Guest author: Cat Jackson
of The Mindful Florist
Facebook and Instagram @themindfulflorist
With spring well and truly here, the bulbs are springing to life in everyone’s garden, a dull shrub I’ve observed on a dog walk month after month, week after week is almost suddenly overnight filled with colour. The birds are chatting, the butterflies are doing spot-checks around the garden and hedgehogs are holding regular meetings chatting tales of hibernation. Spring has arrived.
In this crazy and bizarre time in our life, more of us than ever are retreating to our gardens, patios or balconies. A space that we are appreciating more now than we probably ever have.
Our green spaces provide us with an at home opportunity to connect with nature, listen to the birds, watch things grow, sit mindfully and admire the seasons change. I know from my own experience that my garden here in Yorkshire has carried me through a whole host of different emotions since I moved here two years ago. I venture out and potter when I feel incredibly happy and content, but I also explore the garden when I am feeling confused, worn out, tired and most certainly when I am sad. It’s my little place to escape to, retreat to and always gives me a wonderful opportunity to admire the natural beauty it has to offer. In this last month I have been out there every day, doing one thing or another, it’s so satisfying to see everything evolve and change.
In this article, I am going to share my top 10 tips for enjoying your garden in this uncertain time.
Reconnect with your green space
Firstly, I would encourage you to take time to really notice your garden from lots of different angles and different times of that day if you can. Quite often we gravitate towards that same seat positioned in that same old trusty way. Have a go at turning that seat around and notice your garden in a different way with a new perspective. Observe where the light hits it, observe any bees or bugs that have found a home in your garden. Where are they gravitating too? Take time to look at anything that is thriving in your garden.
My go-to at this time of year would be sunflowers. Sunflowers are exceptionally low maintenance. I planted mine two weeks ago and they’re already 3 inches tall. I started them off inside on a window ledge to protect them while they are so delicate but give it a couple of weeks maybe a month and I shall plant them outside. As time goes on you may need a cane or a stick to help support their stems and heavy heads, but boy when they bloom they will have you smiling all day long. The bees will go bonkers for them and what’s more the seeds from the flower heads perched on top of a wall will feed the birds long in to autumn.
Sweet smelling Sweet Peas
If you would like flowers that you can keep cutting all through the summer that will fill your home with a lovely fragrance, then look no further than the sweet pea. If you are looking for something that smells positively delightful and maintenance-wise needs nothing more than tying up after a growth spurt and cutting weekly to encourage more flowers to grow, then get your sweet peas sewn soon. I start mine in compost filled toilet roll tubes, with the amount of toilet paper people have been buying lately these surely shouldn’t be sought after! Again, I personally like to start these off indoors. Many will suggest soaking your sweet peas for 24hours – however I have had great success planting directly out the packet. Once they start to grow and get to about 4 inches high I pinch out the top to encourage more shoots to grow. I then plant outside and against a trellis or in a pot with a frame or canes positioned in a tepee like fashion. Keep watering as they are thirsty little fellas. Once you see the first few flowers emerge and start to bloom, snip them off and pop in a vase to encourage more growth for next week. Keep doing that all the way through summer for a bloom filled house and garden.
Ok, so it’s kinda like a gardening swear word. Nobody likes them, they will have almost suddenly appeared out of nowhere, most likely everywhere. This last month has been lovely and mild and they will be prospering. However, now is a great opportunity to get on top of the weeds in your garden. Weeds and the flowers on weeds are the first bit of food that the lovely Bees get to tuck in to, usually in late winter early spring, so I always tend to leave them until about now when the daffs and tulips have popped up to provide food for the bees instead. I would always encourage natural ways to combat weeds as opposed to dosing your garden to the brim with any weed-killer; it’s much kinder to your garden, your pets and the native insects and birds that roam your garden. That said its harder work but a nice mindful moment you can take to distract yourself from work or anything else that’s on your mind. I like to use this helpful guide to identify weeds. Remember to bag up your weeds or pop in your garden waste-bin; the last thing you want is to add them to your compost bin for them to make themselves back in your flower beds in a few months time.
One of the easiest vegetables to grow in your garden, sew now and you’ll reap the benefits way in to September. Spag bols, Vegi chilli, courgette crisps, spicy chutney and stuffed and baked marrows, you name it – your menu will be full for weeks.
Paint that shed or fence
Now is a perfect time to paint or repaint that shed or fence. Not only will it protect the wood and make it last longer you also have the opportunity to add in a little splash of colour, seaside theme, rainbow or traditional brown – whatever you go for it will be a job well done and one you will thank yourself for come the winter.
Instant splashes of colour
Bedding plants can provide instant colour in while you await seedlings to germinate or beds to be prepared. Bedding plants are perfect for window boxes or hanging baskets. You see all those beautiful rainbows hand drawn in lots of people’s windows at the moment, you can recreate your own rainbow, pretty cheaply and with minimal maintenance. A regular water is all they will need.
Dead-heading the Daffs
Believe it or not, I’m sure you will have noticed on the footpaths and maybe in your garden too that some of the daffodils have started to go over. Dead heading these once they’ve got that slightly crispy look and the colour has faded will help your garden no end and allow the bulbs to store up energy ready for next year’s flowers. Leave the foliage to turn yellow until you cut that off.
Pruning the Hydrangea
If you have a Hydrangea, now is an ideal time to cut it back to encourage lots of new growth and big blousy blooms. Once the hydrangea has bloomed this summer you can cut back some of the flowers and store in a vase autumn through to winter for a splash of long lasting moody toned petals.
The Bug Hotel
This is my favourite make in the garden, and one that washes any potential OCD tendencies right out the window! Basically, any old bits of bark or tree cuttings, dead leaves can constitute the perfect bug hotel. Add a little dish with some water in it and this is the perfect haven for the caterpillars, woodlice, spiders and maybe the odd hedgehog too.
Last but not least, the horticulture industry is taking a huge battering at the moment, many garden centres have had to shut and many wholesale nurseries are having to adapt and evolve to meet the demand. Gardening and being out in your garden is so good for your mental health and I do worry about all of those individuals who are suffering from the isolation that this has brought upon them.
I would encourage anybody to try their best to check in on your friends regularly at the moment and support your local nursery as much as you possibly can. Also, if you have a seedling or two spare – why not drop one round to a friend or neighbours house – it might be just what they need! I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and however you choose to spend time in your garden, just enjoy it – there is beauty to be found everywhere.
Lots of love and best wishes,
Please find below some of my recommendations of where to buy plants, seedlings and gardening tools.
Chiltern Seeds https://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/
Picked at Dawn https://www.pickedatdawn.co.uk/
Great Dixter https://www.greatdixter.co.uk/nursery/
Higgledy Garden https://higgledygarden.com/shop/
Bluebell Nursery https://www.bluebellnursery.com/
Don’t forget you can follow Cat on Facebook and Instagram @themindfulflorist!
#springgarden #lockdowngardening #smallthings