Top tips every beginner gardener should know

1. Waiting a year “to see what turns up” is not always necessary. This is the conventional piece of advice for novice gardeners or people with new gardens. However, if you’re starting with an area that hasn’t been used much, don’t be hesitant to get started.

2. The garden calendar has the power to paralyze you. There are those like myself who think in a wide six-week window around the time when things “should” be done, notwithstanding everyone else who enjoys planting sweet peas on Boxing Day or beginning tomato feeding on June 21. The greatest time to do something is occasionally when you have the time, especially with our increasingly unpredictable seasons.

3. The best technique to begin a planting design will eventually be to simply visit a top-notch garden center and get as much as you can manage or can’t resist. It was fortunate that I was on my way to Beth Chatto’s nursery at the time.

4. Always choose wider beds. However, be sure to leave yourself a path in. Create stepping stones instead if you don’t have enough room for a covert route around the back of a border; I use bricks and tiny paving slabs for mine.

5. In the future, you won’t have to spend as much time trying to stake items because you spent an afternoon installing training wire with steel angles or hooks if you don’t have walls.

6. Keep a record of the lovely kinds that are in bloom in other people’s gardens. The finest kind of shopping list is still one from Instagram.

7. Only purchase plants in multiples of three and five. Although it may seem indulgent, one errant dahlia variety is hideous.

8. Online purchases from specialized nurseries will initially seem intimidating but end up being far more fulfilling than a trip to the garden center. There is never a bad time to make purchases (I ordered my dahlias, all five singular varieties of them, in October). It is always worthwhile to keep an eye out for sales.

9. It’s worth calling to inquire about a replacement if some of these purchases turn out to be something different, but if, unavoidably, they don’t have what you purchased months before, simply take your lucky dip. (By the way, nobody received their pheasant’s eye narcissus this year.)


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