Jane McMorland Hunter & Chris Kelly, Teach Yourself Basic Gardening
2010, Hodder Education £8.99
The aim of this book is to teach you all the skills you need to create a garden you like and to enjoy working in it. Sitting in your garden and appreciating it is as important as weeding on your hands and knees.
The most important things to remember are that you should like your garden and that you should concentrate on the aspects of gardening that you enjoy. Chris has a reasonable-sized garden and devotes a large part of it to growing fruit and vegetables because that is what he enjoys. Jane’s garden is much smaller and in the city and her priority is having somewhere attractive to sit and eat outside – so it is crammed with two sets of tables and chairs (sun and shade), a summerhouse and masses of flowers in containers. Neither garden is better than the other but they are very different.
Work out what you have in your garden, decide what you would like and design it accordingly. This may sound over-simplified but that really is all there is to creating a garden you like. Whether you inherit an empty builders’ site or a lovely established garden you can alter it to suit you and your family. Don’t be afraid to change anything, once you are absolutely sure what you want. If in any doubt, wait a bit. No garden ever came to any real harm by being left for a while.
Gardens are made by their owners, even ‘wild’ gardens are actually created and controlled to a certain extent. Like everything else fashions in gardening come and go. Several years ago dahlias and chrysanthemums were sneered at, now they are all the rage, grasses were boring plants, now they are subtle, decking everywhere……no it isn’t any more. Look at all these ideas and decide what you truly like and what suits your way of life. That will make the best garden for you and your family. There are really no rights or wrongs in garden design; stand up for what you like.
The more you understand about gardening the easier it becomes. The theory of pruning may seem impenetrable but once you understand why you are pruning a plant (and that a few basic rules apply to most plants) it becomes much easier.
Finally, don’t worry too much. The lawn will survive a week uncut, a bit of greenfly doesn’t really matter. Give your plants the best home you can and enjoy yourself.