Seeking help and gaining knowledge.
There’s no doubt that gardening has undergone a cultural change. One would once experience gardening as part of a visit to a country house or a trip to the garden centre. It’s now moved away from being the preserve of the expert to the pursuit of everyman, meaning we can all get involved.
Seeking help and gaining knowledge before you wrench anything out of the ground that isn’t instantly recognisable as a weed, I think is a must. I’d whole-heartedly recommend involving or engaging with experienced gardeners be they professional or just enthusiasts. For Plum Tree Farm they have been invaluable, sharing their learnings and giving us that head start we needed. Having helping hands and brains to support our ideas and help expand our knowledge has reaped rewards.
With our garden overwhelming us, as well as the weeds, we realised we were a) starting at the wrong end of the process - pretty plants and trees without a plan and b) we needed more hands. We had wasted time and money in pursuit of a quick instant garden.
So we sceptically and slightly nervously decided to involve a garden designer. She listened and asked questions, keen to understand what we wanted from our garden, how we wanted to use it and never made us feel inadequate, even though at this stage we so obviously were.
She helped us initially plan the structure and layout of the garden taking our space as it was, looking at how the sun moved across it, wind direction, what animals inhabited it. How far were we prepared to change what we had? And of course introduced us to a wealth of plants.
We were encouraged to go on a local Orchard Management course which opened our eyes to the needs of the trees on our land and gave us confidence to restore our inherited neglected patients. How to prune, when to prune, if you don’t prune or if you don’t prune when you should prune, what happens. Fascinating! Caring for our trees is now one of the most rewarding things we do in our year. Our trees are part of a growing family, both planned and gifted.
We have also got to know a very talented tree surgeon who shimmies up and down any structure with the expert agility of a monkey. He has given us a head start with our trees and hedges, saved our magnificent Horse Chestnut from a lifetime of stress, and took us from a Leylandii world of darkness into a sunlit landscape that our entire garden now enjoys.
All have made such a difference to our understanding of gardening and the world around us. It was the best thing we ever did. Our learnings are vast, and they have taught us so much that we can now build on with confidence.
If you have a garden and are short of time but full of enthusiasm and ideas, I implore you to employ a garden designer to come and sketch out and share their knowledge. Penny Pritchard was and continues to be amazing and we couldn’t have done it without her and the team at Tony Benger. They looked at our space creatively and practically and set us off on an amazing gardening adventure. You may think you know what you want but a good garden designer embraces your ideas and throws in a sprinkling of magic. Thank you all… Penny Pritchard www.tonybenger.com