How to plan How ow to plan for a perf fo per pe for a per erf rfe fect plot in 20 lot i 2 t plo lot ot in 2016; From improving soil and caring for tools ordering the best bulbs and creating bo new borders, make your plans for 2016.
SO, IS it really worth making New Year's resolutions? I've usually broken mine within the first week, especially when they involve food or strenuous exercise.
Mind you, if I manage to keep all my gardening resolutions, it shouldn't matter too much if I do occasionally eat a piece of cake and the exercise quota might just get taken care of too.
First priority in any garden is the soil. So I resolve this year to do everything possible to improve its quality.
This doesn't necessitate loads of digging - in fact quite the opposite.
Digging actually destroys the structure of the soil because it cuts through and breaks up the complex goings-on between micro-organisms that make our soil come alive.
Other important characters in the health of the soil are earthworms. Charles Darwin called earthworms nature's ploughs. They incorporate organic matter into the soil so it can be used by plants.
We'll mulch as soon as each bed has been cleared. In some places, especially in the shady "woodland" areas, we'll use compost and leaf mould.
On the open sunny side, our supply of old muck will be the mulch of choice and we'll pile it on quite thickly. It's astonishing that, after a few months, before most of the bulbs are through and while herbaceous perennials and shrubs are still sleeping, most of that mulch will disappear.
And it is thanks to the action of worms and micro-organisms.
But what about the main course - the plants? My resolutions here are manifold. Firstly, when we've bought plants or divided our own, they have to go in the soil promptly.
Plants were never meant to grow in pots and it's cruel to keep them there any longer than necessary.
After a certain stage, plants in pots will begin to deteriorate.
They will have used up all the nutrients in the limited supply of compost any pot can contain so they need to escape and get their roots into the soil.
Planting has to be one of gardening's many joys - and possibly my favourite activity.
To push down the garden path a barrow full of plants and arrange them while thinking about what they will become and how they will associate with each other - and then finally to put them into the moist earth, having prepared it and enriched it with compost - that is a delight.
And even more so if you have grown them yourself.
As the months progress and you revisit the site, looking at the progress plants have made and the exciting pictures that are beginning to emerge, you feel that informs real gardening, the sense of the cycle of the year and the part you can play in it in your garden.
Into the end of one of my borders will go Geum "Princes Juliana", Iris pseudacorus "Variegata", Achillea "Fanal" and Rheum palmatum "Ace of Hearts" to join some of the other hot-coloured flowers already in the border.
There are red oriental poppies and more Rudbeckia x fulgida deamii.
This will be a mirror image of a planting we did a few years ago in the other end of our hot border.
I also resolve to think schemes through and then to plant them promptly.
I'll try to look after my tools better - especially my secateurs - and keep them sharp and never to leave them out all night.
I resolve to go through my seeds and to chuck out anything older than last year's. And I'll order bulbs in good time - everything from lilies to garlic!
Some of the bulbs you plant in the spring bring the garden back to life at the end of the summer. I want some superbly pink rhubarb - perhaps I should have put it on my Christmas list but instead it will become one of my New Year resolutions.
That's the thing about resolutions, you can carry on making them all year long.
my favourite Kicking off spring with the hot choice of shrub branches glows apricot, orange and red as though it was lit from within.
I WAS lucky enough to visit Frank P Matthews, a wonderful fruit and ornamental tree nursery in Worce stershire that produces a high percentage of its own stock.
It is a form of our native dogwood so is easy to grow. Much use of it has been made in municipal gardens but it is an ace plant for a small garden where you need big impact in the earliest part of the year.
One small shrub, Cornus "Midwinter Fire", was particularly eye-catching. It has dense, twiggy growth but each of its little Light up Cornus 'Midwinter Fire' ask Carol Tidy... Wisteria QMY QEACH DAUGHTER'S new garden has an overgrown wisteria. How can I tidy it up so I can d train it back to the fence? winter I bring in the pot plants from my front porch to avoid killing them but they seem to dry out in the central heating. Should I leave them where they are? -S Godfrey, by email - Alice Porter, by email AWISTERIAS should be pruned twice, once in summer, once in winter.
APRESUMING You'll need to be drastic and employ sharp loppers.
you mean tender houseplants, it's got to be better to bring them in and keep them frost free.
Take all the lon T g gangly growth back to a couple of buds from the main stem. If stems are competing, select one main one and lose the rest.Repeat when it has finished flowering or if it doesn't, in July.
You could always sink their pots into bigger ones and pack them round with compost, which you keep damp to create a microclimate
Red alert... Tall, proud stem of Papaver orientale 'Goliath' at Glebe Cottage
Hot border... Lighting up the garden with Rudbeckia x fulgida deamii
Vision... Carol planting out Achillea 'Fanal', Iris pseudacorus and rheum PICTURES: Jonathan Buckley