Origin Global recently asked me to contribute my top tips for beginner gardeners – here’s the finished article.
Two years ago, Nadine Pierce and her partner, Sandy, moved from the city to the Pentland Hills in Scotland. It was here that they began learning the ins and outs of gardening from scratch, which Nadine has been documenting on her blog – A Pentland Garden Diary.
Like you, Nadine was a complete beginner when she started transforming her garden, so knows just what it takes to get the successful results you so desire from your gardening project.
1. Think about how you will use the space you have in your garden – Nadine says: “We spent a summer just using the garden to give us ideas of what we would like to do. It takes a long time to establish a garden and can be quite costly, so focusing on just one area at a time can be a lot less daunting.” – Draw up a plan or make a mind map to realise your vision for the garden. You can gradually redesign your garden as suits your time and budget. – Treat transforming your garden as a fun, long-term project with many rewards, rather than a chore. The transformation won’t happen overnight, and it will be work in progress for a while.
2. Think about the seasons and colour to keep your garden thriving all year round – Forward planning and working seasonally with what you plant can make for an attractive, manageable and easy to maintain garden. Seasonal Gardening has some great month-by-month tips on the best plants to go for during each season. – Nadine says: “In my garden, we spent a lot of time planting evergreens so that in winter, even when the leaves have dropped and a lot of plants have died back, it doesn’t look bare. We’ve also planted lots of bulbs so that the garden has colour in the early spring.”
3. Choose what specifically you want to grow in your garden – Nadine recommends the RHS’s book ‘What Plant Where’ as a must-have guide for new gardeners: “This book helps gardeners to choose plants according to position and soil type and should help avoid some costly mistakes.” – Assigning different areas of your garden to different projects will avoid confusion and ensure that each area is suited for purpose. For instance, assigning a separate spot to grow vegetables away from your rockery or flowerbed means you can give special attention to each project individually.
4. Don’t forget to keep weeding – Nadine says: “Do this regularly, especially before the weeds flower. Some can be highly invasive and if left to their own devices can take years to manage properly. In our garden, we’ve put down small pebbles to help keep them back in certain areas.” – Weeding is the no. 1 gardening job that 25s-35s neglect, so remember to give your garden the love and care it deserves.
5. Utilise pots when planting – Nadine says: “Planting bulbs and plants in pots is a quick and easy way to have instant impact. You can then move these around to make them the most pleasing to you. Many fruits, herbs and vegetables can easily be grown in pots, and are an ideal way to start off.” – Utilising pots and planters works well in smaller gardens and yards, or in rented properties when your space and ability to change the garden are restricted. – Check out Jack Shilley’s guides to gardening using window boxes and other planters in the Great Gardening Gap video series for top tips on how to get started.
6. Get clued up on your plants, the easy way – If you’re one of the 75% we surveyed who can’t identify a tulip, there are many easy ways to get yourself clued up with the different kinds of plants out there. The RHS has a great section on their website for identifying plants if you’re having trouble distinguishing your chrysanthemums from your rhododendron. Nadine Pierce lives in the Scottish Borders with her partner, dog, two cats and three chickens, and is enjoying her new found love of gardening. The experimental nature of gardening with all its successes and failures has been highly educational as well as a constant delight.
Tweet us at @originbifolds to let us know how you’re progressing. Don’t forget you can still tweet us your gardening questions at @originbifolds and using #AskOriginJack. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.