Starting a Garden or Taking Over an Existing Garden
Quick, Temporary Colour when Starting a Garden
Many annual garden plants are of great value to the new garden owner. Provided the ground can be prepared for spring sowing or planting (in the case of half-hardy annuals when all danger of frost has passed) then a splendid display can be had throughout the summer of the first year while other more permanent features get under way.
There is, too, a wonderful pleasure to be gained from starting a garden with packets of seeds and getting results so quickly – and flower seeds are still remarkably cheap in relation to most other gardening commodities, including established garden plants, nowadays.
Positioning a Greenhouse
I think too much stress has been put by some authorities on the way a greenhouse is orientated. North to south, so that you get the maximum benefit from the sun in the morning and afternoon, is the ideal, but there are often reasons why such orientation is not possible, especially in a small garden. In an east-west-facing house, the plants which need sun can be placed on the south side, those that appreciate shade on the north.
Much more important, is to have your greenhouse and frames near to the house so that they are easy to get to in bad weather and there will be no problems about laying on electricity supplies, should these be needed.
Even a small greenhouse, with a little thought, can be made to provide a supply of colour throughout the year.
A conservatory can be a source of enormous pleasure. It needs to be south or west-facing, of course, and with french windows into the living room can bring the garden indoors in winter. And what about those windy or wet days at other times of the year when it is pleasant to sit in comfort among your!
Summary for Owners of New Gardens : Starting a Garden
To summarise then, I would say that the following points are some of the most important to watch if you are starting a garden and making it entirely new:
- Sort out in your own mind the kind of garden features you want to have and consider carefully how these are going to relate to the size and physical surroundings of your plot.
- When you are ready to start work put first things first and make sure that jobs which cannot be easily attended to later (like laying land , where these are necessary) are given precedence.
- Do not rush your fences but plan the full development of the garden over four or five years if you have a large area to cope with, less of course for smaller areas.
- Make sure that the garden you design can develop and is the kind you can enjoy over many years, and remember that it is the least pretentious layouts and planting schemes which usually hold your interest longest.
- Always buy first-class plants from good nurseries. There is no profit at all in running a garden for plant invalids.
Taking over an Existing Garden
Sometimes this can present as many problems as starting a garden from new, but quite often, you can be lucky enough to follow a keen gardener with good ideas suited to the surroundings. I would always be very cautious indeed about making major alterations unless I was quite sure that what I was doing was right and necessary to develop the full potential of the site.
If trees and garden plants such as large shrubs in particular are removed, these can leave gaping holes which will take a very long time to fill, and they should certainly not be discarded light-heartedly. On occasions, it may be possible to find new sites for good plants which will fundamentally alter the appearance of the garden. Perennials can, of course, be moved without trouble, and shrubs can be re-sited successfully if dealt with carefully.
Once again, as so often in gardening, my advice would be to hasten slowly. Formulate your thoughts carefully, see where modifications can be made to make unsatisfactory features fully acceptable, and only when no solutions seem possible eliminate existing features entirely. If the latter is necessary, however, act boldly and make a really first-class job of it.
I think that the main danger of taking over someone else’s creations is that you can act hastily and unwisely. If the garden is unattractive to the eye, the object of displeasure may be immediately obvious, but it is more likely to be more difficult to pin down – like a badly shaped bed in the wrong position, unsympathetic curves or the wrong plant associations. It will often be found that even quite modest changes in emphasis will give a garden quite a different character.
There can be no doubt that making an existing garden more closely meet your own tastes, can be just as stimulating as starting a garden from scratch.