What now for our gardens?


In these difficult times many of us are seeking solace in our gardens. If we have a place to catch the sun, watch the birds and butterflies and listen to the bees, we are very lucky indeed.

Gardens, however, do not look after themselves and at this time of the year lots of work is required to ensure summer and autumn looks as good as spring. What will replace the bright euphorbias, the glamorous camellias and the fresh daffodils?

The news this morning told us that garden centres and nurseries were about to lose a billion pounds as they have no way of selling the large amount of stock normally ordered at this time of the year. As one who always buys plants for containers in spring I will have to reconsider my approach.

We can still buy plants online – these vary from tiny seedlings which have to be nurtured before putting into the soil to well established plants ready for display. I have had excellent plants from Crocus.co.uk but they are not cheap.

As they supply much of the planting for the now cancelled Chelsea Flower Show they may well be offering discounts over the next few weeks. Beth Chatto Nurseries also supply excellent plants and are well known for the wide variety of unusual plants suitable for different places.

Another approach for containers could be to try all those plants which seed themselves relentlessly. These would include the lower growing grasses such as stipa tenuissima, various carex, verbena hastata (the taller verbena bonariensis being a bit tall for containers). Euphorbias are notorious trespassers but their foliage always looks good, even when the flowers have gone.

“A more minimalist approach”

We could, of course, try a more minimalist approach and have clear ground and bare patios. This goes against all my gardening instincts and it’s harder to keep such a garden looking good but if you’re the neat and tidy sort of person, it could work.

Meanwhile, there are still the post-winter tasks to complete such as clearing the dead stalks from last season, while leaving some soft material for birds to line their nests, getting rid of those weeds which do not seem to have died down and clipping the thugs like honeysuckle and buddleia.

We must remember that the birds are building nests, or even laying eggs, and e shouldn’t be trimming hedges at the moment. Even tidying shrubs can scare away indignant pigeons from their nests, as I guiltily discovered last week.

Perhaps the gardens may benefit from the only silver lining of this current episode, that is the clearer, cleaner air, the result of diminished traffic. Let us hope we can have a fruitful gardening spring and summer, with more beneficial vegetables grown and spiritual benefits derived for those of us lucky enough to have outside space.

Image Credits: Linda Harland .

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