January: An ideal time to consider your garden layout.

Looking out of the window right now, in the midst of a dank, soggy January, it is hard to feel very inspired about one’s outside space.  We’ve been experiencing really thick fog and that is not the sort of weather that one would usually associate with garden planning or dare I say, the lofty art of garden design.  However, I would argue that January is exactly the time when it is worth putting in a bit of effort (albeit of a cerebral nature) into your garden.

Take a moment to absorb the view.  What you are left with at this time of year, in our British climes, is a skeleton outline of the garden to come; trees, twiggy bushes, the odd evergreen, to say nothing of structures such as fences, walls, gazebos, pergolas and patios.  Look closer and you’ll notice delicate corkscrew curls of climbing vines, chocolate mop heads of sedum and hydrangea, the firework burst of an allium and intricate seed heads of poppies and thistles.  There is plenty of drama to be found.

But scale out again to the basic elements on which your view is pegged.  Now is the perfect opportunity to consider what works, what doesn’t and what you’d like to see in an ideal world.  Do not be afraid to embrace the possibility that your garden might be improved by the removal of some components.  Perhaps a tree has grown too large, or a previous occupant of your outside space favoured a look that does not chime with your own taste.  Perhaps the patio is in the wrong place – you can play around with moveable structures such as garden furniture to give you a sense of what might improve the overall harmony of design.

And on those rare bright mornings, of which we always have a few, you will enjoy an intense burst of sunshine through the bare branches.  This unadulterated light source may suggest how best to use the sun in your garden – from planting lounging on the patio or sitting on a well-placed bench.