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New Years Garden Resolutions

By garden designer Andrew Fisher Tomlin. I'm writing this looking out at my garden which is full of plants that have just come back from a garden we designed for the CBI conference. It's a jungle out there - literally. There are six huge Cordylines, a field of evergreens and a meadow of mature Phormiums.

All that and I promised my long-suffering partner that I wouldn't bring plants for other people's gardens into our garden. So that was one new years resolution that I broke, I think, in the third week of last January. Must try harder.

So this year, I'm going into print with my gardening resolutions and maybe I'll be held to more account this time next year. Maybe I can also get you to work on one or two with me as well.

Use less water
I've been pretty good at not watering my garden this year. We had a good summer with just the right amount of rain and sun. That's why everything has shot up this year. You might have been wondering why your trees and evergreens have grown so well this year when flowers have been a bit lacklustre. Well, it's just that the weather suited foliage and growth and that's why there's so much pruning to do this year. In 2006 I'm going to keep this going and make sure that everything I plant gets a well prepared, moisture retaining soil, a good soak when planting and a mulch to keep the moisture in. And I'm going to use plants that don't mind a bit of drought like all those Mediterranean Lavenders and herbs.

Recycle more
My compost bin isn't big enough and I end up taking my garden waste to the dump. I know they'll recycle it but it would save on the petrol if I just composted more. In a London town garden you're best using a rodent proof plastic compost bin, one of those that look like a Dalek. They are easily found at your local DIY store and you can get them over the internet which are made from recycled plastic. It'll save me money because I can use the compost on the garden to enrich the soil.

Take a risk
I've had my mind to change some parts of the garden for some time now. Not big changes but a few ideas I'd like to try out. Last month I fell in love with a £3000 sculpture - that will have to wait a bit and in the meantime I'm going to try out some cheaper ideas. But if you think your garden could do with just a little change, maybe get back some of the focus, overhaul a bed or add some more interest then make plans to have a go. And call me if you need some help with sculpture so I can satisfy my cravings!

Plant more trees
Finally I'm going to try and plant more trees where everyone can enjoy them. We've designed some smashing public spaces over the last year and many will be built in 2006. So I'm going to make sure each has plenty of trees. In a recent report on the most criticised towns the residents of the worst places all fought back by pointing out how many green spaces and trees they had. Green spaces and parks define areas and that's why I'm watching the development of the Olympic site so closely. Did you know that while the Olympics are on the host city's residents get fatter? This is a proven fact so maybe we should start work now on getting the residents out there planting trees and losing some weight!

So that's what I'm going to do in my garden and for the gardens we build. I hope you'll join me and try one of these yourself. Happy New Year!

By Andrew Fisher Tomlin

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