Blue Daisy Garden Diary - December 23/January 24
Winter Stocktaking by Nicki Jackson
There are any number of reasons why you might want to change your garden: perhaps your family dynamic has changed and it’s no longer fit for purpose; or you have new neighbours and their impact has changed your relationship with your garden, or it may be that you’ve just grown tired of some aspect of it. Whatever your reason winter is a good time to take stock and assess what is working for you and what isn’t, because with many plants having died back and shrubs having lost their leaves you can really get to see the bare bones of your garden.
We’d recommend starting by doing a rough sketch of the garden and marking on it some or all of the following information. It’s not everything you might need and it’s not in any order but it’s enough to help start the thinking process and get a good understanding of your land.
- Aspect – It’s important to know where the sun rises and sets in relation to your garden so do a compass reading and mark that on your sketch. Watch the garden at different times of the day to see how the shade moves around it – are there any areas in constant shade or are always sunny or just get morning sun, etc. Make notes of any trees or buildings in yours and your neighbours garden that cast shade; this is just as important to know as the compass reading.
- Boundaries – which do you own, one or all of them? Or is it a shared ownership? What do the boundaries currently comprise of, is it a hedge, if so what sort of hedge is it, deciduous or evergreen; is it a good shape/do you like it; is it too big or about the right size? Is the boundary a fence or a wall and if so, is it in good repair and do all the boundaries match?
- Elements to be retained – is there anything in the garden you want to keep? A plant that has been passed down the generations or has been given as a gift perhaps? Are there any trees you want to keep, if not why not, be completely sure as once the tree has gone it’s really gone. Do you have a shed or summer house that can’t be moved; or a statue or pond or anything else that needs to stay exactly where it is? Are there any elements that need to stay but can be placed elsewhere?
- Pollution – this might be noise or smoke, or smells for instance. Make a note of the direction it’s coming from.
- Privacy – do you feel overlooked in any part of the garden? Where from? Does it bother you, are you avoiding areas that are too exposed?
- Soil – understanding the pH and make-up of the soil is important and it’s worth doing a test in a few different areas of the garden. Soil testers can be bought in garden centres or online.
- Utilities – do you have any underground pipes, overground cables or manhole covers. Every garden has one or more of these and the newer the house it seems the more manhole covers there are to disguise!
- Water – Watch where the water drains to or runs from during heavy rain, and which part/s of your garden are waterlogged or soggy too. Conversely make a note of dry patches as well.
This really is just the beginning and there’s so much we haven’t touched on, but knowing this information is key to being able to plan your garden effectively. What you do with it now is up to you, you can use it to begin discussions with your family and help you decide what it is you want and where or it can form the basis of a conversation with a garden designer.
© Nicki Jackson, Blue Daisy Gardens 2023