When I first became a member of the Royal Horticultural Society (many years ago) I visited their garden at Wisley each month for the first year. I wanted to make the membership worthwhile but I also wanted to get to know the garden better; I had visited before with friends but had only seen certain areas so my knowledge of the whole garden was a bit sketchy. I did, and it was brilliant. Various unexpected bonuses were that I learnt which plants went well together, which flowered for a long time (this introduced me to gaura, one of my favourite flowers) and which looked good in winter (grasses, which I’d always regarded as dull). Actually, if I’m honest, I didn’t really succumb to the charms of grasses until a couple of years ago when I filled the front garden with pots of pennisetum, miscanthus and imperator and they created a beautiful airy screen between me and the street.
This year I am going to adopt the same pattern with my garden. Obviously I’m going to visit it more than once a month. I go through the front garden several times a day but I am usually trying to get my bike (old, heavy and a bit unwieldy) into the house so I tend to regard the pots as an obstacle course rather than a display to be looked at properly. The back garden is largely left to look after itself while it is too cold to eat outside. In practice this means all it sees (and I really see of it) are a few bursts of activity between October and April. There is an autumn tidy, which usually takes place in winter, and a few days of bulb planting but otherwise I tend to glance at it through the windows, appreciate that it is there but not really look at the details properly.
All that will change this year; each month I shall post photos of things that are looking good – without cheating and making panic-induced trips to the nearest garden centre to buy something in flower. Not that I’m against a bit of panic buying. Years ago I was being interviewed by a newspaper and they said how nice it would be if we could do the interview in my garden. In February! The panic trip then resulted in hellebores (below) and a witch hazel, which I bunged in a pot, knowing it would outgrow its space in a couple of years. Twelve years later it is still flourishing, has not outgrown the pot and brings me joy each spring. You’ll see it a bit later on.
The more eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I’ve missed the ‘each month’ already. This is because I didn’t think of this idea till the end of January, and then there was the inevitable wait for a sunny day when I was at home. A heavy frost this morning helped, as did an obliging iris, which opened just in time to have its photo taken. I hope, by the end of the month there will be many more.