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Guilt Free Gardening

We have reached that time of the year when it is a blessed relief not to be constantly braced against the cold, when looking out of the window brings pleasure not misery and when everything is really beginning to look full of life. Blossom is everywhere, Bath is full of colour and it seems that summer is really on its way.

Unfortunately this also applies to the seemingly endless tasks that suddenly loom ahead in the garden and can lead to stress induced garden anxiety, because not only is the blossom out and flowers starting to bloom but the weeds are too.

There are those of us who simply do not have limitless time to spend pottering in our gardens, and I for one, sincerely hope that a time might come when I do, but in the meantime, there is a business to run, other people’s gardens to attend to as well as a myriad of other wifely and motherly duties, all vying for my attention.

Then of course there is my own garden. This winter seemed to hit it really hard, resulting in everything being covered in a green mossy covering, many plants and shrubs being outright killed by the cold and everything looking generally very sad. Every time I looked out of the window, I would think, I really must get out there soon and get busy! Gardening is one of those tasks, rather like the ironing, which can become a real chore and that is a shame but it happens to the best of us!

Here are some of my suggestions for taking the guilt out of gardening and making it an enjoyable pastime rather than something else on your to-do-list!

1. Keep it simple: This year I have decided not to have hundreds of pots full of thirsty annuals demanding my attention every evening and resulting in hours spent watering. Keep to a few larger pots, and plant up using a water-retentive medium, there are plenty available. Consider planting with more permanent planting, which won’t mind too much if it is left for a week, or two without being watered. Except in extremely hot weather Bamboos, Pittosporum, Box and Acers all work really well in containers and give a good display.

2. Keep it clean: Start your gardening year with a really good clean up, get jet-washing, clean pots, scrub paving, decking and all surfaces which have greened up over the winter. Sweep paths and even gravel using a beezum or witches broom. Get any lawn mowers or strimmers serviced or fixed and spend a good day doing these chores knowing that you probably don’t have to do them again for another year!

3. Keep it covered: Have a look at your borders and areas which are planted and fill in any gaps with more planting, particularly ground cover plants which will keep the soil covered and suppress weeds. Consider planting grasses and herbs such as Rosemary which look fantastic and are not too much effort. Also add a thick layer of mulch in the form of rotted bark chippings, these need to go on really thick (3-4 inches) to have any effect, and also minimise watering during the summer as they can keep the moisture in.

4. Keep it organised: At the risk of sounding too uptight, it might be worth considering keeping a note in your diary to remember to keep on top of any pruning which needs doing. Particularly paying attention to any shrubs that will need cutting back after they have flowered this summer. Also think about a shopping list when visiting the garden centre, this way you won’t be throwing whatever looks nice on the day into your trolley and you will save money and be organised too! Planning ahead will help you to keep a great looking garden but also save your sanity if you are particularly busy.

5. Keep it relaxed: Remember that most of us spend more time looking at our gardens out of the window than we do in them, as long as you can look out and feel pleased with yourself and enjoy your garden that is the most important thing. If you are really struggling, then find someone to help you out in the garden a few hours a week, that way you can enjoy it more.

If your garden is giving you stress, then following these easy tips might help you to have a great summer in your garden. Be in charge of your garden rather than your garden being in charge of you!

Border control

I help many garden owners who feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do with the basic planting and layout of their borders. Sometimes this can be lack of knowledge and confidence, coupled with not much time so that their garden becomes a chore coupled with a nagging feeling that at some point someone needs…