At this early stage of the year, usually on a sunny day, I start to feel the first flutter of anticipation about the gardening year to come. I can’t help feeling that we have missed out on winter this year, primarily as last years was so bad, so I also worry we’ll get a poor spell much later. Due to the unseasonal warmth, some foolish plants are trying to put in an early appearance. Let’s hope they don’t regret their impetuousness – it’s not unknown for frost and snow in April.

The months of inactivity during autumn and winter allow us gardeners time to plan for the year to come. There are so many plants I’m looking forward to in the seasons ahead. The fleshy spiral leaves of Hostas as they shoot out the soil. Allium bulbs with their perfect globes of dense purple starry blooms. The highly scented Hamamelis. Fat Poppy flower heads waiting to burst open with their crinkled petals. The velvety heads of roses in high summer; the drift of tall ornamental grass like Stipa gigantea in the summer breeze. All perfect highs for me and the reasons why I love doing what I do.

Looking out at my own winter garden it takes a bit of vision to see what it will become. The structure is there, the architectural backdrop of shrubs and trees, but even so on a dull day, it can be depressing to look out to a sea of brown and grey – especially as my chickens have been scratching around doing some gardening of their own.

We’ve invested plenty of hard work in our garden over the years, so I know that by summer it will look at its finest. Gardens evolve and there are still areas that need attention, but I have a master plan so it will be done… eventually.

And a plan is the most crucial part of any garden scheme – whether it exists just in your head or as a detailed annotated drawing. It’s so tempting to buy plants on impulse at the garden centre, but planting without planning most often leads to an over-crowded garden lacking in proportion, containing sickly looking plants. A properly designed plan will save you time and money so that eventually, in the depths of another winter, you can feel that same flutter of anticipation about your garden.

This article originally appeared in Village Breeze Magazine, March 2012. © Lush Landscape and Garden Design Ltd 2012.

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