Even though Hogmanay was cancelled, the New Year has dawned and with a sharper mind than usual I wonder what lies ahead in the garden.

Undoubtedly, the weather rules the roost and we have come to expect anything lately.

The Met Office has predicted a slightly lower global temperature for 2021 than in the last few years because of the cooling effect of La Nina. But it is still 1C higher than the 1850-1900 average. In any case, local fluctuations caused by climate change still make predictions for Scotland virtually impossible.

So how do we plan the year? Most of our plants usually cope with everything and just get on with it.

But temperature, rainfall and gales could shatter our best laid plans. And day length and the strength of the sun always lurk in the background.

There’s precious little we can do to protect our plants against scorching heatwaves apart from constant watering and a permanently shaded garden.

But with limited sunshine here, we put our plants in the firing line by choosing the sunniest spots

for them.

It’s frustrating that the spring and early summer are dry just when everything needs a good soak, and soggy in the late summer and autumn when

our produce needs the sun

for ripening.

Whatever the weather, we can give ourselves a decent chance by choosing the best time for planting. And this varies throughout the country so if you are new to gardening, try finding out from other gardeners.

Basically, the further north you live, the later in the spring you sow or plant outdoors. The soil must lose its winter chill and be warmer than 5C to give most seed a chance. So early April is a busy time for me in the Borders, sowing varieties such as carrots and kale. You may need to wait another fortnight in the north.

When to plant tatties is a hotly contested issue. After moving

to the Borders many years ago,

I was assured April 18 was the date. But climate change is altering all this.

Over the last few years, I’ve chanced my arm by planting a week earlier and am now audaciously advancing this to April 7. But it is risky. I must anxiously watch the forecast: one slip and I’ll face a line of brown, frosted growing tips.

Erratic frosts do just as much damage at the end of the season. In the early years, my runner beans and courgettes might be

shrivelled by frost in mid-September but they could now be producing fruits in November.

Warmer summers let more of us start growing tomatoes, cucumbers and possibly sweetcorn outdoors. But I’ll still have to keep them in the tunnel until the temperature rises a bit more.

Climate change cannot affect the sun’s strength and length of the day. Sussex enjoys 49 more minutes of daylight than I am today, and I’m beating gardeners in Inverness by 29 minutes.

Even if our summer days are longer than in the south, the sun there is higher in the sky and therefore stronger and southern plants can grow to maturity over

a longer period.

With less growing time some of my “late maturing” varieties, such as sprouts, can’t complete their growing cycle and reach their

full potential.

We should also plan to protect some vulnerable specimens against fiercer and unseasonal gales.

This is especially critical in flower beds. How easy is it to forget to stake the delphiniums in time and struggle to prop them up when it’s too late and these glorious flowering spikes start collapsing in storms?

And what about majestic irises and the new growth on climbing roses? The list is endless.