I love the new year. The weather may be lousy and I can’t get out as much as I’d like, but it’s a time for reflection on the past year’s gardening triumphs and disasters as well as planning for the new season.
Successes included my long-stemmed raspberries which produced a superb (and very tasty) crop in their first year (normally you have to wait until the second year from planting).
My chrysanthemum and dahlias trial went well and I’ve found some new varieties I want to grow every year (Dahlia ‘Evelyn’ was especially good). My greenhouse tomatoes were the best ever, I had an amazing crop (mind you, I was at home more so it was easier to feed them with Flower Power three times a week, as the professionals do).
I visited lots of lovely gardens too, many belonging to QVC customers but my favourite garden open to the public was the stunning Chenies Manor in Buckinghamshire (pictured above). Their tulip display was sensational – do go this year if you can.
As for gardening disappointments, the new bedding geraniums I trialled just didn’t provide the impact that the breeders promised so I won’t be growing them again. The new ‘extra tough British outdoors’ basil was poor too (but I see that T&M have launched it anyway) and a ‘light and easy’ compost containing 50% peat produced dreadful results – it was far too coarse a mix for most plants.
I’ll be kicking off 2014 by studying the seed and plant catalogues and placing early orders. I’m creating a new planting area in the front garden and I’ll be planting a multi-stemmed silver birch as the centrepiece (the RHS magazine ‘The Garden’ has a good feature on them this month and I especially like the look of a variety called ‘Grayswood Ghost' which has the whitest stems).
Another project for the year is to grow more flowers to attract (and nourish) butterflies and bees. I’m also planning to experiment with some new varieties of tomatoes, Runner beans and sweet peas.
This year is going to be exciting on QVC too, we’ll be selling our 500,000th pack of Flower Power (around April I think!) and we’re welcoming some new suppliers like Gardening Express. One of the biggest names in the business Unwins, the sister company of Marshalls, will be introducing some of their superb bedding plants too, a range that I’m really looking forward to growing.
Also George Clowes (De jager bulbs) has been working for many months to introduce a range of bedding plants in conjunction with Delamores, one of the country’s biggest wholesale growers whilst Hayloft have told me of some very exciting new bedding plants that they’re introducing to QVC including the exclusive Big and Easy geraniums!
It all starts this weekend and on Monday we’re celebrating with a very special Today’s Special Value offer on my bird food – my premium high energy, no waste seed at an amazing price and it includes a very special new product as a bonus.
What a great start to the new season!