It's time to grow wild in the garden, says Karen Cannard
As I looked forlornly at our front garden, I couldn’t help but sigh at its sorrowful winter blemished state.
Normally at the end of February, I head to the garden centre with a spring in my step, getting ready to welcome in March with a blossom blessed bounty. This February was different. I didn’t want to break lockdown with a non-essential trip to the garden centre so it was time for some creative thinking.
It didn’t take long to whip out the garden trowel and embark on a removal operation, digging up spring bulbs that hardly make an impact in the back garden to transplant them into a single bed at the front.
There were some that I’d also planted in pots last autumn and a few that I’d got started on our allotment too. Another blooming bonus.
It got me thinking about how resourceful people have been during the periods of lockdown over the last 12 months.
I recall last year when not knowing how long lockdown would last, for the first time ever, we grew much of our summer bedding plants from seed or tiny plug-plants delivered in the post. It was mostly down to the luck of nature than any green-fingered talents that they thrived.
Facebook groups were awash with free seedlings and cuttings being shared within local communities. We were happy to share our own surplus plants with neighbours and passers-by too, with bay tree seedlings and pruned ground cover plants replanted into pots that were then scooped up from the end of our path. I hope that this sharing and resourceful community spirit will continue and grow through 2021.
Spring is a refreshing time of year. A season that brings new hope, new energy and new ideas. If you’ve been planning on making changes to your garden, now is the time to unleash your ambition.
Seasoned gardeners will already be embracing their latest seed catalogues, ordering new additions to their gardens or allotments. If you’re a novice gardener even with only a windowsill or balcony, it’s the perfect time to follow in their footsteps, no matter what you fancy planting.There’s lots of inspiration out there, including planting calendars that can be found in gardening books, magazines and online. Ideas for container gardens are plentiful, too.
Maybe you’re thinking of creating a more wildlife friendly garden? The RSPB has lots of tips plus advice on gardening more sustainably, including composting: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/creating-a-wildlife-friendly-garden
Perhaps you’re looking for money-saving ideas for recycling and upcycling? If so, Thompson & Morgan has plenty of suggestions at: https://www.thompson-morgan.com/garden-recycling-tips. Other creative tips can be found at the Gardeners’ World site: https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/upcycling-in-the-garden/.
If this is the year that you are pondering supersizing your green-fingered ambitions, you might want to consider adding your name to the waiting list for a local allotment.
You can find more information and how to apply at your local council’s website. Waiting lists vary, as do the size and condition of the plots. My advice is to always visit the plot first before you sign a tenancy agreement. In my experience as a totally novice allotmenteer, it is helpful to know that some allotments have smaller plots, which are ideal if you are just getting started. More tips can be found at sites such as the RHS: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/allotments and the National Allotment Society: https://www.nsalg.org.uk/growing-advice/monthly-advice/.
Of course, allotments aren’t only great spaces for fruit and veg, they offer brilliant growing space for seasonal flowers too. If only I can get my planning right, maybe next spring I will be even better prepared rather than my usual haphazard approach.
Meanwhile, I hope the gladioli that I planted will be back this year. However, having just read that I should have dug up the corms, dried them off and then replanted, I think I’m just living on the edge of floral expectation. Oops.