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Poppy

I’ll be relying on annuals such as poppies for a splash of colour next year.

There’s an irony about my last post being about change. The same day I wrote it Wellyman came home from work to say the words redundancy and relocation. It was almost as if I could feel something in the air. There are numerous permutations of potential outcomes, which are all a bit vague at the moment whilst we wait for decisions from above to be made, but it does mean a fairly substantial period of uncertainty is now ahead of us.

There were so many thoughts whirring around my head and of course the garden featured quite prominently. I felt quite selfish thinking about how my plans for border redesigns were disappearing fast and would I get another growing season on my allotment when livelihoods are at stake. The garden and plot are such fundamental parts of my life though. The joy of being in one place has been the ability to put down roots in both senses of the word.

We’ve been here before on several occasions. One year a move was timed for the end of April and I was determined I wouldn’t miss out on a whole growing season so I went ahead and sowed all manner of seeds as if as normal. We ended up driving what was in effect a mobile greenhouse along the M4. Wellyman didn’t bat an eyelid as yet another seed tray was brought out to the car as he waved off the removal lorry. Before we have lived in rented places with a myriad collection of pots that were easy to move; this time we have a garden that has been built up over time with cherished plants growing happily in the soil.

So the question is how do I tackle the feeling of limbo and approach my plans for the garden and allotment in 2014? I’m the sort of person who likes a plan and I’m happier when I can just get on with what is needed. Having to wait around for others to make decisions about our future is frustrating but I’m hoping my own plan, a strategy for the garden, at least will counter any inclination to procrastinate, and the resulting descent into gardening apathy. The idea of garden border redesigns are out. Instead I think I’m going to rely on annuals. They’re cheap, easy to grow and will put on a good show. They won’t provide the long-term structure I was hoping to introduce but then long-term structure isn’t what I’m looking for now.

Baby fatsias I propagated a few years ago.

Baby fatsias I propagated a few years ago.  I gave two away and now have one good-sized plant that can come with us.

A programme of propagation is going to be instigated. (I like the word ‘instigated’ as it gives it all a sense of military precision. The reality will be somewhat different.) Establishing a garden isn’t a cheap process so whilst I don’t want to strip the garden of plants and dig everything up, likewise I don’t want to have to start completely from scratch again. There are also the logistics to think about. Transporting a large number of plants and containers to wherever we end up could be an expensive business. I did hear a story from one of the removals companies where one client had two lorries – one for the furniture, the other for the plants. It might have just been cheaper to buy new plants.

Viola cornuta 'Alba'

Viola cornuta ‘Alba’ – one plant I wouldn’t be without.

What I have learnt over the last few years is the speed at which most plants grow. I did initially get a bit carried away when I first started planting up the garden. It wasn’t long before I was having to divide plants and I realised I could have probably got away with buying a few less plants. So bearing all this in mind I’m going to proceed a little like Noah and build up an ark of my plants in the greenhouse and cold frames; a couple of each of the plants I most want to take with me. Over the coming weeks I’ll scout around the garden for any self-sown perennials and grasses and plant these up. I’ll also have a nosey about for any plants that are sending out suckers and pot up any which look substantial enough to be moved.

November is the perfect time to take hardwood cuttings and I’m taking notes of prime candidates for this type of propagating. It’ll be good practice as I haven’t needed to take hardwood cuttings since I left college. A hardwood cutting is the perfect way to increase shrubs and trees. If I’m quick and thanks to the mild autumn so far, I might also be able to sneak in some semi-ripe cuttings, which are best taken from late summer to mid-autumn. Then, come the spring, I’ll be poised to divide plants as they spring into life.

Hopefully this strategy will give some focus to my gardening plans over winter. If anyone has any tips on moving a garden I would love to hear them.

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