"We may think we are nurturing our garden, but in fact our garden is nurturing us."  Jenny Uglow (author and publisher).

 

 

 

Recently, having more home time than we had anticipated has had many consequences; many of them challenging as we all adapt to lockdown limitations.  Every cloud brings its own silver lining however; more time at home means more opportunities to really enjoy what it offers. Our gardens have arguably never been so appreciated as now.

 

Being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Cotswolds has always been an area synonymous with beautiful flora. Coupled with the rolling hills and picturesque villages, organisations such of the NGS (National Garden Scheme) mean that visitor and residents alike are able to visits hundreds of different private houses and, on payment of a small donation to the charity, enter and explore the gardens; perhaps even enjoy a cup of tea as well!

 

Your own aims and plans may not extend this far; you may be satisfied with merely turning your fingers a little greener than they were, or converting a scruffy corner into something more aesthetic. Whatever your particular inclination, we offer the following as reference points for your horticultural journey. 

 

  1. Don’t neglect function over form; have you considered a kitchen garden (for the better-endowed among you) or even just some fresh herbs in pots outside the back door? Even for the most occasional cook, nothing beats adding fresh basil to a salad, or home-grown rosemary sprigs to your roast potatoes. Herb plants are easily available, cheap and above all hardy; what’s not to love?

  2. Think about maintenance and upkeep - we have time now but in seasons to come would you rather enjoy your outdoors, or enjoy spending time maintaining it? Plan your planting, or even your “grass/hedge v. flower” ratio, accordingly.

  3. Exact shapes and razor edges are all very well, but sometimes it is best to leave  things to evolve. AA Milne famously said that “weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them” so why not turn an area over, sprinkle with some wildflower seeds and watch what happens over the coming months? Provide an occasional water, and in time you’ll have a wonderful blend of flowers, grasses and blooms to enjoy. As will all manner of bees and insects!

  4. It’s not just a Spring season; gardens can flourish all year round. Don’t forget to make provision and space for a sprinkling of early-flowering plants like snowdrops and crocuses (the latter again in Autumn), to allow for the falling of leaves and where best to plant evergreen hedging for shelter and colour

  5. Horses for courses; like human beings (!) there are particular plants that thrive in the Cotswolds; alliums, peonies and irises are three that spring to mind, while the classic wisteria-fronted cottage never goes out of style!

  6. It’s not even all about growing things; don’t be afraid to separate areas with edging or even gravel patches. The benefits are that they are easy to install and maintain and that colour and form never change.

  7. Equally not everything needs to go into the ground; pots and planters add depth and scale to even the smallest of spaces, plus have the benefit of being moveable if required.

  8. Go outside your comfort zone. Mark a gateway with a pergola or arch; create a trompe l’oeil window through a hedge with a framed mirror. Feeling spiritual? How about a small shrine or space for reflection? Everyone has a functional shed, but how about a sheltered space or even a canopy above a small bench or seat. 

  9. Are you brave enough for a theme? Might be colour; could be style. Whatever it is; make sure it works all year round!

  10.  Last item on the list is not about creative ideas as much as a thought to leave with you. Albert Einstein is known for many things (not necessarily horticultural), but this quote seems to make perfect sense right now. “Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better”. In these tricky times, this feels … prescient …

 

Furthermore…

 

Even the largest journey starts with the smallest step. Follow these steps now to get a headstart on the Summer...

 

  • Deadhead all your daffodils and tulips (NB let the leaves die back in their own time)

  • Put up supports for your perennials before they start growing too tall

  • Start growing annuals from seed - sow directly outside now the soil is warming. Simply scatter seeds of cosmos, cornflowers, nigellas and orlayas in any gaps in your borders

  • Start planting your veg - even in pots if space is limited. By May you can sow directly spinach, carrots, radishes, beetroot, peas and lettuces

  • Mow your lawn weekly and give it a feed if you can. Keep on top of your weeds before they get out of control!

  • Towards the end of May cut back perennials such as echinacea, asters and anthemis to get more blooms later in the flowering season (this is known as the “Chelsea chop”!)

  • Order your seeds now, there are delays in delivery but many centres are still processing orders, as well as online specialists like Dobies

 

Despite the lockdown, many garden centres have made arrangements for delivery of as many of their products as is practical and possible! The following are a few examples that we have used successfully; each will be delighted to help you make the most of your newly-greened fingers!

 

 

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Cirencester Estate Agent

Home Testimonial - Alison Sims, Hunts Barn

The communication and care that we have received from Butler Sherborn has been second to none and we have no hesitation in recommending them. We have been very impressed by the company's standards not only during the process but also following our move.
— Alison Sims, Hunts Barn - April 2016