What does everyone want in their garden…..yes….a compost bin. Every good garden should have one and as a novice gardener I decided to follow the golden rule of all gardeners and never did I realise that there would be so many…..
This is the perfect thing for putting in your grass cuttings and your kitchen food waste (no bones), along with soil that you want to keep for later. Give it a good mix as the nutrients will then be added back into the soil but you have to leave it to achieve this, and if you are worried about the smell then get one with a good lid and try to get it going before the end of summer and just leave it to work its magic.
I started one and just used a normal plastic bin to start with. You can pick them up for about £15 and even though we pay for our garden waste to picked up, I started adding to the bin and this year when putting in all the lovely new plants I had plenty of good nutrient rich soil to plant them in. You can pay hundreds in the end if you have one specially built but between £40 to £60 is the norm to pay. The next one will be to capture rain water especially if we end up with a hose pipe ban.
If you are having a problem with the soil in your area then try to replace it over time with the nutrient rich soil or if you want to do it now, then go along to a gardening centre that has peat…..mix your soil with some of the peat as that is rich in nutrient. Gardening is not a sprint, its not even a fast walk but a slow methodical journey that takes a lot of time to prepare. You need one part compost to one part soil when you are planting new plants as this will give it time to bed in.
I do recommend buying some manure pellets or if you can stomach it and live near a farm with horses then nip in, ask the farmer and get some good old fashioned horse manure and mix that in. Again, you need to leave it to compost over time but it will be perfect for growing flowers the next season. However, when you are getting round to planting please don’t put in more than 3″ of the new compost with the new plant as you still need some of the old soil too, and it is only for the top soil to feed the oldish soil.
If like me you have rich soil then go with a good handful of manure or some pellets and don’t forget to wear gloves, but if your soil is really poor and lacking nutrients then dig down as stated some 3″ and cover the area in the composted soil and water. Leave it for 48 hours to bed in and then rake it to ensure another good mix and then plant away.
It would be recommend to put in hardy items like wild rose bushes or heathers but space them far enough apart, as you may want to plant other plants. Perennials are good for those of you who don’t want the roses but one of the problems is that slugs love them so watch out for them, especially growing. I used to plant pansies with them as the slugs love them more. I sacrificed the pansies as I was not going to put pellets down as these are no good for other animals that use your garden. I have a dog and cats but you might get visited by hedgehogs and these are really bad for them…so be natural and keep it healthy.
The plants that are great for hardy growing are:
- Sow seeds in a container during the winter period. You might not have a green house so somewhere in a kitchen or outhouse will do. Remember to give them access to some sunlight and don’t forget to water them.
- If you seed directly, expect blooms the following spring after one season’s growth.
- If purchasing a plant in a container then plant either in spring or in the early autumn.
When you are ready to plant put in an area that has full sun and the soil should be moderately fertile as don’t forget these are hardy. If you put it into a too rich site then you will get more vegetation and less flowers. The area should be moist but well drained.
- Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart. but make sure that you dig a hole twice the diameter of the container. Leaving them that far apart will help them grow wide, and the whole idea of a border plant is to cover the border.
- When placing plant in the hole, make sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
- Fill around the root ball and firm the soil, you can press this down gently with your hands but don’t press to hard as you could damage the plant.
- Water thoroughly.
- Taller plants may need support/staking. I normally decide the following year if I am going to support a flowers and use bamboo as it gives it enough support. I try and use all natural products in the garden and it gives them something to actually grow strong with.
- Cover with a netting where possible as it keeps the birds of them and animals too such as a cat or a dog and allows the saplings some peace whilst growing.
Again you need to place these in areas that drain well but have plenty of sunlight during the day. If you treat it as you do the above plants. Water regularly but don’t overdo it and they will need pruning when grown and that is a job I love the most as it means I have successfully grown the plants but again put your clippings in your compost bin..
Do not forget that by this time you could be using the home made compost and you will know what sort of nutrients is in it, and by giving the flowers the best start in life you will be making an area that is loved by butterflies and bees.
I can be out in the garden and there could be as many as 40 to 50 bees out there with me, and infact they have moved into an old bird house. There is plenty of water and food for them and it also helps pollenate your garden too. These sort of plants are disease resistance too so by giving them a bit of space and a good start, then you can have them flowering for years.
These are wonderful plants and can be either put into a pot or directly into the ground. I preferred mine going into the ground and they are quick growers. Please take note that during the winter they look like sticks as the flowers have gone but they are not dead and will spring back into life when the Spring comes round again.
The area needs to be well drained but with good sunlight and so long as you prune down the sticks in winter, then they will spread at a very nice pace, and in some cases you can either put them together to create a border, or buy a fuschia type tree and put it in the pot as they look gorgeous on patios. I know that some people use them for hanging baskets but you need to put them around the area of the pot as well as in the middle as they will want to grow down. You will need a larger hanging basket to do this as the growth capacity can be bigger than expected, and it can be quite heavy so make sure you have a strong attachment to the wall. My overall choice for the hanging baskets is pansies as they grow beautiful and I know they need replacing every year but they look better than sticks in a pot waiting to grow during the winter. I will as the weather turns cooler be discussing winter plants if you want to put up hanging baskets and planting things like heather which keep their colour all year round.
When in full bloom they look absolutely stunning and I have them in the borders around my garden and I have reds, pinks and whites. I prefer these out of any of the hardy plants and they are beautiful. I planted one 4 years ago and it is now at 30″ tall and spreading. They are very fast growers. The ones around my borders are forced to grow width and slow height as I restricted the area around them and keep pruning them, as I have heathers and hebes in too. However, the one that is by the fence is the tall one and if you are going to grow them tall then either put a support in the ground or let it grow up against the fence and that will it support it too. Mine is growing up the fence and it is stunning in summer.
Eventually the ones that are growing in the borders will look like this and it is a natural attraction for bees, wasps and butterflies.
My final choice and one that the butterflies just love as well as the bees is Lavender.
Treat it the same way you would the others and you can plant March April, June, July and August and it will flower during the summer months and the smell is just gorgeous.
The bees are especially attracted to them and they are the hardiest of hardy plants and you only need on average 6 plants to create a wonderful border within a year or two. Make sure it is in placed in well drained soil but plenty of sunlight and then just prune as and when and sit back and enjoy the joy of watching the bees and butterflies. They smell the best either in a morning or in the dusk and the smell hits you when you open your door and it is nature at its best.
One of the things I did do was to put some gravel around the area as when planted it keeps the soil from drying out in harsh summers and protects them in winter, and this always helps as we have such bad weather here that keeping the plants frost free in the winter is one of the best ways for them to survive.
When they are young saplings I actually put a growing tunnel over them to ensure they mature through the winter and you can pick them up for anything from £12 upwards.
The sort of gravel you should put around the soil is readily available at any garden centre and it doesn’t cost a fortune. You can normally pick up 3 bags for about £20 and seeing as you are starting off with the borders then don’t bury the plants under the gravel but put around the plant to make sure it stays warm.
When you are ready to start looking at planting your borders have a look around and see what is the best area for the sun. Nothing is worse than planting and nothing happening as it dents the enthusiasm. So, if you look at your area and prepare it first making sure that the soil is suitable and if not then adding some nutrient rich replacement and preparing it 48 hours before, then you should be good to go.
There will be further helpful hints on the best plants to put around your border or starting your garden from scratch as I have had a lot of requests from people who are novice gardeners like me, and I will be putting further hints and advice on here.
Rule number one is that be kind to yourself. You are not an experienced gardener and it takes years and years of practice to get it right and I have many a times put the wrong plants in and it is only by trial and error that I am finally getting things right. As I have stated it is a long slow walk rather than a quick sprint and the one thing I do do when I am out there is just enjoy the closeness to nature as it helps you breathe slowly, peacefully and you can forget the world when out there.
My mother bought me a plaque for my garden shed and it read Sue’s piece of heaven and she is not wrong. I will be writing articles either daily or a couple of times a week on the garden so join me and see the improvements I make especially as plans are afoot to change the patio area completely. There will be photographs, costings and helpful hints and advice from where you can purchase the items from if you are interested.