As we're all told, patience is a virtue, and gardeners know there are very many occasions in gardening when it’s needed.

Having patience is more than simply waiting for time to pass. It’s about watching and thinking. It’s about paying attention and also just letting time roll by.

Patience is the thing that garden centres don’t sell.

You’ve moved into a new house and can’t wait to do the garden!

Hold on! This is probably one of the biggest occasions when patience is needed. Unless your new garden is bare soil, wait it out over a twelve month period. As the seasons come and go, different faces of your new garden will be revealed to you: perhaps the bulbs under the hedge or the flowering shrub, the gorgeous rose or the beautifully coloured autumn leaves.

Shrub rose 'Charmian'. hybrid tea. Patience

Shrub rose 'Charmian'. © T.Kiya and reused under

See what treasures the new garden holds and ponder how you can incorporate them into your plan. Take pictures and take notes to remind yourself of what the garden already has when you're deciding what to do.

There is an exception. Before the twelve months are up you could start any big work to be done - like cutting new beds from brambles and lawn. Keeping busy like this might help you keep patient.

Stand back for a bit if you’re doing big work

How easy it is when doing big work to keep on going and keep on cutting until – whoops! – you’ve gone too far. Stop! Have a pause, stand back and have a coffee. Take time to really look at what you’re doing before you battle on. (Your back will probably thank you too!)

A plant will grow in the right place

Plant the right plant in the right place – somewhere where it has elbow room, and somewhere where the soil, the shelter and the sunshine are right. If you take care of plants like this they will usually grow for you. It can take patience to find the right plants for your garden – that’s part of the fascination of gardening.

scented plants. Patience

Plants with scented leaves are ideal along paths or near gates or doors. Here lavender at Rousham Gardens makes a stunning and scented entrance. Sarah Buchanan.

Give your plants some elbow room

Take time to read the plant label. Check how much space your plant will need when it’s all grown-up and mature and compare it with how much space you’ve actually got. You may only need one plant instead of the three you were thinking of buying. You’ll save money and you won’t be fighting the plants in a few years’ time.

Patience - plants take time to grow

You can have an ‘instant garden’ if you buy huge plants but they are hard to settle in and they are more likely to die. It’s usually better to choose smaller plants, and to let them find their feet in your garden’s own microclimate and grow in their own sweet time. What’s more, it seems to me that instant gardens generally don’t seem to have the same magical qualities as a garden where patience and time have been allowed to do their work.

I leave you with words from Hal Borland, an American journalist and naturalist.

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.

Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.