The British are renowned for their love of gardens and gardening amongst other things. In fact, you only have to walk around my neighbourhood to find some extraordinary front gardens with beautifully manicured lawns, eye-catching coloured shrubs and the dazzling flower beds this side of South East London.
So proud are they of their gardens that once a year the British will throw open their gardens to the public in what is known as the National Gardens Scheme – gardens open for charity. The open gardens scheme was started in 1927 with the aim of raising money for nursing charities. The public were encouraged to throw open their gardens to the public charging a nominal fee that would be given to nursing and caring charities. Since then, every year thousands of private homes open their gardens to visitors, charge them a fee whilst offering them tea and cake (of course!). The foundation has raised £43million since its beginning with £23million in the last ten years for nursing and caring charities.
What does this say about the British other than their generosity and love of gardens? It says that their curiosity to nose around other people’s gardens is too irresistible!!! The British are by nature reserved and wouldn’t dream of walking into someone else’s garden without an invitation. So, to have such an opportunity once a year to check out what others are doing in their garden is a real treat.
Having lived in the UK since 1985, I have acquired the British love of gardens. Whilst I don’t pretend to be an expert in gardening, I do appreciate a well kept garden and do my best with our little garden.
And this brings me to the reason for this post. I spent the whole of last weekend working in my garden preparing it for the summer. I went to to the garden centre to buy some compost so that I could replace the old compost in my pots. I also bought a few bedding plants for a couple of these pots.
Every year I spend at least two weekends, selecting bedding plants like “busy lizzies”, geraniums, lobelia, diascia, and other gorgeous plants from the garden centre. I like to change my pots every year so I spend a long time in the garden centre getting different ideas on what plants to put in the pots. My garden centre always has a fabulous selection of beautifully planted pots to give keen gardeners inspiration.
I also buy enough plant feed to last me most of the summer together with the essential bug killer (to get rid of such bugs as greenfly, blackfly, whitefly, mealy insects) and slug pellets (for the slimy slugs and snails).
I normally replace the compost with fresh compost before planting. That can take a long time as I have to empty all the pots into garden sacks. I normally break the soil up with a garden hand fork and then with a scoop I scoop out the old compost. I prefer the scoop to a trowel as it is deeper. I always wear garden gloves when working in the garden.
Once I have put in some fresh compost, I sprinkle some plant food, mix it into the soil and the pot is ready for planting. I first arrange the plants around the pot. That way I can decide whether I like the floral arrangement. Once I am satisfied, I gently remove each plant from its plastic container and plant them into the fresh compost. Once my pot is ready, I give it a good soak with my hosepipe.
I have quite a few pots and also a hanging basket that is by my front door. This year I have planted trailing petunias in the basket.
We don’t have a lawn with grass so my husband is lucky – he doesn’t have to mow the lawn! All he has to do is the weeding and some gentle pruning in the summer. He normally uses a hoe to do the weeding and a pair of sharp secateurs for the pruning.
Once my pots are ready and planted, all I need to do throughout the summer is to water and feed the plants. I occasionally dead-head the geraniums and petunias to encourage new flowers to grow.
And that’s it. This week I shall go to my garden centre and buy all my bedding plants. I can’t wait! It’s my favourite time. I always go on my own so that I can spend as much time (and money) as I want choosing the colours and plants. This year my mother is with me so she will give me some invaluable advice.
If you happen to be in London this week, be sure to head to the Chelsea Flower Show. This is the annual must-see event for keen gardeners or anyone who appreciates lovely and amazing gardens. It starts today and finishes on Saturday 24 May. You can also see it online on the BBC.
Do you like gardening? Do you have any gardening tips you could share?
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Ciao for now