With a patchy winter now all but behind us, it’s soon going to be time to get back out into the garden, if you haven’t already. We approached 17 renowned gardeners from the both UK and around the world to see what hints, tips and advice they might have for new gardeners.
17 Renowned Gardeners Reveal Their Best Advice for Beginners
With a patchy winter now all but behind us, it’s soon going to be time to get back out into the garden, if you haven’t already. And the new Spring always brings with it new gardeners keen to decorate and invigorate their outdoor spaces. The benefits of gardening are well-documented (including both physical and mental wellbeing) and our personal green spaces are highly valuable to us, providing a place for gentle exercise and relaxation, as well as being a welcome alternative to the man-made world, a place to connect with nature.
Unfortunately though, there are many of us who don’t make use of our back-garden, yard, balcony or any kind of outdoor space we have, but wish they did. As with anything new, the key is taking that first step and beginning the learning process, and sometimes the best way to get that motivational kick is to speak to the experts and hear what they have to say about beginning something as a rookie – after all, they were all rookies too one day. For this reason we approached 17 renowned gardeners from both the UK and around the world to see what hints, tips and advice they might have for newbie gardeners. The question we asked was simply:
“If you could give a rookie gardener one expert tip, what would it be?”
Christine Walkden | christinewalkden.com | @ChristineWalkd
"My tip would be Don't give up. If it does not work the first time, give it another go.""My tip would be Don't give up. If it does not work the first time, give it another go."
John Stirland | @johnstirland
"Get to know your soil, its structure and particularly its pH. This is vital if you are going to get the very best out of your soil and the plants that you grow within it. Also how to improve your soil and its nutrients to suit as wide a range of plants as you wish to grow."
Claudia de Yong | claudiadeyongdesigns.com | @thegardenspot
"I would say that if you are starting afresh and gardening is new to you, it can be quite daunting and the best thing to do is to visit as many open gardens locally as you can. This not only gives you a good idea of what grows well in other people's garden soil but also valuable tips and helpful advice is often on hand. Many operate under the National Garden Scheme throughout the year. Gardening is all about trial and error and patience but you need to enjoy it and you will soon reap the rewards, get fit and have valuable flora and fauna, bees and insects."
Nick Moyle | twothirstygardeners.co.uk | @ThirstyGardener
"Don't fear failure. Not all plants will thrive in your garden, and it's not always obvious why. You're bound to get a few failures along the way so have fun trying several things and you'll soon start to learn what suits your garden, and your gardening style. "gardening style."
Sarah Raven | sarahraven.com | @srkitchengarden
"Sow seeds. That gives you confidence and - as they’re cheap - it does not matter if it goes wrong. Choose a sunny spot, rake over the soil, add some grit and sow something easy such as cosmos or Salvia viridis ‘Blue’. That will hopefully launch you into loving gardening and feeling brave enough to get stuck in. That’s what happened to me."
Mark Ridsdill Smith | verticalveg.org.uk | @VerticalVeg
"Start with something easy that will give you a great result in just a few weeks. I always recommend pea shoots because they taste delicious, they are hard to buy in the shops and you'll get a crop in just three weeks. You can read more about how to grow them here: http://www.verticalveg.org.uk/how-to-grow-pea-shoots/ "
Alexandra Campbell | themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk | @midsizegarden
"My one tip would be: get to know one plant at a time. If you love roses, for example, stick to rose buying and finding out what roses like. Then perhaps move onto hydrangeas or dahlias. I have one friend who is not interested in gardening at all, but her garden looks wonderful because she fills it almost exclusively with hydrangeas and fuschias."
Ramon Gonzalez | mrbrownthumb.blogspot.co.uk | @MrBrownThumb
"Start a garden at the end of the season. It may seem counterintuitive, but it makes the most sense financially. The end of the garden season has the best deals on plants and supplies. Trees, shrubs, and perennials can be found dirt cheap and can be planted up until fall. Once you have the bones of your garden established you can fill in next year with annuals and other temporary plants. Late summer and early fall are also great times to buy tools, lumber, and other hard goods needed for garden projects."
Ivette Soler | thegerminatrix.com | @thegerminatrix
"Be bold. Be your own expert. Learn everything you can about the specific conditions of your space, and then start playing and experimenting. No two gardens are alike as far as microclimate and soil condition goes, so your space is unique and you are the one that will make it flourish. Educate yourself and then play! Nothing inspirational comes from slavishly following a set of rules. I find that the best landscapes are made with a hefty dose of rebellion thrown into the process of designing."
Matthew Biggs | matthewbiggs.com | @plantmadman
"Most important- think everything out three times, measure up at least twice then do it once, properly."
Nadine Pierce | apentlandgarden.com | @nadinepierce
"Get out and experiment but do pay attention to what your plants like in terms of soil/location etc to save on potentially costly mistakes."
Roger Doiron | kgi.org | @rogerdoiron
"All good gardens start with a plan. Whether you're growing a small herb garden or a garden big enough to feed your family, you need to think first about the space needed and how you'll use that space effectively and efficiently. If you're a pencil and paper type of person, you can make a simple sketch of your plot and draw what will go where. If you're a complete beginner or someone who feels comfortable with technology, you might want to consider using an online garden planner that takes some of the guesswork out of the planning process and remembers for you what your brain may otherwise forget."
Jekka McVicar | jekkasherbfarm.com | @JekkaMcVicar
"When growing Basil, always water in the morning and never at night."
Paul Hervey-Brookes | paulherveybrookes.com | @herveybrookes
"Experiment, the worst that can happen is the plant doesn't grow but chances are you will have more successes than failures and learn a huge amount through your endeavors which is the best encouragement possible."which is the best encouragement possible."
Chris Collins | chriscollins.org.uk | @cmcollins_hort
"Make sure you have a decent compost bin as soil health is of the upmost in this game."
Nic J | journeysandjonquils.blogspot.co.uk | @ChristineWalkd
"Settle on routines for your gardening tasks. Pick a day each week to do all your fertilizing, dates by which to begin and complete seasonal tasks. Developing such habits will help you stay on top of your gardening tasks, but also keep you from fussing too much over one thing.."
Bob Flowerdew | bobflowerdew.co.uk | @FlowerdewBob
"If things don’t work out, learn from it and try again - that’s how you gain experience."
...Do you have any advice or pearls of wisdom for beginner gardeners? Let us know in the comments below!