Thursday, March 26, 2020

Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre

THE ‘Coronavirus’ is something quite surreal and most people have a hard time getting used to the idea of getting the safety basics right. This is especially true as many can remember or recall a number of films based on what is happening now and, of course, it was first occurring overseas and therefore not on our doorstep but, with seemingly undue haste, it has suddenly arrived and is here to stay for some time.

Take control

There has been an enormous amount of publicity and it is continuous via a number of outlets, some of which comes from rumour, hearsay and sincere opinions. I suppose, what is difficult is that all that is going on is mostly out of our control but there are things we can do and one option is to spend more time in isolation in our garden.

Garden concept

In my opinion, having some open space or garden should serve a specific purpose in order to achieve the full advantage of the facility. This purpose can be broken down into four compartments which are 1) change, 2) haven, 3) interest and 4) in tune.


It is a trendy comment to say that the garden is an extension of your home and this is commonly referred to as your ‘room outside’. All this is true but it must be much more than that as if it was considered just one of your rooms it would not be enticing enough to head out there. I feel it needs to be designed and created so as to have a change from your normal routine of work and everyday activities. It should be the place to go after a heavy and tiring day, and if it is not, then think about changing that soon.


Part of your garden or open space can also be to the front but in reality that is not the place you would sit out and relax, as there is usually no privacy and you would feel a bit exposed whether that was true or not. It is in the back garden or other secluded area that you would feel safe and secure, and most people find that within a short time they are chilling out more and any stress disappears.


Some gardens contain a lot of hard landscaping which translates into structures or areas made of concrete, wood, stone, gravel and other non-living materials. I am afraid that these leave me cold and are not in any way interesting in the long term but having a good proportion of plants incorporated into the design will be immediately spark and stimulate interest and as plants are living things there is constant change and with it there is always something to look forward to.

In tune

Without thinking about it, many people experience a change inwardly when out and about in natural surroundings and that is experienced when by the sea, woods, rivers and mountains among other areas. The reason is that by being exposed to the power of nature you have no control over how it affects you but find that it stimulates the brain and the whole body transforms with it. The advantage of having green living plants in your garden is that the same effect can be had on your doorstep without the trouble of having to leave your home.


This period of isolation gives us an opportunity to change the way we think and live. The situation has been enforced on us but it shows us the value of having some space for ourselves, wherever that is, and we now have the time to redefine, adjust and tweak our lives and the garden will go a long way to achieve that.


The season for close to ideal lawn sowing is during April and it is also a good time to complete any lawn repairs and maintenance. For established lawns get the grass height quite low to around 5cm (2”) and then sow any bare patches larger than 30cm (12”) and you can give a feed if the lawn looks hungry or pale. A weed treatment and moss killer can be carried out from now on until mid-June.

Planting garlic, shallots and rhubarb is almost finished until next winter but onion sets have a longer season and can be planted for another month and later if they are just grown for salads and not intended to mature as they would just bolt and flower.

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By Melanie Dool
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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