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End-of-season stock taking

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Kevin Smith Kevin Smith | 07:05 UK time, Sunday, 10 October 2010

Before you read the rest of this post I want you to take a quick walk around your garden – don’t worry; I’ll still be here when you get back. If you’re not near your garden, or the weather’s too vile to venture outside, do a virtual tour in your mind.



Okay then (see - I’m still here): what does your garden look like right now? What’s working well? What looks hideous? What’s been a roaring success? Did you spot any miserable failures? Better still, can you remember the high points of the summer? What were you really proud of?

I took a little turn round my garden this morning and, if I’m being totally honest, it looks a state.

Don’t get me wrong, there are pockets of loveliness, but generally it needs a bit of TLC. There are spent tomato plants on the patio, a dahlia that’s in desperate need of staking, leaves littering the pond and a great branch of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ has fallen right across the path. I could go on, but I haven’t really scratched the surface and I’m sure you get the general idea. But you know the most irritating thing about it all? I was in exactly this position last October – I haven’t learnt one thing from my mistakes of 2009.

Now, I’m not going to get all het up about the mistakes I’ve made this year. In fact, I see them as an opportunity to take stock and make a few decisions about things I’ll do differently next year. Monty Don has always said he considers October to be the start of the gardening year, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s certainly good enough for me.

The new regime starts right here which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense. The mistakes and failures are fresh at the moment, staring me in the face. I’ll only forget them after a winter of sitting by the fire, and make them all over again come spring.

So, I here now declare (very publicly so I can’t squirm out of anything) that my 2010 end of year gardening resolutions are as follows:

tomato plant

I will stake plants early in the year to avoid autumn disaster
I will feed my plants throughout the growing season, not just at the beginning when I’m all excited and raring to go
I will repeat sow salad leaves – the second half of the summer was severely lacking in all things homegrown
I will take cuttings from bedding plants to save cash
I will have more barbecues
I will only sow as much seed as I can use
I will not create hanging baskets and go on a three-week holiday

 Right then, now it’s your turn. Remember the walk you just took around you plot? What did you spot that needs to be different next year? Post your end of year resolutions in the comments box for the whole BBC online gardening community to witness. We’ll be checking up on you come autumn 2011.

Kevin Smith is a garden writer, blogger and former Commissioning Editor of BBC Gardeners' World Magazine.


  • Comment number 1.

    Right, so I am most definitely in need of a resolution or ten!

    Having moved a couple of years ago from a first floor Edwardian flat in North London (where we couldn't afford a garden) into a Victorian house with the outside space we have always wanted. The slight problem here is that you have to be careful what you wish for.

    In the two years I have been living 'with garden' I have developed a terrible habit of not actually going outside to do any gardening. Now I realise I am commenting this on a gardening website and I am truly sorry for my crimes against horticulture, but be re-assured I am writing this in order to turn a page! To add insult to injury I live in a beautiful village where my neighbours all take part in 'open gardens' where the rest of the village come around for a nosy peek at the state of your plot. My garden has never been 'open' it is firmly closed!

    In summary I make the following resolutions...

    To venture out into my garden and cut the grass on a regular basis to avoid the bi-monthly wrestling match with the lawn mower

    To weed out things that look like weeds (which may actually be flowers)

    To seek out the time to dedicate to the garden I have always wanted

    To boldly declare my garden open to the public in the next decade (let's not be too adventurous)

    Great blog, inspired me to confess!

  • Comment number 2.

    Between now and next autumn I must give my pond a clear out and come to a decision about some bamboo, keep or remove? Otherwise it is just the usual clutter problem, with too many odd pots of rescued plants that I do not need. On saying that I am very pleased with a pot of a runner-less alpine strawberry that I bartered for with some tomatoes. So there is another job remove any runner-type alpine strawberries to keep the plant true.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Kevin, lovely first blog!

    I will definitely NOT be growing teasels in pots again. They looked ridiculous, and grew so tall the flowers flopped over the wall to the neighbours. I'm sure they looked lovely over there, but all we got was stalk.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is what I like to see. A few resolutions coming out of the woodwork!

    James, from experience, opening your garden to the public is one of the best things you can do so definitely try to join in with the rest of the village next year if you can. My advice would be make LOADS of really stonking cakes to sell and then they probably won't even look at the garden.

    Hereisabee, is the alpine strawberry a specific variety? It sounds interesting!

    Kate, the teasels might look ridiculous, but I bet the birds are starting to love their seedheads now. Am I right?

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Kevin, it doesn't take long to stroll round my tiny plot, but I think my biggest disaster this year was the famous non-flowering cosmos. Good strong plants but not even a glimmer of a flower bud... I even gave seedlings to my neighbours and guerilla'd a few in the neighbourhood - not a single bloom. The only saving grace was that I learned to appreciate the feathery foliage for its texture. I blame a rather elderly seed packet that was lurking in the back of a draw. And I really must move the oversized choisya...

  • Comment number 6.

    Having visited the RHS show at Tatton this summer I vowed to do something creative in the rather bare spots in the garden. It's not technically my garden as I'm living back with Mum at the moment but I've got a few lovely colourful pots which have been empty since I've moved back (with the intention of only staying a couple of weeks). Given the recession it looks like I'll be staying a while longer so have been thinking about making my mark in the garden.
    Feeling inspired by your blog I've finally done it. The wheelbarrow with the broken handle is now planted up and I WILL look after the plants! It looks great just by the shed.
    I also had the misfortune of getting a hole in my lovely spotty wellies last winter so have had to buy a new pair. However, the 'holy' pair are now nestled in the grasses by the water feature with some trailling plants in them which shoud look great when they get a bit bigger. They're a bit of fun and make me smile when I look at them.
    So it seems that my gardening talents don't yet amount to much but don't leave anything around for too long that I could pop a plant into because the likelihood is that I now will!
    Love your Blog Kevin. Hoping to read more very soon!

  • Comment number 7.

    Rachel! It sounds like your creative gardening talents are endless. What a shame we can't post pictures and then everyone could see you wheelbarrow and wellies. Who knows what you'll transform with plants next year!

  • Comment number 8.

    There was a seed packet flashed in front of me, Baron something, so with some googling it must Alpine Strawberry Baron Solemacher (Fragaria Vesca). Makes quite a bushy plant and with tasty strawberries.


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