NEWSPAPERS used to be all about being first with the news, but now readers are inundated with instant news on the web, so papers need something extra – and that’s where their columnists come in. Whatever our subject, we offer a personal take which readers may either love or loathe.

I’m very lucky, I love gardening, have a wonderful garden and smallholding and relish the opportunity to share my gardening thoughts and experience. When looking at a topic, I’ll often use my own plants and techniques as illustrations and try to give my readers a taste of life on my smallholding. I want you to enjoy the life and vibrancy of my garden and to see your own garden as equally worth exploring and understanding.

As well as providing second by second news, the web is crammed with step by step instructions on what to do with plants. But every garden is unique, so instructions for a balmy Solway garden would be useless for the Hebrides, Orkney or East Lothian.

This diversity is often largely overlooked. I remember my exasperation 40 years ago when I returned to Scotland from Kent. Every piece of advice I read was designed for gardens in Sussex, not Edinburgh where I then lived.

Based on my experience of talking to people while running community gardening and home composting projects, a demonstration garden and visiting large numbers of groups, I want people to look afresh at their gardens. I want them, you, to understand why plants behave as they do. By observing how and why they’re growing well or badly, you’ll appreciate how to solve a gardening problem, wherever you live in the country.

And there’s nothing unique about us and all our triumphs and tribulations. Gardeners have faced the same issues as us for centuries. So how did they cope? They used very different methods and I’ve often had to admire how they solved their problems. Whenever possible, I illustrate a point with Scottish examples. I mention writers like James Justice and John Reid rather than England’s endlessly-quoted John Gerard. I talk about Orkney gardens and the Edinburgh market, rather than the Home Counties and Covent Garden.

Gardening is a very traditional pastime: what grandpa has been doing on the allotment for 50 years must be right, especially if he learned it at his faither’s knee. A lot of old methods are spot on but the recent horticultural research that I follow can turn some ideas on their head and I do make a point of explaining this. Aye bin ain’t aye right.

Scotland has a long and proud gardening tradition and I hope my column helps you, my readers, to confidently carry it into the 21st century.

Read Dave Allan's tips on summer apple pruning in today's Herald Magazine