Preparing Your Garden For Spring

It has to be said that after a pretty disappointing Summer, September and October proved to be surprisingly mild, which meant there were further opportunities to sit in and enjoy our gardens. But with November we have the first frosts and temperatures that are only in single figures, and are dropping to freezing in the evening, it is safe to say that our gardens are going to see less use over the next couple of months. And this means now is the time to prepare our garden for the Spring by packing up the remnants of our Summer garden, and planning for the new features that will take their place come March/April.

Pack Away

The first thing to do is to pack away the things in your garden that can be wrecked and ruined by the cold weather. Garden furniture needs to be packed away, particular parasols, covered in protective plastic and stored in garden sheds. Ceramic planters can crack when the weather turns colder, so these need to be cleaned, with dead plants composted and the planters stored away ready for next year. Children’s garden toys will also be better stored away, although things like goalposts may still be used through the winter months, after all the Premier and football leagues currently play all through Winter, so these can be left, especially if they are weather proof Samba style goals.

Protecting Perennial Plants

Some plants are perennials, meaning that they come back year after year. These plants need protecting as they go into hibernation, particularly as you want them to come back next year.

Cut them back when the weather starts to turn colder and then mulch the soil to provide a protective covering. This should ensure the perennial plants come back stronger and healthier in the New Year.

Thinking ahead to Next Spring

Whilst everyone else is looking towards Christmas, it is actually the perfect time to invest in items like garden furniture and garden gazebos. Many of these items have big discounts during late Autumn and Winter, which means you can get something that could be practical in your Spring garden, or could completely change the look of it, at a very big discount.

Most garden gazebos will come packed well and are easy to store during the Winter months, but could also be used as a smoking shelter if you decide to have a party on New Year’s Eve and don’t want smoking in your home.

Another item that you can store for warmer days but can be picked up as a bargain now is a barbecue.  When Summer comes the price of these rise dramatically, particularly if we have a heatwave, but in Winter you can pick barbecues up so much cheaper and can simply store them in your shed or outhouse.

Despite the fact that it is now cold and is bound to get even colder, now is the time to look at your garden, see what you need to pack away, and then be forward thinking in your plans for 2018. When you are sitting in the Spring sunshine, admiring the perennials that have returned and enjoying the comfort of your new garden furniture, you will be glad you did.

Making the Most of your Garden this Summer

Although the great British Summer is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to the weather, the warm, sunny spells we’ve been having recently does give us a chance to make the most of our garden or outdoor space, whilst we can.  Due to being neglected during the winter months and the lack of sunshine we get in the summertime, many people are unsure how to make the most of their gardens when it begins to warm up. The thought of cutting bushes, potting plants and mowing lawns can be pretty daunting to some and many of us don’t have the money to go all out on the garden furniture, the built in BBQ’s and the hot tubs, but there are definitely simpler ways of enjoying the outdoors during a rare bit of British heat.

 

Dining Alfresco

No matter how big or small your garden is, when the sun is shining there is nothing better than taking your dinner to eat outside, with a nice cold drink. Whether you set out the table with a range of salads, cold meats and bread, or simply just cook your dinner inside and bring it out, there is something about dining alfresco that soothes the soul. If you haven’t already, it is definitely well worth investing in some garden furniture. It doesn’t have to break the bank, it can even be a simple little wooden or plastic set for two, but sitting out and eating at night, or enjoying a nice brew in the fresh morning sun is definitely a great way to utilise your outdoor space.

BBQ Time

BBQ it up

Following on from my last point, eating outside in the warm weather is a dream, and cooking in it is also a great change. You might already have a fancy BBQ where you can cook all kinds of fancy and yummy meats and fish, but even if you just buy a small, disposal one and cook a few sausages, it still counts! Everyone loves a hot dog so bbq’ing on a budget can be a simple task and a great excuse to get the family and friends together. ‘Build your own buns’ are a great, purse-friendly way to feed the five thousand. Cook a load of sausages on the BBQ, give everyone a hot dog bun and set out different ‘stations’ for the toppings (onions, mustard, ketchup, beef chilli etc). Fill a bucket with some ice and beers and voila! Everyone is happy – except maybe the veggies but there is always Quorn for that!

Get the Essentials

One of the great things about hot, summer days is sitting out late into the night and it still feeling warm (ish). However, if you want to make a habit of this (or do it as often as possible) there are some essentials that you will need to invest in. First of all, some outdoor lighting, from fitted lights with sensors to solar powered lamps, your lighting options depend on your budget and the size of your garden – so get researching! Secondly, small, mini fire pits are a great way to keep everyone outside once the sun goes down. You can buy them from major supermarkets for next to nothing and sitting around a campfire either toasting marshmallows or playing a few games is a welcome change from the TV indoors! Thirdly, bug spray – because they always try to spoil the fun.

Grow some Goodness!

You don’t need a huge space to grow a little of your own fruit and veggies this summer. A lot of us have been meaning to try this for ages but never get round to it – so now is your chance! Find a raised patch of soil and get planting some summer seeds. Nothing more rewarding than enjoying a salad with tomatoes you’ve grown yourself or a crumble with freshly picked raspberries and blackberries! You’ll be a domestic goddess in no time.

Outdoor Games

If you have grass in your garden, there is nothing better than a few good old fashioned games with family and friends to while away the hours. The games you can play even with just a single ball are endless and I’m sure everyone will enjoy unlocking their inner child for a good game of Piggy in the Middle – especially after a few drinks! A cricket set or a Rounder’s bat also cos very little from budget stores and can provide hours of (competitive) fun. If you’re more civilised or simply a little restricted on space, a pack of cards outside is the perfect entertainment!

Can you Guess the Flowers?

There is nothing like the look and scent of fresh flowers in your home. They are just wonderful for creating an ambiance, for bringing a touch of Spring, or a look of your garden inside your home, and they add an affordable attractiveness and elegance to any setting. Whether this is in the form of freshly cut blooms grown in your own garden, or shop bought bunches and bouquets, flowers add prettiness, colour and stunning fragrance to any room they grace.

But, when it comes to flowers, how many types of flowers can you actually name? I’m guessing that you will not have any trouble with roses, tulips and daffodils, you can probably also spot something very iconic like a Calla Lily, but what about other varieties? Can you spot a Chrysanthemum from a Petunia, or a Begonia from a Carnation? If you have flowers growing in your garden, it is crucial that you know and recognise them in order that you give them the right conditions to grow – the right soil, the amount of sunlight they prefer, all this is important to get the most from your shrubs.

Rattan Direct have recently put together a brilliant little quiz which tests your knowledge of plants and flowers and looks at how many you can actually recognise. The quiz is designed to find out whether you , in their words, ‘…need to swat up some more on your blooms, or whether you are already a bloomin’ expert gardener!’

You can find the quiz here and give yourself a fun test. You may just discover that you are a new Alan Titchmarsh or Charlie Dimmock, or, like me, you may need to brush up your knowledge to ensure you are getting the best from your garden and growing the most beautiful blooms.

Enjoy!