I sincerely hope you were all able to enjoy your Christmas and New Year. Maybe you were able to make some positive resolutions for the year ahead. It wouldn’t have been difficult, I’m sure, after all our unfortunate experiences in 2020. Let’s hope some of those you made were garden related, but if not, it’s not too late to consider some!

January is the beginning of the gardening year – a time for fresh starts, renewed energy, and grand plans for the twelve months ahead. That said, it can be really difficult out there, due to the cold and the ground being so hard.


Planning ahead

Why not decide to list all the plants you buy so that you don’t forget what you’ve got! If, like me, you open your garden, it is inevitable that visitors ask what certain plants are and it can be embarrassing if you don’t know. In recent years, I have logged them all down so that I can recall their names if asked. It’s a good idea, even if you don’t open your plot as friends and family may ask! If you rely on plant labels, they can fade or go missing, so why not get yourself a notebook that you can record your purchases throughout the year! It might be an idea to leave a bit of space under each entry so you can write details about the plant as the year goes on. Make sure you record where it is planted too and you’ll be surprised how much of a valuable resource this can become over time!

Caring for your pond.

If you have a pond with fish, then it is important to stop it freezing over at this time of year and keep your fish free from harm. An ideal way to do this is to float a ball in the water, this will help prevent it from totally freezing over and allow oxygen into the water. It is not advisable to smash the ice on the pond, as the shockwaves can damage the fish. If your pond is frozen over, then one way to break the ice is to place a warm pan on the surface, which will gently melt the ice.

Driftwood garden plans

Looking forward, I hope I will be able to open my garden again in 2021. I have committed to 3 dates for the National Garden Scheme in June, July and August but they will not be full public days. I have decided up to 14 visitors can enter on every hour, and entry will be by pre-paid ticket only. All being well we will open for the Macmillan Coastal Garden Trail again at the end of July. Check my garden website for all the details on how to book a visit. The garden will open for private visits too.

Fun Project

A fun idea for your garden this year might be to take a photograph from the same point, on the same date in each of the 12 months of the year! Maybe using several points of interest. This is something I’ve done over the years and it is quite surprising to look back at the collection and actually see the changes, across both the months and the seasons of the year! I’m planning to do the same throughout 2021 with my both my beach garden at the front of the house and the main garden at the back.

Planting Inspiration

A perfect indoor task this month is to look through Spring catalogues and choose some annuals to have delivered. I usually buy most from a local nursery in Eastbourne but also get some online as well. I never set out with a plan of what colours I want to use throughout the garden. As far as the nursery is concerned, I go and look what they have and then buy what I like. Once back in the garden, I decide what looks best where. There is never any grand plan. For the last few years, I have trialled several new plants from a well-known company and reported back on how they have fared in my coastal plot. I expect to be doing the same again this Summer too.

National Garden Scheme

The first 2021 National Garden Scheme gardens begin to open their garden gates next month for the annual snowdrop openings. It really is amazing how many visitors brave the weather each year to go and see them. At time of writing, there will be 2 East Sussex gardens you can book to see. The first is Pembury House, Ditchling Road in Clayton, Hassocks and the second 5 Whitemans Close, Cuckfield near Haywards Heath. Both gardens require you to book in advance, so now would be a good time to check availability at www.ngs.org.uk where you will find all their contact details

A New Look

This is something you can all do quite easily to create a different look in your garden each season. I moved many shrubs planted in the ground last Autumn, but the large, containerised ones, will all start to be relocated over the coming weeks. It is quite amazing how easy it can be to make your plot look a little different each year! I challenge you to give it a go.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk

This column will be in January’s Bournefree magazine.