New Year is already 3 weeks behind us and most of France is now deep in the snow which was sorely missing at Christmas.
January is a quiet month in the garden, and the presence of snow makes it all the more so. We may be confined to sitting in front of a roaring fire, but there’s plenty to think about and to plan for the year ahead.
I have made lists upon lists of seeds and bulbs I’d like to try this year, designed this year’s vegetable garden and had a good think about how I can improve the garden to attract more wildlife, particularly bees and butterflies.
I have limited space in my vegetable garden at present, and this year’s philosophy is to ‘only grow what I regularly eat’. Each year I grow the likes of cabbages and cauliflowers and I hardly use them, so I may as well just buy these when I want them, and instead grow more garlic, onions, broccoli, salad and beans which I use all the time. Potatoes take up a lot of space, and unless you have a large plot, you’ll never grow enough to see you through the winter, so this year I’m only going to grow some salad potatoes, which will see me through the summer season.
But my biggest decision on the vegetable front this year is to give in to my nemesis, the aubergine. I have tried to grow aubergines for years, even before I moved across to France. In my greenhouse in England I got nothing, in my greenhouse here in France I have ended up with duck egg sized aubergines. Given that I only ever use them to make aubergine parmigiano, I admit defeat, aubergines and I are just not meant to be. On the up side, this does mean more room in the greenhouse for tomatoes, chillies, peppers and cucumbers.
I always refer my humble vegetable plot as a vegetable garden and that’s because as well as making it as productive as possible, I include flowers, not only to attract bees and other useful insects but to also make it look pretty. This year there’ll be Sunflowers, Calendula, Delphinium, Nicotiana and whatever else I can squeeze in – I do believe in packing it solid!
The rest of the garden
This year’s motto, ‘I will not give in to wild boar and deer’. Gardening in France is a challenge not only because of the weather but also because of the wildlife. I almost screamed the garden down in November when I saw that my beloved Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’ had been nibbled and then uprooted, with no roots left. So this year I am installing a Jurassic Park style electric fence around my garden! OK, that may be a bit out of my price range and extreme, but basically, I will not give in. I will buy another Hydrangea and protect it as best I can, I will continue to plant flowers, bulbs, and other shrubs, it is MY garden.
As I said, I do want to do all I can for the less destructive wildlife, and next week I’ll share with you my list of plants, flowers and shrubs I intend to plant to help attract more butterflies and bees.
Finally, the New Year has brought a new Jardin Perdu, gone is the somewhat drab image that used to adorn these pages, and voici a lovely cheerful, bright new image, designed by my husband, I hope you all like it.
I’d love to hear your New Year plans for your garden, so please let me know by using the comment box below.