Gardens are valuable spaces, not only for us but for a wealth of wildlife too. It’s estimated that millions of gardens in Britain cover around 10million acres – an area bigger than all the country’s nature reserves combined! Viewed from the air, you can see how they link together into green corridors providing wildlife with a range of habitats and the ability to move from one area to another to feed, breed, shelter and hibernate.
Every garden can be enriched to become a home for local birds and wildlife, planting flowering meadows for butterflies and insects, hedges for nesting birds and blossoms and blooms throughout the year to bring in bees, butterflies and insects.
There’s lots of information out there on how to plant a wildlife-friendly garden and with nature in mind. Don’t forget the benefits of reconnecting with the natural world and how therapeutic it can be!
Simply pottering around your plot, nurturing plants and being lost in the moment can be very relaxing, providing time for mindful contemplation. But gardening doesn’t have to be a lonely or solitary affair, with great benefit derived from bringing people together to talk gardening, sharing their gardening experiences and the crops and flowers they grow.
Togetherness has great value for our mental wellbeing, relieving boredom and providing opportunities to interact with others.
Joining a gardening club and enjoying talks and events at a local garden centre brings like-minded gardeners together. They’re a place to share gardening ideas and experiences as well as learn valuable skills and discover exciting new plants.
More community gardens are popping-up around the country too, providing opportunities for people to garden together and share produce, improving their levels of activity, physical, mental and social health.
Many groups also run shows that bring people together to celebrate growing and creative achievements. They may run outings to beautiful gardens and events where you can enjoy a day out in great company, making new gardening friends.
Whether swapping seeds, seedlings and spare plants, passing on problem solving advice, growing and gardening with others, or gifting beautiful plants to friends, by sharing a love of gardening we’ll all be growing together.
Plants are the perfect gift,whether for family, friends, to celebrate birthdays and special occasions, or as a treat! Garden centres and nurseries are full of beautiful plants this month, some with meaningful and personal names, so why not start your own gardening adventure.
Whether starting the day with tea and toast on the patio, relaxing in the shade, dining alfresco, or watching the sun setting with a cool drink, what better place to spend summer than in the garden. Bright mornings, sunny days and warm balmy evenings tempt us outside to enjoy a dose of green therapy, boosting our mood and recharging the batteries.
Surrounding yourself with plants brings you closer to nature, improving mood and relieving depression, taking away aches and pains, speeding-up rehabilitation after illness, and improving mental health.
That feeling of wellbeing you get from just being outside comes from a boost of what have colloquially been called ‘outdoorphins’, similar to the endorphins your body produces during exercise that reduce pain and raise the spirits.
There are plenty of plants available to add instant colour and impact to summer displays. We have many pots and hanging baskets ready-planted that can be put straight outside to enjoy. These bigger plants that are often already in bloom, make it easier for you to colour-coordinate and match with planting partners, furniture and accessories.
As well as ornamental plants, productive ones can bring enjoyment to the garden too, from pots of tomatoes, chillies and strawberries to vegetables, salads, fruits and herbs. Picking crops you’ve grown yourself boosts the brain, creating a feelings of wellbeing, and providing tasty produce to feed the family.
Plant displays could include:
Bedding plants like Begonia, Verbena, Petunias, Pelargoniums, Lobelia, Argyranthemum, Dahlia and Zinnia.
Hardy perennials like Geranium, Echinacea, Anthemis, Phlox, Astrantia, Salvia, Penstemon, Monarda, Helenium and Heuchera.
Shrubs like Hydrangea, Brachyglottis, Nepeta, Lavender*, Hebe, Choisya, Phormium, Cordyline, Yucca or climbing Clematis, Roses, Honeysuckle and Jasmine.
Fruit and veg like strawberries, tomatoes, chillies and peppers, squash, salad plants and potted herbs.
Pop into see us and we’ll happily help you choose!
Plants of the moment: Scented plants
Create arrangement or displays in your garden using any selection of fragrant plants and flowers. Also, include cut flowers and houseplants to bring fragrance indoors.
Here’s a few scented plant suggestions:
Breathe in and enjoy!
Spring is in the air, and there’s no better time to start planning and planting colourful displays to enjoy over the months ahead.
For instant impact choose plants at their best through spring including daffodils, tulips, fragrant hyacinth and other flowering bulbs, all perfect for partnering in patio pots and flower beds with seasonal bedding like pansy, viola, wallflower, bellis, forget-me-not, primula and polyanthus.
Growing flowers, crops and herbs from seed is also a rewarding way to grow, and perfect if you’re gardening on a budget. Many gardening activities like sowing, potting, watering and planting bring with them the rewards of nurturing and watching plants grow and flourish. By producing wonderful displays and enjoying the fruits of your labours you’ll be satisfying an intrinsic need for creativity and achievement, both important for our mental health and wellbeing.
Gardening is excellent exercise, too. Gently stretching and bending while planting and weeding helps keep you fit and flexible. More active gardening like digging, clearing, raking, sweeping and lawn mowing will also raise your heart rate, and burn off more calories too. Just an hour of active gardening could use around 250 – 500 calories. So, forget joining an expensive gym and get active outdoors in your garden instead.
If your borders lack structure and impact why not plant some bold evergreen flowering shrubs this spring. A wide range is available now to suit all sites and situations, from viburnum and camellia, to holly and hebe. Hedging plants surround a garden all year with a natural, living screen, or buy evergreen box to clip into fun topiary features.
Always prepare the soil thoroughly, enjoying the gentle exercise of digging deeply while adding organic composts to improve the drainage, structure and composition of your soil. Not only does regular gentle gardening in the fresh air keep you active it also helps release stress and improve mental health, connecting you with the soil and natural world to provide grounding and a sense of wellbeing.
So, spring into action and get your body and garden into shape for the year ahead.
Whether it’s drifts of golden daffodils or a multi-coloured kaleidoscope of tulips, spring bulbs are the perfect choice to fill borders, patio pots and window boxes. Many fill the air with their heady fragrance too, like hyacinth, making them an ideal pot plant to grow indoors.
Keep the colour coming by mixing bulbs with seasonal bedding plants including long-flowering wallflowers, frothy forget-me-nots, bold daisy-like Bellis perennis, pansies and dainty violas, or primulas and primroses. Also choose early flowering hardy perennials like brunnera, epimedium, bergenia, hellebores, euphorbia, and a host of others.
For many, camellias are the plant of choice for classy spring colour, and although they require an acid soil to flourish they can be planted into large pots of ericaceous compost instead.
Any plants providing Spring Colour eg.:
· Spring flowering bulbs
· Spring bedding plants, including Senetti
· Hardy Perennials such as Perennial Wallflower (Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ AGM), Hellebores, Euphorbia, Bergenia and Bruunera ‘Jack Frost’ AGM
· Green perennials to plant now such as Paeonia, Lupin, Delphinium, Hollyhock (Alcea), Digitalis.
Spring flowering shrubs:
· Erica x darleyensis eg ‘Ghost Hills’ AGM
· Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ AGM
· Oregon Grape – Mahonia aquifolium ‘Apollo’ AGM
· Pieris japonica eg ‘Passion’, ‘Flaming Silver’ AGM
· Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ AGM
· Camellia, Azaleas, Rhododendrons
Plant of the month – Snowdrops
Snowdrops. A wonderful sight in a month when the twinkly lights of Christmas have long since faded. Sometimes referred to as the flower of hope, they remind us that bright spring days will be here again.
When should I plant them? As dry bulbs in the autumn or as clumps in the late spring or in pots anytime
Where should I plant them? Under the canopy of trees ideally but any shady border or even in verge or under deciduous hedges
How much care do they need? A little potash feed and top dress with leaf-mould / compost in the winter
If I want to show off – what’s their Latin name? Galanthus
Interesting facts about the humble snowdrop – Snowdrops were used to treat headaches and as a painkiller but in modern medicine a compound in the bulb of the snowdrop has been used to develop a dementia treatment.
Some Galanthophiles (yes here is such a thing) have been know to pay up to £725 for one bulb!