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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Greg Loades The Editor at The Alpine Garden Society

Five handy tips for starting a new garden

Greg Loades’ Garden in July 2018
I moved into a new house with a tiny backyard in February 2018, in Hull, UK. It was a blank canvas except for a poppy and a few stray bulbs that appeared in spring. The fun of starting a new, tiny garden from scratch is that you very quickly see results. Although you also very quickly run out of room too! 
I’m learning to change areas of planting each year to keep the garden interesting. I’m a ‘doing’ kind of gardener and I soon get itchy feet if there isn’t a small project to tackle in the garden!
Have you moved to a new garden and you don’t know where to start? If so, here are five tips for starting a new garden, based on my experiences of my tiny garden in Hull!


Be ruthless

If there is something that’s growing in your garden but you don’t like it then get rid of it! The plant may be beautiful in its own right but if you wouldn’t have chosen it and you don’t like the colour or the style of it then be ruthless! You may be able to give it away to a neighbour too. I had an red Oriental poppy that popped up in the first year after starting my garden. It was a nice plant but it was far too big for my garden and looked out of proportion. So I dug it up and planted something smaller in its place.


Start with the biggest plants

Make a list of the plants that you would like to grow and then seek out the biggest ones and the evergreens first. If you can position and plant these ‘backbone’ plants in the garden, it’s easy to fill in the remaining space with shorter, free-flowering plants that can ‘colour in’ the garden. Pay close attention to what the size of the plant is (check the label) and make sure you give it enough room


Don’t start digging until you’ve had a spring

If you take over a garden in the winter, then there is a chance that the garden is holding a treasure chest of plants below the soil surface. Herbaceous perennials (plants that die down in winter and grow back in spring) can take until mid spring to appear so leave the soil undisturbed until then to give them a chance. There may also be some beautiful bulbs still to emerge too.


Prioritise prominent areas

Check to see which parts of the garden are going to be viewed the most from the house and get these planted and organised first. Looking out of the window and seeing progress or transformation in the garden helps create an impetus and enthusiasm to tackle the rest of the garden.


Look at the surrounding gardens

Be nosy and have a good look at the plants that are growing very well in neighbouring gardens. This can give you an indication of what will do well in yours. If acid-loving camellias and rhododendrons are growing well, it is an indication that the soil is acidic. If you are not sure what the plants close by are, ask your neighbour if they know the name. Research the plants to see what makes them thrive and then you can look for plants that like similar conditions. Choosing plants that suit the growing conditions (soil, climate, aspect) that you have will make growing them much easier.

Greg Loades’ garden in July 2019

See more pictures and updates from the garden on Instagram @hull_urban_gardener

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