When I was a little girl I absolutely hated having to go with my mum to the garden centre.
Being dragged around a place full of boring old plants was certainly not my idea of fun, but dragging us around the garden centre (for what sometimes felt like hours!) was indeed what my mum would do.
In order to keep me behaving myself I sometimes got to choose the new miniature rose for the garden (this would entertain me for approximately 10 minutes), a stone or bark animal that I swore they sold simply to keep bored children amused (and it worked … for a further 10 minutes) and the rest of the time was spent with my sister and I moaning ‘How much longer? This is boring!’.
And now here I am! History is indeed repeating itself.
Apparently my mother announced to her mother when she was in her 20’s that she was never going to have a garden. Gardens had dirt and bugs. These two things were certainly not her cup of tea being the ultra feminine girly girl that she was!
I followed suit with that sentiment.
Likewise I was never going to get into gardening. Plants and I were not great friends. I once was given an indoor pot plant and it grew and grew. Rather than die it was the plant that never stopped growing. One day my father-in-law found me trimming it back. I was cutting the ‘sticks’ sticking out of the pot that turned out to be the roots of the plant that were growing out of the pot because the pot was way too small to accommodate it! I’m happy to say that it survived and lives on in my mother-in-laws house (after my father-in-law removed it from my care) taking up one whole wall of their bedroom all the way to the ceiling! It’s a mega plant.
I did that.
We lived in our house for years without planting anything except some sad looking pot plants that never took off. Then last year I suddenly got the bug. I wanted trees. And flowers. Lots and lots of pretty flowers!
That’s right folks! I discovered Pinterest! Hundreds of gorgeous pictures of beautiful English gardens full of flowers. I wanted one. And so I set to work making one.
My husband didn’t want a bar of it so I was on my own. I got out there over summer and I dug my own garden right out of the lawn and I planted it all by myself.
As you can see, I learnt a thing or two in the process that I will now share with you my dear eager new gardening pal, you!
Here are some do’s and dont’s for starting your first garden, all of which I have learnt from experience!
All those don’ts? I did. All those do’s? I didn’t.
Don’t make the same mistake! Or you too will be the proud owner of a weed riddled, pumpkin infested spider garden!
THE DO’S AND DON’TS LIST FOR A NEWBIE GARDENER
DO properly dig the ground where you want your garden to go, removing all of the lawn and weeds to a decent depth to allow topping up with a good compost. I know it’s boring and you just want to go shopping for the fun part but it’s important because all those plants? They won’t grow if the soil is crap.
DON’T cut corners and think ‘she’ll do’. This will come back to bite you in the ass.
DO put down weed mat. DO PUT DOWN WEED MAT! Oh how I wish I could go back and fix this dreadful new timer mistake! You can also put down cardboard or newspaper under layers of soil to stop the weeds. I didn’t do this. Big mistake #1!
DO put bark or stones or something in the garden to keep it easy care. Like this (my one garden that I did right the first time!)
DON’T rush out and buy heaps of plants just because you think they look pretty. Do your research first. Know how big they grow and what type of garden they suit. Buying the wrong plants is an expensive lesson to learn. Yep, mistake #2! I had no idea and wasted so much money on unsuitable plants that didn’t last longer than a month.
DO know the difference between evergreen and deciduous; perennial, biennial and annual. Here’s a brief outline for ya:
- Evergreen: An evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year, always green.
- Deciduous: A plant that completely loses their foliage during the winter
- Perennial: A perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years. Some of these plants will die away in Winter but return the following Spring.
- Biennial: A plant which blooms in its second year and then dies.
- Annual: An annual plant is a plant that completes its life cycle, from germination to the production of seed, within one year, and then dies. Summer annuals germinate during spring or early summer and mature by autumn of the same year.
DO buy gardening gloves. Getting dirt out from under your nails is a bitch!
DON’T go overboard and dig a huge garden or multiple gardens straight away! Start small.
DO realise that gardens have bugs living in them. Spiders, worms, creatures you have probably never seen before. If you have boys then be aware that they quite like to chase you with worms because that’s their gig. If you live in Australia then some of these things may actually kill you.
If you are wanting trees then DO buy them and plant them first. We waited 8 years to plant our trees! 8 years of growing time down the drain.
DO buy shrubs! Again, some may consider them boring but bigger shrubs behind the pretty flowers look way better than no shrubs.
DON’T be afraid of wasting money on annuals! I had it in my head to only buy perennials because spending money on annuals only for them to die after 6 months seemed dumb. But annuals grow easily and flower profusely compared to perennials and buying in punnets of 6-8 is cheap and they put on a great show!
DON’T ignore the weeds. Just don’t. We live across the road from a farm in a windy coastal area and by god do we get weeds. So many weeds! I ignored them all winter and now I have a gigantic mess on my hands.
DO know the difference between what is a weed and what is an edible fancy lettuce. DON’T taste the weed to see if it’s actually a lettuce. They taste the same. If in doubt DON’T eat it.
DO know that pumpkins grow HUGE. Plant pumpkin seeds in moderation. Do not plant the seeds of an entire pumpkin unless you want to strangle your garden with vines.
DO start with container gardening and buy good potting mix. I wish I had started and stopped with pots sometimes! The containers on my deck are all going really well this year and I love pottering around in them, combining flowers to fill them to overflowing and bring some greenery and colour to my outdoor living.
DON’T decide that you think you can recreate a dry creek bed just because they look awesome on Pinterest.
DON’T plant in the vicinity of small children. Those flowers you just planted? They’ll be pulled back out in 3 … 2 … 1. ‘I helping mummy garden! See!’ *Little hands proudly holding up the plants you just spent an hour planting*
And that my friends is about it for now! I hope this helps some newly budding gardener somewhere somehow!
Are you into gardening? Would you agree with my list? Does you garden currently look like mine?
Linking up with #IBOT @ Essentially Jess