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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Liz's Log - Planning and Plotting

Planning and Plotting

January Gardening Traditions

(addicted to seed catalogues)


As I huddle-up next to my glowing 'electric' fire, with a blanket wrapped around me, a hot chocolate in my left hand, and six seed catalogues on my lap, I dream.   Last year's glorious summer is all but a distant memory now.  After a very wet spring 2013, we enjoyed perhaps the best summer for years.  So - do I dare hope for last year's weather (that was nevertheless exceptional for England)?  Or do I plan for any eventuality? 

Every January, once Christmas is well and truly over, with the decorations down and the mince pies eaten, I have a tradition - one that goes back thirty two years.  I decide what plants to grow this gardening season.  "Simple' you might say, but as any gardener will tell you, it's far from it.  You see, the thing is, I never learn.  Every year, I spend hours sifting through the seed catalogues, choosing seeds, plugs, plants, bulbs and anything else that takes my fancy, then I order them online.  If this was the sole point of the exercise, then maybe panic and hair-tearing-out wouldn't be an issue as well, but it is. Now, all you plant-lovers out there, back me up on this - we always order too much.   I honestly do not know what goes on in our heads.  Are we so seduced by the beautiful pictures of flowers, vegetables, and fruit that we are totally blinded to the fact 'we do not have the space of a nursery'?  Or is it that, in some subconscious way, we believe we will use up all the seed before the 'sow by' date.  Even this would be acceptable if only we didn't keep buying more seed each year.  Personally, I do have a keen interest in all the 'new varieties' produced each year; not because I want to appear prisoner to any botanical fashions, but because I feel it's important to 'keep up' with new improved strains, variations in colours, hardiness and disease resistance to name a few.  I also like to conduct my own trials, putting old and new varieties against each other, to see their worth.   Oh and did I mention, I go to the garden Centres and Nurseries every week in January too (lot's of bargains to be had).

So, where does that leave me this year?  Well, I have twenty two packets of catalogue seeds left from last year, twenty packets of seed harvested from my own garden, and whatever I order this year.  I started looking through the pages last night, circling plants on my 'wish list'.  I always do this, then narrow it down a bit later.  At the moment I have circled thirteen for the 'possible' category, and sixteen for the 'really want' category, and I am on page forty of the first catalogue.  Something has got to give - any suggestions.