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Talk very slowly to a total gardening novice

(11 Posts)
TheOriginalWinkly Mon 08-Jun-15 19:49:15

I'm hopefully going to be moving soon, from a garden-less flat to a house with a smallish south/south west facing garden, plus borders round the front of the house. I'm incredibly excited, my mother and grandmother are both fantastic gardeners and I want to eventually have something very lovely outside smile

It's a new build and turfed with a small patio area so it's a complete blank canvas (probably with crap soil.) Any and all ideas and advice appreciated - talk slowly, I know nothing! smile

cheapandcheerful Mon 08-Jun-15 20:36:13

I was in a similar position to you a few months ago and am now successfully installed in the new house (and garden!)

My in-laws are also very keen gardeners and bought me an RHS book called 'Gardening month-by-month. It's great! It has lots of photos to help identify things and explains really clearly what to do and when.

storybrooke Mon 08-Jun-15 21:35:53

That's exciting! We're in a new build and sorry to say the soil is pretty bad and we found lots of rubble under there, but you can improve it a lot. What sort of garden were you looking to create? Flowers, shrubs, veggies, fruits?

I'm mostly a newbie too so can't really give much advice but wanted to say hey smile

cooper44 Mon 08-Jun-15 23:15:33

how exciting - I too knew almost nothing about a year ago and have been on an extremely steep learning curve over the last year. It's amazing how much you can learn and then how much more there is still to learn.
I would say 1. Don't panic - thinking about what you want and spending a while doing that is well worth it. 2. Visit as many other gardens as you can to get ideas and learn things. 3. You can find out an amazing amount online - RHS site is brilliant for almost anything. Pinterest is fab for ideas. I use things like Crocus to just put plants together or see what their suggestions are for partners etc. 4. Work out all your gardens basic ingredients - your soil and drainage, the sun, if you are exposed in any way (we are south facing too but on a hill with pretty full-on wind exposure for example). 5. look at what grows well locally. 6. Ask endless questions - I hassle gardening friends non-stop but I think (hope) that gardeners really like sharing information.

funnyperson Tue 09-Jun-15 06:06:41

Spend time sitting on the patio looking st where the sun goes and where tree shade is and what you would like to see and smell and hear from where you are sitting. This is near midsummer so roses will figure and now is a good time to look at rose gardens to decide which roses you like- which climbing roses, for your boundaries, and which srub and rambler roses for you beds. Then you can order them in and plant them in the autumn when you plant your bulbs. This gives time for your roses to establish.
Give thought also to fruit trees- where will you plant them, will you want stepovers, espaliers, fans, cordons or just fruit tree shapes.
Give thought to winter structure- so what will the bare bones of your garden look like when all the decidous trees have lost their leaves and the borders are barish so factor in some evergreen and topiary and grasses.
There are some nice garden design books out there probably best borrowed from the library that also talk about what you can see from the house windows and paths and so on.
DO come and join the pottind shed thread- it is long standing and goes on through the seasons and we all share successes and handhold through gardening disasters
BTW I now feel I have got the soil enriching thing to a fine art: I 'mulch' my beds (ie spread over a 4 inch layer) twice a year with compost leaf mould and well rotted horse manure, once in spring about march and once in autumn about september and the rest of the year I put in compost when I am planting something. I never use weedkiller and I encourage birds butterflies and bees and I am fortunate the birds eat the slugs and snails.

funnyperson Tue 09-Jun-15 06:08:43

Carol klein took a couple through a new garden on gardeners world.
They had a raised veg bed and a nursery bed to nurture plants they had bought.

Chimchar Tue 09-Jun-15 06:34:16

I am a novice too, but one tip I read and enjoy doing, is to wander around your street and see what your neighbours are successfully growing. If it grows in their garden, it should grow in yours!

Good luck with your move!

shovetheholly Tue 09-Jun-15 08:00:43

Hooray for your new garden!

I think you sound like you already know what you're doing - you're going to be soooooo fine!

Grab a good book and have a sit in your garden for a whole day (preferably when it's lovely out). Watch where the sun goes. Make a plan of where it's shady and where it's sunny every couple of hours, so you don't end up siting a patio or veg garden in the dankest, wettest corner of the garden or a lawn in deep shade. Accepting what you have and working with it is so much easier than trying to do something that runs directly counter to what nature wants to do in your plot. When you buy plants, don't be seduced by the lovely-looking specimens in the garden centre: check whether they'll actually grow in your plot first! And also whether they are hardy, because the last thing you need is an entire border that needs to be removed and stored all winter because it's tender. (Doing this with a couple of plants is OK, though!)

Make a list of all the things you want in your garden - play area, sandpit, pond, lawn area, herbacious borders, wildlife area, veg area - whatever. Then work out the practicalities - if you work from home and have small children who like playing outside, it might be a good idea to have a lawn in sight of the house, for instance. Try to figure out how to join the things you want together in a way that provides not just a flat 'plan' but a journey, so you can walk through the garden and be delighted and surprised - use big plants or features to screen areas off so that you can turn a 'corner' and be in a new area. This is possible even in very small spaces, with some thought.

Fill loads of pinterest boards with all your ideas and anything that inspires you. Such a great resource, and free too. Have a look in neighbours' gardens and see what grows with abandon, because chances are it'll work for you too.

Once you've got a rough idea in place (and don't worry, things will inevitably change as you go on), the main thing is not to shy away from the work that needs to be done at the start: you've already grasped that (proverbial and literal) nettle, which is great. You know the soil contains loads of rubble - so that needs to come out wherever you want to plant, to about two spades' depth. Buy a mattock, some rigger gloves and some of those strong plastic trugs and give up your gym membership because you're not going to need it for a bit! Then add loads (and I mean loads, think: measured in bulk bags) of compost, perhaps with a bit of manure if you think the soil is poor (upgrade that to lots of manure for veg). Add gypsum and grit for heavy clay.

Then plant, and enjoy your new hobby! Welcome to a world of obsession!! grin

MyNightWithMaud Wed 10-Jun-15 22:06:48

And drop into the potting shed threads for gardening chat with fellow obsessives!

TheOriginalWinkly Thu 11-Jun-15 15:03:32

Lots of good advice here, thanks everyone.

I've just got the RHS book cheapandcheerful recommended. I'll dig out a sketch book for plans (sitting out all day? What a hardship!) Beds need to be dug and composted, but the only things I definitely want are climbing roses, strawberries, and a little herb patch. Beyond that, just some colour would be a nice place to start .

funnyperson Thu 11-Jun-15 21:37:03

Ah yes, but which colours? soft and pastel, hot and vibrant, jackson pollock or matisse?

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