Winter dreaming

By: Penny Woodward | July 9, 2014

Patterns with vegetables and flowers
Photo: Ellen Coates

Winter is a good time in the garden. On cold wet days you can contemplate and plan for warm weather to come. Many plants have died back or lost leaves, so it is also possible to see the bones of the garden. This gives you a chance to see if there is anything you want to move, or room for new plants (there’s always room for new plants in my garden, even if I have to pull something out to put it in), or if you want to move a seat or construct a climbing frame. I tend to throw on a coat, wander around the garden, pull out a few weeds, talk to the chooks and consider my next move. The soil is too wet for any serious gardening so I generally then wander back inside to the fire and start making lists of what I want to plant.

As well as serious food gardening,  I like to also have a bit of fun in the garden. I’m not a garden designer. I don’t have the ability to see how plants or colours are going to look together. I like to say I am a plantswoman. I think it makes me sound dignified and knowledgeable, even if I couldn’t design a terrarium garden. I know how to grow plants, but not how to combine them. But I get much pleasure from little things. I love growing cucumbers and peas up my purple painted ladder, the pumpkins looked fabulous growing over the obelisk, I am in constant awe of my dwarf cavendish banana even though the wind has shredded its leaves and I occasionally add to my collection of garden art: birds, a mushroom and even a dung beetle. These nestle in corners of the garden and look beautiful all year round. Recently I needed to find out if it was possible to drill a hole in the bottom of a cup. The answer is yes and the said cup is now in the garden with a clump of corn salad growing in it. These are all things that make me smile.

This year I also want to try making patterns out of my vegies and flowers. You can do this in quite small spaces. The picture above shows a clump of beetroot with different types of miniature marigolds planted in blocks surrounded by rows of onions. It looks great because of the colours, but also the patterns they create. It could be as simple as a cabbage with violas planted in a circle around each one; or as complicated as Diggers’ lovely potager garden or the pinnacle of playfulness, the gardens at the Palace of Versailles. There are so many different ways it can be done. I’d love to know and see what you can come up with. In the meantime I’m having a pleasant time dreaming about what might be possible in my garden, with soup on the stove, the rain pouring down outside and the fire burning warmly.

Related topics

Plants & Vegetables, All Gardens, Garden planning
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