If your New Year’s resolution is to “Keep Growing” in any way other than wider, then make this the year you embrace new plants, new garden design ideas and new ideas both indoors and out.
Traveling to distant new locations either by book, plane or remotely on a screen is a favorite way to become inspired to try new ideas.
This year I will be guiding a group to one of my favorite places for garden inspiration. The gardens of Scotland and Ireland will be on our itinerary as we host “Exploring the Gardens and History of Scotland and Ireland” Sept. 16 to 27, 2023. You are invited to join us on this very British adventure.
It is not just the private and huge estate gardens we will visit, but also the culture and history of Great Britain that makes returning to this part of the world so inspiring. We will take in the Titanic exhibit and St. Andrews golf course, as well as enjoy high tea on the royal yacht Britannica and cocktails in a church crypt.
Here are the top 10 ideas from Scotland and Ireland to add to your New Year’s resolution list:
1. Garden despite the rain. The British wear “Wellies,” or rainboots, don hats and then keep calm and carry on so they can garden all year. (This explains why the women of Great Britain have such lovely complexions. Moist air is a wrinkle reducer.)
2. Add structure to your garden with neatly clipped evergreens. The British use boxwood hedges as frames for beds and borders, but here in Western Washington an evergreen hedge of Euonymus fortunei or Pyramidalis arborvitae can give the same effect with much less pruning.
3. Plant more roses. The popular David Austin Roses were developed in England to have the fragrance and vigor of an old-fashioned rose with the repeat blooming habit of a modern hybrid tea. Local nurseries start offering David Austin roses in January for bare-root winter planting. Buy them.
4. Don’t forget the sweet peas. The frilly and fragrant sweet pea is a classic English garden plant and does very well in cool summer climates. This means the weather of Ireland, Scotland and Western Washington will grow the best sweet peas in the world. Buy the seeds now to plant in early spring.
5. Cover it with clematis. Got an ugly shed, chain link fence or thatched cottage needing some color? Clematis come in many colors and sizes, and this flowering vine grows best in cool summer climates like the one we share with Britain.
6. Study seed catalogs, garden magazines, books and local gardeners on social media. All over Britain a cup of tea and a seed catalog are considered the perfect winter pairing. Make winter the season to dream and scheme a better garden.
7. Invest in garden art. The classic English bird bath or sun dial is a focal point you cannot kill. Here in the PNW, we have artists that create in glass, wood and metal, and excellent local nurseries that sell their art all winter long.
8. Plan to attend the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. It will be held at the Seattle Convention Center during Valentine’s week, Feb. 15-19. To order early bird tickets and get a discount, go to www.gardenshow.com. This is our version of the much loved Chelsea Garden show.
9. Create a bench with a view. Use this winter to think about where you would have a lovely garden view. Now go find a bench to build a garden around.
10. Take time for tea. A break in the afternoon for a soothing cuppa is not just good for the mind, but tea can be a healthy drink that contributes to a long life. Just consider the long reign of those tea-loving, garden-making royals. Winter and tea is a match made for garden inspiration.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.