Gardeners in 2023: what are the experts' new year's resolutions?
The new year is a good time for looking back and forward at your garden and gardening practise. We asked a host of our contributors, including gardeners, designers and photographers, what their new year gardening resolution is.
Gardening is an ever-changing process, so often we decide to do new things, or change the way we work on a regular basis. But the new year, when there's time to reflect on the previous year, and the pace of work in the garden eases off, is a great opportunity to think carefully about what to do next.
We asked some of our contributors and people we've featured and worked with over the last year, what their new year gardening resolutions are.
Here's what they said.
Tayshan Hayden Smith
Presenter, activist, and gardener founder of Grow2Know
I don’t usually subscribe to New Year’s resolutions, but in 2023 I intend to continue to grow, develop and drive the positive trajectory of Grow2Know. The impact of our work has reached far and wide, changing lives in some cases. 2023 needs to be a year of change and we’re here to ensure, implement and steer that change. I’m feeling motivated, energised and (maybe naively) optimistic.
Author, gardener and Gardens Illustrated columnist
My 2023 resolution in the garden is to be there a bit more. It's been such a busy year and I've enjoyed stepping back from the garden but it's been pretty low effort in terms of what I put in. We are hopefully going to be landscaping and making some changes, which I'm excited about, and after a few rookie years of experimenting, I'm looking forward to taking a more considered approach - to not only what I grow, but also how I garden. So I think it's going to be a big one. No pressure! But I am looking forward to enjoying the garden more, rather than seeing it as something to do.
Garden designer and presenter, aka The Black Gardener
I think trees are wonderful and I love to give them a big hug whenever the opportunity arises. Apart from sheltering us from the wind, rain and sun they provide us humans with oxygen, meaning we couldn't survive without them.
Trees are at the forefront of our battle against global warming because they drag carbon down from the atmosphere, locking it back into the soil. I can't get enough of these fabulous giant plants and my first New Year's resolution for 2023 is to plant even more of them!
My second New Year resolution for 2023 is to introduce as many house plants into my home that's possible. Makes complete sense to link the inside of the property and outdoors by having some wonderful eye candy for me to get up close and personal with. Let's face it, they are brilliant at relieving stress, helping concentration and improving air quality. What is there not to like about them.
Landscape designer and writer
I’m so excited about 2023 because it’s the third year in our new garden in Yorkshire and all of the plants I’ve been growing on from seed, spore or plug plant are now large enough to spread around, alongside a selection of new small trees and large shrubs. It’s a pivotal year where our new garden will start to show its visual impact thanks to the power of plants. We’re early in our 5-10 year project for climate, wildlife and us; some would require patience to grow like this but the joy for me is in the process.
Gardens Illustrated commissioning content editor
Like many people, I’m thinking about water in my garden – how I can use less of it, and how I can save rainwater in an attractive way. I’ve already got a water butt, but need to do more. I’ve noticed that loads of water drips off the roof of my little greenhouse when it rains, so I’ve put a large galvanised water trough (a birthday present) next to it to capture the run off. In the spring, I’m going to plant a small water lily in it, and I’ll use it as a ‘dipping tank’.
Jason Williams, the Cloud Gardener
Gardener and social media influencer
For better results, next year I am going to focus on what my garden can grow as opposed to growing what I want to grow.
Gardens Illustrated deputy editor
Generally I don’t make resolutions, preferring to keep my challenges on a rolling basis, as and when they need addressing – more of an ongoing to-do list. So, here’s a few items that are currently at the top of my list for 2023.
Staking my plants more effectively. I might even treat myself to attending a natural supports workshop to make sure I actually do get this job done. I don’t mind an element of plant flopping but this year’s drought, followed by a long, mild autumn meant things just kept on growing, resulting in some fairly extreme leanings.
Another is to make much more effective use of mulching – home composted as far as possible rather than buying in. Everything I read about mulching just makes sense as our climate becomes more variable.
And finally, along with many others, I will be deciding on the best choice to replace the box moth-devastated box balls we removed earlier in the year. It could be an opportunity to do something completely different, or do I look to Matt Pottage’s ideas in our recent feature on possible evergreen, clippable alternatives? Here’s to meeting 2023’s ongoing garden challenges.
Gardens Illustrated editorial assistant
To do more with less. I’m going to have fewer pots and fewer plants and try to make those work harder for me so there is less work and watering to do.
I spend most of my working year in the most incredible gardens, both large and small, but 2023 will see our home garden being designed, landscaped and planted. I pick up so many shoot spoils and plants from the wonderful people I visit through my work but often these go into the garden without any real consideration. We moved just over a year ago so we have done the right thing and watched the light throughout the seasons to know where things will be best placed so we feel confident we can now actually move on with putting our plans into action. So outside of shooting all the beautiful gardens I have planned for 2023 , I will be getting my hands dirty in my own garden.
Gardens Illustrated editor
Having let my garden do whatever it wanted and go completely wild for the past two years, this year I shall be checking what has done extremely well (i.e taken over) due to my benign neglect, and what has suffered, died off or been crowded out – to make room for more plants, of course. I am determined to be realistic for once about what will actually grow in my steeply sloping, north-facing, winter-wet, summer-baked Welsh valley garden… that is, until I visit my first plant fair or nursery, when such a sensible resolution will probably go straight out the window, as usual. I am very much looking forward to trying out my new garden shredder, and, as I barely ever mow it anymore anyway, I am toying with the idea of finally getting rid of my lawn in 2023. Which would give me lots of room for more plants.
Landscape and horticultural designer
1. Support more gardens and nurseries and find new and exciting plants (usually only new to me) to use in my schemes!
2. Read all of the books that I have bought all year including: Nature is a Human Right, Eco Gardening, The Mother Tree (someone told me to get this on audio book!) and start a gardening bookclub (so that I actually read all of the books) on thehub.earth.
3. Write a book... (this might be hard as I don’t know what to write about yet but Im working on it).
4. Thinking bigger than just my own projects and gardens and how to create better gardens that fit seamlessly into their surroundings and the world.
5. Create an environment where people want to learn and can ask questions! It is always fine to do this!
6. Manifest more exciting design projects and clients to work with. Focus Humaira, FOCUS!
7. Be grateful for all I have and for what I do. Savour every minute.
8. If all of that fails (and even if it doesn’t), do an art foundation, wear dungarees and make/paint/create things and always have fun! (This might not happen this year but at some point, I will do this.)
Gardens Illustrated digital editor
My focus on 2023 is going to be all about the three Cs. Compost, compost, compost. While I have set up a compost heap in the garden, I haven't been very good at feeding it. Just dumping the odd bit of grass and leaf cuttings when I'm out there. With everyone - including Alice Vincent on these pages and Jane Owen in the Financial Times - talking about the deep joys of composting, my resolution is to properly mulch down my kitchen waste, and carefully layer my heap with cardboard and whatever else I need to. That cyclical process - recycling, reusing etc - is good for so many things and if I can manage to get it happening in my own garden, then everyone's a winner.
When we moved into our house a few years ago, I designed a dry garden mixing topsoil into and over crushed site rubble that was left over from building works. Selecting plants that thrive in these poor conditions, the garden is now well established. My children love the biodiversity of the garden, watching birds over their breakfast and collecting creepy crawlies. I would love them to grow up with an appreciation of nature and of how we must value and respect our environment. In order to get the most out of our relatively modest garden this year my new year’s resolution is to introduce more edibles into the gaps between planting. The wonder of planting a seed that eventually produces something you can eat transcends age!