Know your space
You are embarking upon an exciting project. There is no end to this project and that is something that you must realise. A garden is a living, breathing, ever-evolving outside space. Even the lowest maintenance garden will require some sprucing up a few times a year. The sooner that this is viewed as an exciting opportunity to change the garden onto which you look or walk through the better. The role of Head Gardener is pretty awesome.
Being the Head Gardener of your own garden gives you the creative freedom to have the garden of your dreams. Whether you crave a productive and beautifully symmetrical vegetable garden like the one above at the stunning Yeo Valley Organic Garden in Somerset or a more informal but wonderfully scented and colourful garden to encourage bees and other pollinating insects, rather like my own here……
……as Head Gardener you must first go out and visit other gardens for inspiration. Join The Royal Horticultural Society and you can visit hundreds of gorgeous gardens for free. Whilst you are taking time to visit gardens and collecting ideas, keep a scrapbook or online pin board with photographs of scrumptious plants and clever landscaping. Make notes detailing exactly why you liked these gardens, how and where they would fit into your own garden and all the while keep dreaming.
I was utterly bowled over by the plant combinations in the Bronze Garden at The Yeo Valley Organic Garden (can you tell that it was my favourite garden visit of the Spring?!) and I am already forming an image of how I can have a bronze area in my own garden or suggest it to one of my clients.
During your allocated garden visiting time – and I would suggest that this period lasts for one year because you will see plants that flower or hold some form of interest (colour/texture/form/scent) in every season – you must observe your own space. Take a cane with a brightly coloured string bow tied to it and thrust it into the ground next to all of the plants that you want to keep – you may think that you will remember that clump of pheasant-eye narcissi but it is easy to forget once they have died back completely. Likewise, the shrub that lights up midwinter when everything else looks miserable…..give it a cane. This is another reason why I suggest that a year of dreaming, planning and visiting should be the first stage of your Head Gardenership.
A wonderful pot of tulips at Dyrham Park near Bath, Spring 2017.