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Ready, Set, Go!


Here we are! It’s the start of another new and exciting growing season in the Northern Hemisphere. I recently dug through hard core inside my greenhouse to plant a Muscat Bleu grape vine in the soil. It’s something I have never grown in my 33 years of gardening. I’m also going to be 60 this Spring, so that is something of a milestone. It has really focused my mind on ageing well and I am going to be much more mindful of what my body is saying to me from now on, especially in the garden. I will be gardening more slowly, trying not to stay working in the same position for very long but moving about, stretching, taking more tea breaks and swapping jobs every few minutes. I reckon that’s what is needed to continue my favourite work for another 20 years!

As you know, this year I started a new Courtyard garden in Dorset. I have been amazed at how much faster everything grows in the South. It is almost exactly 500miles from my Scottish home to my English one. So that’s a big difference in growing conditions. But the soil is very similar…acidic clay in both areas. My courtyard garden is currently all in plastic pots though, so I use an automatic watering system to keep everything alive when I’m not there. It’s tiny…only about 3 x4m (rough guess), and almost always in shade because of the walls. But it’s a precious outdoor space for me when I’m resident and I am very lucky to have it.

Living in two places means I had to simplify my Scottish garden. The pots are almost all empty. The potted trees and shrubs have all been re-homed or planted in the ground. So this summer I will really have to re-grout the patio as it’s on full show now! I removed most of my lovely roses because I couldn’t be there to feed, water and deadhead them. Not only that, but the blackspot is so depressing and I just don’t want to spray them any more. I still have some really beautiful roses and hopefully I’ll be able to manage them.

I also simplified the back garden. I removed the Lilac tree, the wooden Bird table (no bird feeding any more as I can’t promise to be here to refill), large Escallonia Iveyi, a couple of my Amelanchier (growing too near the hedge) and some other things that weren’t doing well. Out came the rose arch and the climbing Iceberg Rose as well. It sounds dreadful…but actually it looks great..,really bright and open.

Last year brought so many big changes for us. In February we took possession of the flat in Shaftesbury and spent weeks redecorating and furnishing while taking care of Rachel in her late pregnancy. She had an awful time as she developed PUPPP rash and her legs swelled up with a very itchy and purple rash which we knew would last until after baby was born. Then came the birth of our first Grandchild in April, just 2 weeks after our only Son had Emigrated to Calgary, Canada. After that we had a summer, autumn and winter of toing and froing from Angus to Dorset and getting used to all that had just happened. It was a whirlwind and at times traumatic, at times desperately sad, and hugely joyful at others.

This year we will both visit Callum individually. I’ve never been to Canada, so it’s a big year again! Willow the Labrador continues in relatively good health but cannot go in Kennels because of her Spondylitis, so that’s why we can’t go to Canada together. When you take on a Puppy, you never know what challenges they will bring. Willow has had spine issues that we could never have anticipated, but she is a great dog nonetheless.

Anyway, enough of my tales. I really wanted to ask about YOUR new projects for 2023. What will you be looking forward to? What new gardening projects have you planned? Wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW SNOWDROP SEASON and a great growing year!

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wow what a year you have had Karen. No wonder you wish to simplify the gardening process. 60 is a great age, wisdom and the excuse [not that we need them] to take things at a more leisurely pace.

My main gardening plan is to get on top of and stay on top off the weeding. Snag there is if its nice weather hubby & I go out on one of the motorbikes.

I have started the clear up and need to get it sorted by mid April as our youngest Victoria, gets married from home at the end of April. I am focussing on the front garden but hope to get out to the back one too.

Thankfully when Elizabeth got married it was from the venue in Halifax so the garden didn't need anything drastic doing.

I'd like more height in the garden, it is very flat and hubby is reluctant to allow me more beds. haha claims the grass is bad enough to cut with out having to go round extra beds.

1 Feb, 2023


It sounds like you have had a full-on year, Karen, so I hope this year will allow you to take breath! It seems a sensible policy to cut down on the number of plants you have to deal with when you have so many other important calls on your time. Your garden will still look wonderful, I'm sure.

My plans? Well, I have to think (like a lot of people) how to repair the ravavges of drought then rain then ice then rain (then moles). I'm not sure what has survived yet. The hebes have gone, I know - but not much of a loss there. Except to concrete the lot I don't have many ideas!

1 Feb, 2023


Karen, I was so sad to read you have removed many of your lovely Roses, the 'Perennial Blue' cutting you kindly gifted me still grows well!

Our rose arch blew down in a gale force wind and I have yet to find two matching obelisks to put either side of the stepping stones. I have 'Iceberg' too, just need to give it some kind of support.

I have a milestone birthday too this year, 70 years young, and have acknowledged that I must take things easier since my heart procedure last April. It was difficult at first to sit awhile in the garden and not jump up to pull out a weed, or deadhead a spent bloom, but gradually I have got accustomed to it!

Michael and I went to Nymans Gardens this morning and saw Snowdrops, Crocus, Camellias, Cyclamens which were all beautiful and heart warming to see.

1 Feb, 2023


WOW, what was a busy year Karen. Seems like it is settling down now. I am wishing you all the best in 2023. Managing 2 places is not a easy task but I did like the change when we wintered in Mexico although it was always a busy (panic) and stressful time on both ends of our stays. Covid19 ended that routine and now we have settled our lives on V. Island and do not plan to travel south anymore.
You are much younger than me so enjoy the changes while you can.

1 Feb, 2023


Thanks SBG…how about a few Standards for height. Photinia, rose, ceanothus etc. A wedding from home…lovely! Although I’m glad I didn’t have to cope with that. :)

Thanks Ange…step away from the Concrete mixer! :)

Shirley, I’m so glad you are feeling better after your heart issues. :) Nymans sounds lovely. I love a good winter garden.

Klahanie, thank you. I’m following an amazing garden in BC on Instagram. You have a great climate there. So much milder than the rest of Canada…and hummingbirds too! It’s a strange thing…I feel unsettled by all the travelling up and down the UK, but so so privileged to be able to do it. :)

1 Feb, 2023


Hi Karen, what a lovely blog, I already know how hectic your lives have been in the last year, your granddaughter is gorgeous and I'm loving watching her grow, I'm pleased you are able to spend so much time in Dorset, I've often wondered about your beautiful garden and wondered how you coped with being away for so long, all those changes do sound sad in some ways but I can fully understand, you love it too much to allow it to be neglected so those changes were neccessary, I have no doubt whatsoever that your little courtyard in Dorset will be an abundance of plants and colour...
I'm sorry you cannot go to Canada together but it will still be exciting for both of you, I knew Willow had a few problems but didn't realise it was as bad as that, I wouldn't want to leave her with strangers either if she was mine, its right what you said, they become family and are ours for life no matter what problems they might have later on..
I too am slowing down, mind you I'm way in front of you as regards age, apart from caring for what I already have, only one plan in mind, that is to change the rose garden, that won't happen until after all the bulbs and spring flowers have finished, I didn't grow any salad crops last year, good decision in the end because of the drought and extensive heat, haven't made my mind up yet whether to grow them or not this year, I might just close the g'house down again for the summer, similar reason as you just not as drastic, since hubby retired completely we like to go away most weekends and don't like having to ask people around to do the watering......

2 Feb, 2023


Aw, thanks LL! Lovely message. I hope you have some wonderful weekends away!

2 Feb, 2023

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