January can be a peculiar month for a gardener as you can find yourself staring out into your garden thinking that there is nothing to do, particularly with the weather being so unpredictable. Maintenance is never a particularly exciting part of gardening but it does need to be done and the results can be very satisfying. Make the most of having an emptier garden to get into the back of plant beds and repair or replace fence panels.
Whilst you’re waiting for the weather to warm up you can also take time out to plan and prepare for the start of a new gardening year. Quiet, dull days can be utilised to sit back and properly appraise your garden’s design and plan any required improvements. Even the most established gardens will have odd areas that have become a little less impressive over time. You may have noticed that a certain plant bed lacks in interest during a particular season or that a colour combination you tried previously didn’t really work. Growing your own vegetables has become extremely popular and now is a good time to decide which fruit and veg you fancy this year and ensuring you have the space in which to put them. Even the smallest space can be adapted by improving the soil or clearing some space. If you have a heated greenhouse or conservatory you can even grow your own from seed, although this requires patience! The novice gardener may prefer to buy pre-grown seedlings later in the season for a more guaranteed result.
Whether you have a blank canvas or established garden adding new elements or completely re-designing it can be extremely daunting. Inspiration can always be found in gardening books, magazines and online. You can also visit open gardens like the RHS Hyde Hall and Beth Chatto, or copy ideas from your friends and family. Everyone borrows ideas from other gardens but it is important to choose something that will work in the space you have available, and to suit your garden’s soil and situation. Glamorous planting schemes from show gardens can look stunning but they wouldn’t necessarily have been designed to have the wow factor throughout the year. Instead of trying to copy a design completely, choose some of your favourite planting combinations and adapt the ideas to suit your own garden.
If you wish to completely revamp your garden it can sometimes be extremely worth while to bring in a professional garden designer to provide a fresh opinion. You may want to rip everything out and start again but this can be incredibly expensive. A designer can find ways of keeping some of the more mature specimens in your garden to maintain focal points and present you with a complete planting plan for you to follow. This can be particularly worthwhile if you have little experience or knowledge of plants.