Thinking Ahead

August brings a lull in my garden. It’s a time for gathering in produce from the allotment and picking cut flowers but there’s a sense that this is it for this year. As I potter my thoughts are already turning to next year. Now is the perfect time to take stock of the garden and allotment whilst they’re at their peak. It’s difficult in the depths of winter to remember what plant is where when all that is left is a soggy clump of brown twigs, so I like to take pictures of what has worked and what hasn’t to jog my memory later on. I have several notebooks with notes scribbled in them of plants which have thrived and those which I won’t be growing again. I’m also noting down the flowers which have been my favourites this year on the cut flower patch. The crab apple, now in full leaf, is casting too much shade on the back of the garden and needs thinning with the crown lifting a little before next spring. I’m going to take some photographs of it so that I can work out which branches need to come out when it comes to pruning time.

Gardens are never finished. Even if you have a small garden and feel you have done as much as you can with it nature has a habit of getting involved. A tree starts to shade out a border or grows too big for its spot so it has to be removed, another plant might die or others may do a little too well. Gardens are constantly changing and evolving, and no two years are ever the same.

This is all part of the joy of gardening. Gardeners are also striving to make the garden better each year. The idea of creating the perfect space may be the unachievable goal we chase but it’s what drives us to keep on going despite the challenges of pests and the vagaries of our weather. Adding plants and removing others, taming and trying new things, this is what gardening is all about.

August is the point to pause to reassess your garden and to start planning for next year. My bulb order is already in. If you have varieties you have set your heart on don’t leave it too late otherwise they’ll be have been snaffled by others quicker off the mark. Late winter is the time most gardeners bury themselves in a stack of seed catalogues but there are hardy perennials and some hardy annuals which you can sow over the coming weeks taking the pressure off valuable growing space next spring. And now is the time to be thinking about your soil and how to look after it over winter. Green manures will help to protect the soil structure particularly if we have a wet winter. Mulching too will act like a blanket protecting the soil from erosion and worms will gradually take the compost down into the soil enriching it for next year. So dig out the camera and notebook and get planning.