Think Garden, Think Richard: Outdoors is the place to be…

Soaking up some nature by Melbourn garden designer, Richard Arnott

In this new series of articles, I look at things to be doing in the garden during these uncertain times and reflect on how important our outside time is to nourish ourselves. Keeping physically and mentally fit should be high on list of priorities.

In my life time being outside has never been as important to our health and wellbeing as it is now. Those of us who have been lucky enough to have a garden have found it invaluable during the height of lock down. As restrictions are easing many more people are reaching out to the natural world for its restorative powers who perhaps had not appreciated it before. It does not matter how big or small your garden happens to be it is all about being outside and learning to do more with a little bit less. 

Nurturing through deadheading and pruning is an important part of good horticultural practice. During lock down I heard so many stories of people getting outside into their gardens and taking the time to engage with planting and enjoy noticing the changes as the garden grew. For many of us with gardens they have never looked so well-manicured! We are normally so busy rushing through our lives that we don’t take time to appreciate the little things like a leaf bud unfurling or petal opening. The old adage of “It’s not the destination but the journey that we should be enjoying” is very poignant. I have seen many clients over the years who profess to want a lovely garden but when we enter the discussions of plant selection bring up that dreaded phrase “low maintenance” when really what they want is “no maintenance.” I have learnt to conceal my disappointment at hearing this dreadful term, but I can not help the feeling of disappointment. There is enormous pleasure to be had from nurturing a garden. Dead heading climbing roses is enormously satisfying and also helps to promote new flowers. Trimming back Wisteria growth to 7 buds keeps them in check but is also a good opportunity to assess the health of a plant. Carefully picking apples is the culmination of a good growing season. Pruning and shaping shrubs after flowering is a great way to promote plant health and vigour. Try to avoid pruning everything with the ubiquitous hedge trimmed short back and sides look. Hedge trimmers are for cutting hedges and secateurs and loppers are for pruning shrubs.

Reflecting on successful plant combinations and unsuccessful plant combinations is a great way to move your garden forwards. We all have plants in the garden that were either a gift or inherited from the previous owners. I always advise clients to live with new gardens for a year to see what they have got then make a proper assessment. Take pictures if necessary and assess the plants by your own taste preferences. If a plant combination is simply not working for you don’t be afraid to start again. Life is too short to accept second best! It is good to recycle plants where you can but whatever you do don’t keep looking at a disappointing area year after year. I strongly recommend having a list in your phone or using a pinterest page. I also recommend using a theme for example a pastel coloured English country theme or naturalistic perennials and grasses theme. This is great for filtering out plants that do not fit the theme and focusing on those that do.

For more in depth advice or garden design help, please get in touch to arrange a consultation or take a look at the new website.
07710 547493 or 01763 263231