Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
IT is natural for anyone wanting to garden to have ideas of the way the garden should be created and it usually works if initially there has been some thought put into the design. One of the basic principles is to delay the project until you are certain of what you want and that includes making a list of the things you need to have.
No matter what level of development your garden is at, there is no harm in reassessing your needs and see if there are ways of improving certain aspects of your private space. Those with established gardens can take stock, look at what works and what is annoying or lets the side down and then do something about it. Solid structures might be more difficult to alter, while the planting or moveable features can be altered without much hardship.
Your list of needs will come in handy when making alterations or starting from scratch. Utilities such as a shed, bins, play area, clothes line or frame might all have to fit in or be out of sight before you start with the seating areas including patio. These requirements come easier to experienced people and if you need guidance just ask – it is usually free advice. All the above we refer to as solid foundations. Do keep in mind that plants will help pacify the harshness of these solid structures and should be incorporated whenever possible.
Very few of us can pick a good location for a garden and, frankly, the priority would be getting a house in the first place and then make the best use of the outdoor space. I suppose you can decide what general area you would like or need to live in and after that see if there is anything available.
I visited a newly built house last week and the only place where there is any sun is in the late evening in a 2.5m (8’) square space in the back corner. Unfortunately, the house is surrounded by high walls, other houses and facing the wrong direction where all the sun appears for hours in the front where very few people would be comfortable relaxing in full view of the estate.
There is nothing worse that rushing into finishing your garden in a hurry as you might make costly mistakes that are hard to undo. There is usually enough to do indoors or in other areas and you can make sketches and plans in the meantime. Then start by taking one step at a time. Note the different aspects of the site, putting the utilities in areas where they are least visible, noting shady and sunny spots, and if there are areas that need screening from neighbouring windows.
If your garden is enclosed, you can manipulate conditions to a degree as your space is a microclimate and that may bring opportunities to grow plants that would not otherwise survive outside the garden. Some examples would include a coastal aspect or a severely exposed hilly site, whereas in your sheltered inner sanctuary anything goes. In a few words, let your garden dictate your actions.
TIP OF THE WEEK
With the ongoing spiral of lower temperatures and shorter days, all plants are slowing down with less flowers and vegetables being produced but you can extend the season by picking off faded flowers, seed heads and vegetables for a number of weeks yet. Stop extension growth of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and aubergines as small immature vegetables will not come to maturity at this stage. The price of wild bird seed has rocketed so maybe let the birds forage for themselves until it becomes very cold. If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future article.