You know the saying 'a change is as good as a rest'.
So, as I've been passing through the garden gates recently, particularly with the little extra brightness we're getting at the evenings, I've been cooking up some of my 2016 plans:
Reorganise my vegetable and fruit production area. I have a vision for what the veg area will look like, however, with poor soil and limited budget for the area, I'm going to reduce the area to a more manageable size, focusing in on just a couple of larger crops and growing items of interest in some of my bigger tubs.
The rhubarb provided nicely last year, as did the black currents. I am happy with my other fruit, there are about four nice loganberry plants, a good bunch of raspberry plants, one nice gooseberry and the grape vine too. I'd love to cover this area with netting, although I'm not sure how practical this is. I'm going to lift the strawberries and create something different with them, probably in the greenhouse.
Further down the garden, I have a big area of summer raspberries, that really don't work. They've been over run with scutch grass and are hard to maintain. So it makes sense to lift the best of these canes, replant them in the smaller reorganised veg patch, and mow in the rest. As for the blackberry patch, that is more than wild, I think I'll eliminate them too as they're wild and unruly, and there are plenty of more of them growing in the hedgerows nearby.
In my main back garden, I'd love to redesign it, have a large circular area of grass, a series of three rose arches and include a water feature, with raised beds of Cotswold stone, all tied together with lovely cream gravel.
The reality is though, not only would we have to get permission from the landlord, it would take substantial investment, and when we move, we won't be able to take it with us. For 2016, what I would like to do is to get creative in the space I do have, with materials that are there, and create a colourful interesting area of interest.
This brings me on to my collection of pots and containers. Honestly, even with the amount of colour and interest they brought last year, I think it will be more useful to be cleverer about what I want in 2016.
Let me give you an example.
In 2015 I had my Dahlias in pots. They were fine, although they ran out of steam at the end of the year. In 2016, I used crates to grow batches of Dahlia plants together, and the effects were unbelievable better, with solid blocks of colour making quite an impact. If I take this example and apply it to some of my other groupings of plants, such as my best Hostas and Hemerocallis, I think there would be an immense improvement in their impact. Similarly for my Fuchsia's, it might be useful to cut back on the range of varieties and concentrate on growing blocks of ones that give the best colour and interest. Hmmm ... not quite sure, I do like having a range and mix ...
And finally, my flowering containers at my front and back doors, I suspect there will be little change. Once we get to mid spring I'll be busy sowing and growing annuals (as well as purchasing some of the super container plants) in order to create a colour theme for 2016. Can't wait for this!
In the meantime, I'll continue to do some armchair gardening, as time allows, and once we hit mid-February onwards, I'm going to try and ensure there is gardening time build into my busy weeks.
Let's dream on ... happy gardening.