Right Approach to Cottage Gardening
Try to look uponas another room, and spend as much or as little money as you would on any other main feature of the house.
It is against most people’s instinct to spend money outside. One imagines that outside, nature, which costs nothing, will provide and take care of everything. This, alas, at least in the initial stages, is not the case. A garden, even a natural, costs money at the outset. But with good planning, economies can be made. For instance some plants and trees create problems, others are obliging and easy.
But if you are as financially generous to your garden as you would be to your kitchen or dining room, then it’s a comfort to know that with a pleasant garden you are not only improving your property, you are enhancing the whole fabric of your life. There are no electricity, gas or rates bills for the garden, and hopefully the good Lord will provide sun, wind and most of the water to keep the garden flourishing once it is there.
The sort of hefty expenses that occur through wear and tear inside the house -recovering the sofa, making new curtains and redecorating – won’t crop up outside once the garden has been constructed and planted. While the fabric of a house deteriorates with time, a garden, especially agarden, improves with age. There will be small expenses each year like summer for the tubs and window boxes, organic for feeding the plants and the odd plant replacement. But if you stop to consider how often, without objecting, you may buy a plant or flowers for the sitting room, furniture polish or even a hoover for the house, why shouldn’t a garden warrant the same love, maintenance and treatment?
Taste and style are very individual. You or I may not like to see a bed full ofor pansies, or Municipal Gardens choice of , but that doesn’t stop it being a joy to behold in someone else’s eyes.
So it is important to do what you like. You will have to live with it. If you see a feature or plant scheme that pleases you, by all means try it. Gardening books are only there to inform, give suggestions, ideas, short cuts and guidance, not impose taste or style on the individual.
are enhanced by the use of as many coloured flowers as can be planted in them. But if you are planning a small town garden, the thought and consideration given to colour at planning stage, before buying a single plant is of great importance.
When my garden in London was planned, I was disappointed to be told that none of the existing plants in the back yard could be saved because they would not fit into the new colour theme.
Before you are initiated into the wonders of horticulture, it’s easy to imagine that any plant, even if it only has one green leaf, or if it flowered once two autumns ago, must be preserved at all cost. But I have since learnt that it is not worth keeping plants that don’t fit into the scheme of things, as all the plants in a trouble-free garden need to work towards presenting a year-round display.
So the colour of plants, along with the site in which they are to be planted, should be considered at planning stage. It is pointless to have plants that will not flourish in a certain position. For instance, if you want to have a light grey effect and plant small lavender and senecio in a damp shady corner, they will not survive as they both prefer full sun. So choose the right plant for the site. There is usually a choice of plants for sun or shade with either dark or light leaves. Hostas, for example, have a creamy, variegated leaf, love the shade and make a wonderful display to brighten up a dark spot from spring to autumn. Although they die back each winter, they are ideal for creating a light effect.
Vibrant colours in a small space can often overpower the more subtle pinks and whites. So to achieve a pleasing effect limit your choice of colour to ones which will blend harmoniously together.
I selected a pastel theme for my garden and decided to discard the violent yellow and orange flowers that were already there. This pastel choice was perfect for the garden, and the subtle theme of light and dark pink, white and a little blue, married together beautifully.
Buying Shrubs and Plant Care Cards
Some camellias, roses or geraniums have lovely gentle pinks, other strong strident reds. So look at the care card (if there is one) carefully before buying – especially if the flower is not in bloom – to check if the colour will fit in with your plans for your garden.
On the other hand it is easy to be tempted by the ‘pretty picture’ on the care card and buy a plant that is totally unsuitable for your garden. So however nice a plant looks, don’t buy it without first finding out its colour, what conditions it likes, what size it will grow and so on. A low-maintenance garden needs trouble-freeand evergreens. Otherwise you will be forever planting new plants to fill up the gaps made by plants, bought on a whim, that have now died down, as they turned out to be or unsuitable for your soil or site.
The pictures on care cards usually show only the flower, not the whole shrub or plant; this can be very deceptive, so find out about the whole plant before buying.