A new leaf for 2021: Make this the year to spruce up and rejig your outdoor space, writes Nigel Colborn
- British gardening expert Nigel Colborn takes a look ahead to the coming year
- He gives some hints on how to make your garden prettier and more enjoyable
- They include dumping the weeds, fixing the mistakes and taking advice
While we enjoy Boxing Day, let’s cheer for the end of 2020. It was a hard year, but there were hidden blessings. Lockdown gave gardeners more spare time to relax, take stock and develop new ideas.
On a sunny April afternoon I sat outside for an hour staring at the garden. As a result, I planned a few design changes and re‑jigged most of the planting.
By mid-summer, the garden looked prettier than it has for years. What’s more, it was still appealing deep into autumn. Even Mrs C. paid compliments, and she’s my strictest critic.
So, to welcome 2021, here are some hints, partly for making your garden prettier but also to help you enjoy it more.
British gardening expert Nigel Colborn takes a look ahead to the coming year as he gives some hints on how to make your garden both prettier and more enjoyable
Like the old Johnny Mercer song: ‘Accentuate the positive, Eliminate the negative…’ Do that and you’re sure to get better results.
DUMP THE WEEDS
The legendary Christopher Lloyd once told me to stop being sentimental about trees. ‘They’re just plants,’ he said, ‘and any plant in the wrong place is nothing more than weed. Get rid.’
Planting mistakes are easily cured. Remove ailing or mis‑ placed plants and replace them with better substitutes. With design errors, small changes — lowering a hedge or moving a seat — can make a difference.
Expert counsel is always welcome. But opinions from friends and family are also helpful. There’s never shame in not knowing — but no excuse for not wanting to learn.
He said that it is best to plant for the future even though slow-growing trees take years to mature
It’s futile to plant sun-lovers in shade or bog plants in dry borders. Sun or shade, damp or dry, acid or limy — always choose plants suited to where you want them to grow. There’s ample choice for every habitat.
Lawns, hedges, ponds, borders or containers — all create lovely features. For small gardens, you have to scale down, but they can still be rich in features.
GROW MORE PLANTS
An eminent designer once said that plants were unnecessary in a garden. That’s nonsense. A garden is a space where plants grow. What he was describing was an outdoor art installation.
Whether urban or rural, good gardens are wildlife-friendly. If your planting is diverse, with year-round interest, it will attract and support a rich fauna. Birds, butterflies and bees, newts or frogs — such creatures enrich any garden.
PLANT FOR THE FUTURE
Slow-growing trees take years to mature. New hedges look feeble at first. But there are no short-cuts for either, so you just have to wait.
Hundreds of exciting new plant varieties appear each year. Many are short-term gimmicks with novel colours or curious habits — but you never know. So if you see any you fancy, try them. Cherish those that succeed, but dump the failures.
MAKE LIFE EASIER
Skills and abilities change with age. But we can make changes to cope with that. Planting ground cover reduces weeding. Removing rampant climbers helps to avoid using a ladder. Fewer containers means less watering.
LOVE YOUR GARDEN
A loved garden gives a lasting sense of pride and well-being. If you feel for yours as I do mine, you’ll enjoy a happy and fulfilled gardening year. So best wishes for a happy and healthy 2021.