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Folks, I have been gardening for 50 years and in full-time horticulture since 1983. If you don’t enjoy gardening this may well be the blog for you, and indeed if you do it’s "fasten seat belt" time. So you don’t enjoy gardening! Well my simple answer to this is - you are doing it wrong! Simple as!
I know this sounds a bit simplistic but I don’t believe that there is anybody out there who doesn’t enjoy working with nature, getting out of the house and listening to the birds, watching butterflies and feeling the breeze. So when people say they hate gardening I know that generally speaking they are caught up with the chores of mundane maintenance. Folk also cry “but it is such hard work”, while they go to the gym to cycle a bike that takes them nowhere and pay dearly for the privilege!
Planting island beds with well-chosen shrubs and a few trees to suit the scale of the space will also reduce the amount of effort needed to maintain the plot.
If your area of grass is too big, and most lawns are, its size can easily be reduced by naturalising bulbs and developing an area of wildflowers and native grasses. These areas will enhance the biodiversity of you plot as well as reduce the amount of maintenance required. Planting island beds with well-chosen shrubs and a few trees to suit the scale of the space will also reduce the amount of effort needed to maintain the plot.
Bulbs are brilliant!
Now that the early bulbs are coming into flower it is a good time to make a note in your garden diary to remind yourself to stock up next autumn. Bulbs are brilliant! Do not restrict yourself to blousy daffodil hybrids. Snakes Head Fritillary, Muscari and Crocus (to name a few) are on sale in the autumn months and are well worth naturalising. Always allow bulbs to die back naturally before trimming or cutting the grass. Make sure to get yourself a garden diary and your first note will be to buy bulbs for naturalising next autumn!!
Some Cool Conifers
We all tend to visit the garden centre in the summer when in fact there are wonderful specimens on display in the dark winter months when our gardens really need some colour. As a result our gardens seem always top-heavy with deciduous trees and shrubs. These look good in the summer but are not so exciting in the drab winter days. It is sad to say that conifers have taken a back seat in recent years - for winter structure and interest they are worth checking out. I have a few favourites: If you want a smaller tree look for Abies koreana (Korean fir) - I love the way it holds its bluish cones erect like candles on its branches. The larger growing Picea pungens ‘Koster’ with its silvery blue leaves is also a favourite of mine.
If big is better for you, a soft needled tree like Pinus wallichiana may fit the bill, a beautiful graceful plant worthy of any garden. This is a soft shy graceful plant, apologetically beautiful - no fake tan needed here! All of these conifers are worthy specimen trees so give them a spot where you can view them from all angles.
Tune in next month when we talk about late winter early spring flowering shrubs - not to be missed! In the meantime spread the word: I share gardening tips and information about my gardening course via Facebook - check it out!