i have been in your situation and i also strongly recommend sitting back and watching what grows. i wouldn't do anything drastic for a year.
do weeding, pruning, maintaining the grass etc.
think about what you want in the garden, whether you want long views or to be able to wander through without being able to see everything at once.
i second geoff hamilton books.
go visit open gardens for ideas. google online and you'll find a list in your area.
think about colour schemes. work out what type of soil you have. think about the main trees / shrubs and work a design around them.
for the first year while you're thinking about all this stuff, i'd plant tomatoes, beans, strawberries where appropriate and just enjoy having the short-term crop without having to make long-term plant commitments.
re. a climber, i'd work out what aspect the wall is and then look on crocus.co.uk. there you can go to the climber section, select your aspect and it'll give you a list of suitable climbers that you can buy from them.
Wibbly there may well already be something there that is deciduous - holdfire till late April. If you are then still facing a bare wall, nasturtuims will cover it for the season till you get a honeysuckle established (assuming its not North facing)
toxic plants : yup lots BUT teach kids not to put their fingers in their mouths in the garden, teach them to wash hands when they come indoors, teach them NEVER to eat a berry they have not checked with you and little harm will come. This book www.nhbs.com/poisonous_plants_and_fungi_tefno_27512.html is the master reference book and because it includes actual data about how often people come to harm from different plants is actually very reassuring
Thank you both! I have now started perusing the charity stores for those books and jotting down names of the odd plant I see in the paper/magazines that may be suitable.
Thank you canspel that is some great advice. It is indeed a long large lawn that has been split in to 4 seperate areas. I think petrol/cordless is definitely a great idea. We would love to compost, is it fairly easy to start up? The previous owner has lived there for 30 odd years and from what I can tell there have been no children around. Is it likely there are any plants that may be dangerous/poisonous for DC that I will need to look out for or am I being a bit paranoid?
The owner is leaving some lovely trellis at the front of the house. Can anyone recommend a lovely plant that can grow up the trellis but is suitable for a beginner that won't go in to the brick work and cause disaster?
The first year you should take things easy and see what you comes up. Then see if you want to keep it. Spring bulbs will be coming up now but summer bulbs will still be dormant. You can start cutting back any over grown shrubs so you will need some decent loppers and secateurs.
Do you want to compost? if so now is the time to choose where you are going to site it and get it started Do you have a large lawn? if so you will need a lawn mower and edge trimmers. If you have a large lawn then look at a petrol self propeller and cordless edge trimmers. Are you on a water meter? If so then a couple of water butts are a must and even if not on a meter then rain water is much better than tap on your garden.
I am a sucker for a power tool and love things like my garden shredder and leaf blower but you can get by without them. A decent fork is a must and some hand tools for planting will be enough to start you off.
Hello, my DH, DS and I are due to move soon from our top floor flat and never having a garden to, FC, our family home with an incredible 150ft+ garden.
Please could you recommend me some good websites/books that may help a complete pair of novices like us get our head round a bit of gardening? Or any top tips from yourselves at how to reign a rather messy garden back in to shape and make it a little more young DC friendly?
We have only visited on rather dark and damp days but the garden seems to have lots of slightly unruly looking shrubs to the sides that are quite overwhelming and block the view from past the first 50m. Can't spot anything flowering, how long would buried bulbs etc take to spring up? We hate the idea of ripping the flowerbeds up if there are some lovely plants and flowers already established and just waiting to arrive.
Also my DH seems overjoyed at the idea of going to the garden centre and filling his trolley with every shiny pair of secateurs that comes his way. What would you say is really needed and what is phaff that'll collect dust in the shed?