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Gardening - love it! - but am clueless! Inspiration and encouragement needed

(7 Posts)
MyAngels Tue 08-Jan-13 11:12:37


12 months ago we moved into 200 year old cottage by the sea, with large garden lovingly tended by previous elderly lady owner, but it got on top of her (hence the reason for her moving) and now its my responsibility.

It is a fab garden (cottage garden filled with traditional plants, apple/pear/plum tree, lovely wisteria - I could go on) - I love it, but I know diddly squat about gardening and am overwhelmed by love and cluelessness in equal measure.

She had let it get awfully overgrown, and I have to admit that over the last year my gardening technique has involved LOTS of lopping. She did leave me a map of the garden with the majority of the plants named so I'm not in the dark completely, but of course, the names meant nothing, never mind how to prune and look after them.

I bought some gardening books and started reseraching the plants, so am gradually learning, but as my second year in the house looms I'm wondering how I'm going to cope with it (I work PT every morning and have 2 DC aged 5 and 3).

The back garden is around 12m wide by 25m long - slopes (is terraced in places) and faces north. There's not much lawn, mostly shrubs and lots of herbaceous perennials. A small front garden faces south.

What do you experts recommend ?
- Start in one area and concentrate on that? Leave the rest?
- Tinker around all of it?
- Was thinking of a small area for veg, currently a "wildlife garden" ie weeds. Leave that for now?

I thought about joining the local Horticultural Society, but wonder if they are going all be in thier 70s and experts who will mock me (or worse, know the previous owner of my house and tell her what damage I am doing!). I have listened to Gardener's Question Time and the people asking questions on that sound a bit intimidating to me!

Sorry for going on - I picture myself in garden heaven, but the reality is overwhelming..

Thanks for any inspiration or encouragement..I need it

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Tue 08-Jan-13 13:04:29

Do join the local horticultural society. You may, ahem, find it's full of MNers as well as retired people who do, admittedly, have more time for gardening!

It sounds as if you like the garden as it is, so don't launch into a massive overhaul unless or until you know what you're trying to achieve with it.

I would wait a few weeks until the herbaceous perennials start to show their heads and then get a gardener to walk round the garden with you, telling you what's what (although the previous owner has already helped with this) and offering advice on what needs doing when. Small lawn plus lots of herbaceous perennials should be fairly low maintenance (depending, of course, on what the perennials are).

With a garden of that size, a veg plot is a good idea. Pick a relatively sunny area of the garden, although don't fret too much if it isn't very sunny as there is plenty that will grow in shade.

You'd also be very welcome on the happy horti cult/garden club thread where we drink virtual gin in the virtual potting shed and swap gardening tips!

wendycraigsmini Tue 08-Jan-13 14:05:16

Ooh, I'm envious! I agree with Maud, do join the local hort society. You should find that people will be more than willing to give you advice and you might even meet people you click with who you'd be happy to come over and talk you around the garden (in return for some cuttings wink. No matter how much you read in books, there's' no substitute for learning while doing.
Don't make any grand plans yet, just concentrate on a small area at a time, get to know what's growing there and keep on top of the weeds.
Take photos periodically so you can look back and see how things change over the seasons.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Tue 08-Jan-13 14:49:10

I always encourage MNers to join their local gardening society. I live mine - I've learnt a huge amount from fellow members and from visiting speakers, have been on some lovely outings (including Highgrove), won prizes and acquired dozens of plants for just pennies. It's fab!

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Tue 08-Jan-13 14:49:39

Err, I love mine.

MyAngels Mon 14-Jan-13 12:13:11

Thanks for the encouragement. I shall join the local society I reckon - their website does look welcoming, but doesn't have any contact details or email address to speak to anyone about joining!

Got more carried away with my loppers in the last week and may have overdone it with regard to a Moroccan Broom, whilst trying to get at my apple tree. I go a bit chop happy! Mind you parts of my garden are inaccessible - I need a machete to get to the bottom fence...

I love the idea of the virtual potting shed and gin, I will see you over there


DoodlesNoodles Mon 14-Jan-13 22:47:11

I love gardening and I don't have a clue either grin

One bit of advice I was given was to take lots and lots of photos at different times of the year.

I find gardening and pottering around my shed really relaxing. I have contracted out mowing to my teens but I am happy to do everything else.

You can look at what your nieghbours are growing. If they can grow a plant then so can you. If you live next to the sea there may be some plants that will struggle with the aspect.

I bulk buy fertilizer etc online from a company who supplies sports grounds and councils. It comes in huge bags but is a zillion times cheaper. I haven't got the name to hand but you can have a google.

I bought a 'HEAVY DUTY GARDEN CART TIPPER DUMP TRUCK' (copy and paste on Amazon). It is a wagon for gardening, I find it extremely useful and it helps with bad backs. Maybe, it won't be as useful on a sloped garden. confused

Finally, I think it is a good idea to go with the flow with gardening. It is meant to be fun and relaxing and not to be seen as a chore. I keep catching myself getting nutty about my lawn, I don't like it to have any weeds at all. It's a bit silly really.

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