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Plant Growing - Where and What to Plant

This section is to give an idea of what to think of before buying your plants for the garden or anywhere else. Seasoned gardeners will already know much of what is here but if you are new to gardening then hopefully this section will give you a bit of guidance before going to a nursery or garden centre to buy plants where the choice can be overwhelming.

Here are some questions you might want to think about initially:

  • What do you want your garden to achieve?
  • Why not visit some gardens to get ideas?
  • Is this your first garden?
  • Is it a new garden with an empty canvas?
  • Is it an established garden but haven’t a clue what is in it?
  • Where does the sun shine in the garden? 
  • What type of plants do you want to grow?  
  • Flowers? ..  Shrubs? ..  Climbers? ..  Fruit? ..  Vegetables? .. Lawn? .. Wildflowers?

What do you want your garden to achieve?

This might sound really simple but is it?  Whatever size your garden is taking time to answer the question above may make all the difference in how you use that space.  You will come up with many questions but here are a few for you to consider:

  • How much time do you want to spend on looking after your garden?  Be realistic as to the time you can spend on maintaining a garden
  • How much do you want to spend on your garden?  If you do the project yourself this will save a lot of money and also be extremely rewarding.
  • Do you have children?  Want space for them to play in?
  • Area to sit out in and absorb the sun? when we get it!
  • Maintain your privacy in the garden?
  • Want to grow flowers? Have an area for fruit and vegetables?

Why not visit gardens for ideas?

The National Gardening Scheme is a charity that was set up in 1927 to allow people into gardens that are normally closed to the public. They are private gardens of all sizes and found all over the UK. The gardens are opened by their owners for a very modest price of around the cost of a cup of tea and a slice of cake. It has enabled the scheme to donate £50 million to charities across the UK.  For brilliant ideas and a relaxing day out why not visit a garden near you The National Gardening Scheme.

Many specialist growers have developed a garden alongside their nursery. They are fascinating nurseries and gardens to visit for  ideas as well as a lovely day out. Their staff are always extremely knowledgeable. Below are three such places that I love.

Beth Chatto Gardens are amazing gardens which I first visited in the 1970s’ as a horticultural student. Beth Chatto developed her gardens from extremely poor soil and created gardens that would exist with very little water.

Bressingham Gardens was originally designed by Alan Bloom in 1962 with his passion for perennials which he grew on the nursery. He also had a passion for steam railways. His enthusiasm and passion is carried on by his family and is well worth a visit. I have visited it many times since the 1970s’.

Hillier Nurseries is one of the most well known nurseries in the UK and was founded by Edwin Hillier in 1864. When you look at their website you will see that they have several garden centres in southern UK and their plants are sold all over the country. Harold Hillier, grandson of Edwin, was passionate about developing a garden and arboretum dedicated to trees and shrubs that grow well in the UK and it is a beautiful place to visit. In the late 1970s’ it was gifted to Hampshire County Council and is known as the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and is run as a charity.

Gardens 2 visit facebook page recommends places to visit throughout the year

Botanical gardens can be found in most large cities, so search for one near where you live. Let me know of gardens that you love near you and we can add them to the website.


Is this your first garden?

If it is you are probably extremely excited or bewildered. The most important thing is to keep it simple and within your budget. Remember a garden evolves and the exciting thing is adding new plants that you discover over time

Spend a bit of time looking round gardens to see what you would like to do. Go to plant nurseries or garden centres that have gardens attached to them to get ideas . It is always best to see a plant growing in a garden before buying.

Visit some of the gardens in the above section. Not only are they inspirational but also these have been developed by growers and people that are passionate about plants.

Is it a new or established garden?

If you have moved into a brand new property then you probably have a blank canvas. Builders will probably have put a small patio or just path around the house and some turf. That’s fine, don’t rush into it. You need to observe the garden for a few weeks or even a couple of months and take note of where the sun rises and sets, if there are any dark areas with no sun. Does the ground lie wet in any area?  Take pictures at different times of the day from different angles. Pictures can be useful when you go to a nursery to get advice on what and where to plant.

When moving into an established garden I think it is best to observe the garden over the growing season. There maybe some lovely plants that come up throughout the year such as bulbs and herbaceous perennials which die down during the winter so you can’t see what is there. When the plants grow then decide which you want to keep. If it is a plant that dies down after flowering, mark with a cane so you know where it is.

Where does the sun shine in the garden?

It is important to know what part of the garden is in the sun or in the shade and at what time of the day this occurs. It will help you decide where you might like a patio.  Also remember that the plants you put in will create shade depending on where they are situated.