"One of the supreme joys of gardening is sharing it with friends. There's great pleasure to be had discussing your triumphs and your failures, perhaps over the garden fence, and we all pick each other's brains ..."
So said Geoff Hamilton 20 years ago in his Gardeners' World book 'Practical Gardening Course'.
And nothing could be truer today.
As well as meeting garden friends locally, our 'garden fence' has evolved into many social media platforms, and 'picking each other's brains' involves searching and researching particular topics, or people who share specialist knowledge and having some great conversations.
All that said, the core of gardening is getting out there and getting your hands into plants, so for my first blog of this 2014 I am taking a look back over my 2013 posts and highlighting the ones reflecting where I was at over the course of the months.
January, one of my first (and most read) posts of last year, called 'Oh I just can't wait for this month to be over'. It was a reflective piece that highlighted not only where I was at in my gardening life, and my personal life too, to 'appreciate those little things'.
February & 'I detect a whiff of Spring' . Ah yes, planning the year ahead and at the time intending to grow hot coloured annuals as I wasn't having any great expectations of heat for Summer 2013. How happily wrong I was!
March, a sort of no-mans-land month, cold and wet, waiting for some sort of break in the weather to really get the gardening motor running. April saw some weather extremes, from hailstones early in the month to daytime temperatures of 18c and plants coming to life. The gardening year had really begun.
May & June, from fesh plant growth and garden colour all around to lazy hazy sunshine days, brought a very enjoyable trip to the botanic gardens, and, after being inspired by some of my twitter friends who are into succulents, I dipped my toe in the water and put together one of my own bowls. We couldn't have asked for better weather in late Spring & Summer.
July & August, and it's hard to believe, looking out now at the bleak and darker days, that I spent the majority of my spare time outdoors, tending to the garden, harvesting fruit and being generally in plant heaven. Fantastic.
September & October were all about late flower and leaf colour. I was out doing a lot of walking at this point, so really appreciated surrounding countryside. There was also the onion harvest, collecting seeds, and my no-dig broccoli. Ah yes, being inspired.
November was a month for me about tidying up borders, storing plants, collecting wood or burning and generally getting ready for the coming Winter. I also built the arch over the fronts gate, one of a number of infrastructure developments planned.
December, and one word, storm. Still working on the recover of this, so stay tuned.
In doing this post, I have been rereading my posts from last year and it really is with excitement I look to 2014, and what it will bring.
I leave the final words to Geoff, '... the wonderful thing about gardening is that, with a little determination, we can all get there in the end; we can create a work of art right there in our own back yard - with a little unsolicited help from nature, of course'.
Happy gardening for 2014.