The Potting Bench Diaries – 11th January 2023

This week… has been a real struggle of a week, the endless dark mornings and evenings are really getting to me, if I’m honest. As a gardener, these times are always a struggle but it really does feel extra tough this time. I’ve mentioned this already recently but I’m just desperate for spring to come now, especially now that the earliest of the bulbs are popping their heads through the surface…

The first out the gate are the crocus and daffs, as mentioned last week, but they’re really coming out in their droves now!

Obviously none of them are in flower yet, far too early – but it wont be long at all until they’re everywhere.

Up until last year I wasn’t entirely convinced by daffodils (or Narcissi to give them their ‘proper’ name’) but I think that’s down to the fact that I hadn’t really paid attention to them enough. Its only when you really look into them that you appreciate just how many varieties there are, other than the standard ones we see on roadside and grassy banks. There are lots in our garden this year but I’ll wait until they flower to tell you which ones!

Changing the subject completely now, with a spot of DIY!

This year I’ve got some really huge projects in store, not necessarily in our garden as such – but…elsewhere. You’ll have to keep waiting to hear more about that but one thing I can tell you is that it involves lots and lots of wooden pallets.

Those of you that have been following for a while will know that I absolutely love garden DIY – if I can make something out of nothing, then I’m very happy indeed. You can make so many wonderful things, with very little materials or special skills, some of which I’ll be able to show you soon…perhaps in person….? Who knows!

One of the things I’ve made in the past is a square wooden planter, just from an old pallet and some wood I had left over from a previous project. Since I made this a few years ago, its housed sunflowers, wallflowers, tulips and carrots, of course – not all at the same time!

This year, I’ve got garlic and onions growing in here and its been fantastic for garlic in the past so I’m hoping for a bountiful harvest again this year! If you haven’t grown garlic before then you really are missing a trick – plant it at the right time of year and it requires very little care or attention. And, if you grow enough of it then you can even make a plait of the bulbs and their stems. There’s never been enough of it here to do that but I’ve seen some fantastic examples of it on Instagram!

I mentioned that I’d used this planter for sunflowers in the past, but its actually in the wrong place for sunflowers and the ones I grew in here ended up looking over the fence in to the neighbours garden!

Since then I’ve grown them straight in the ground, but on the other side of the garden. This year I’m opting for a few favourites – such as Russian Giant, but also this gorgeous Vintage Sunflower Mix from Sarah Raven. The majority of our dahlias this year are peach and coral tones, so I’m hoping these (that will sit behind some of the dahlias) will work really well together!

Sunflowers are firm favourites in our house and I’m not sure we could go without them!

Now, if only sunflowers flowered all year round, but sadly they don’t!

However, if you’re looking for flowers for interest all through the months, then look no further than Miranda Janatka‘s fantastic new book ‘A Flower A Day’.

Luckily for you I’ve got a review coming on Friday, to tell you all about what you can expect – before you grab yourself a copy!

I do hope you’ll find some inspiration from my words this week, and that you’ll get plenty of that wonderful winter sun.

See you again soon

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