reading about your plans cheered me up (though I feel very jealous about the asparagus.)
    Hey, Sylvia, are you allowed to have railway sleepers? They're not fences, or hedges, or walls.

  20. VP, I notice the picture of your arches (with apple cordons trained against them?) and the ominous desire to replace with something sturdier... I say ominous as I have just planted two apples to grow as cordons over what appears to be the very same arch! and I intened to carry on with two further such arches to form a tunnel. Before I continue, in your experience do you think I am wasting my time and should throw the towel in and opt for a stronger wooden arch?
    PS- you can check out our embryonic frit arch on my wife's blog:

  21. LOL, I'm glad I'm not the only one with a huge list of things I want to get done! I can't wait to see your results! Kim

  22. VP,

    Plans...I have a few!

    The Garden of Benign Neglect needs work and now that I have the energy none of the nurseries have any of the shrubs I want at affordable prices! I would like some cheese with my whine, please!

    Thank you for asking!


  23. Crumbs - everyone's comments have made me wonder whether I'm taking on too much - let's see what happens shall we? You'll be the first to know!

    Sylvia - sloping towards the house is much more difficult than my away slope. Does Victoria's idea help?

    PG - looking forward to seeing what you've come up with!

    Frances - sounds like you've got plenty to do. As for making veggie beds more attractive, could you adopt some potager style ideas such as herb edging or some obelisks to grow beans or ornamentals up?

    Hermes - thanks for the link, I'm a great fan of guerilla gardening :)

    Joy - definitely a garden dreaming day. More like a garden dreaming month judging by the long range weather forecast. As for what I'm up to - have a look at today's post ;)

    Nancy - sounds like you're joining in the garden dreaming...

    Petoskystone - no problem with the spelling, hope your grandchild's better now. Good luck with the move too - are you going far?

    SOL - you've got lots of plans too! As for your grapevine - it needs pruning now. If you leave it much later the sap bleeds out. That might you to regain control of it :)

    Anna - trees aren't allowed on mine either, but several people like me have cordons or dwarf trees. Going forward the rule is going to be strictly enforced. And yes please, pictures are very welcome! Perhaps I need to write a follow up post.

    Elspeth - my mum had a New World cooker, so I now have a very vivid picture of your postie putting the mail into the gas oven! I'm missing GM terribly.

    Flighty - sounds good, especially the compost bins!

    Maggi - sounds like you've got quite a to do list! And I wouldn't mind a picture of your Nottingham roundabout if you can get hold of one. I've seen just 2 I like so far, Taunton has a fab willow basket one, which is fitting as its so close to the Somerset levels where most of our weaving willow comes from and Poole had a fab boat, pebbles, agapanthus and pampas grass combo. I don't usually go for pampas grass, but it looked just like foamy waves and the agapanthus were absolutely huge and reflected the colour of the sea close by.

    Rhiannon - oooh more pictures, thanks! And I look forward to seeing how you get on with your projects this year :)

    MMD - I can't believe we had more snow than you!

    Victoria - glad I managed to cheer you up. Asparagus might be a bit ambitious as the sites so clayey, but Threadspider and I couldn't resist a massive pot of organic seedlings each for £1.99 last year. So lots of grit and sand are in order. My next door plot holder managed to get a massive 1 tonne of sand delivered to the plot last year, so that's what I have in mind for mine this year.

    Andyg - yes I've seen them already. I'll come on over to yours and tell you more. What you have will last about 2 years.

    Inadvertant farmer - I hope we'll see the results over at yours too? :)

    Gail - I love your naming of the garden of benign neglect!

  24. So you do have snow! My plans for the garden this year are not as ambitious as yours, yet probably more ambitious than I will actually be able to complete. Good luck with accomplishing everything. Thanks, too, for the previous post about your decision not to buy the cottage. I was wondering how that had turned out, but didn't want to ask. Hopefully, the seed has been sown in NAH's mind, and another even better opportunity will come along.

  25. Very brave of you to go public with your plans, VP. I'm trying to get up the courage to follow suit.

  26. VP and Victoria, railway sleepers are a good thought but they are heavy and I don't think I could face trying to move them on the slope. Though they would stop the soil running down the road!

    Thanks for the idea, it has got me thinking! Best wishes Sylvia

  27. Rose - ambitious, perhaps - let's see where reality takes us eh?

    Kate - I'm sure you'll show us the results of your plans at least?

    Sylvia - here's hoping you find a way of letting us know what you do come up with.


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