New Gardeners Start Here…

Some people are put off gardening because they think there are too many rules. They shouldn’t be. It’s true there is a lot to learn, in fact I don’t think that ever stops, but you don’t need to know everything at the outset. Half the fun is learning by your mistakes!

It’s probably best to start on a small scale like say growing some raspberry canes. They are available both bare-root and potted in garden centres at the minute. Before you buy, have a quick read about them on the internet. You’ll find there are two types; summer fruiting and autumn fruiting. The most important thing to know is that the summer fruiting varieties fruit on the canes produced last year. So once canes have fruited they can be cut back to base. The other non-fruiting canes will produce fruit next year so don’t cut these. Autumn fruiting varieties produce fruit on the current season’s growth so all the canes can be chopped to the ground in February. After a few seasons of delicious harvests this pruning becomes instinctive.

This knowledge is important when it comes to raspberries but sometimes it’s fun to break the rules and see what happens. Wallflowers are biennials - meaning basically they grow in year one and flower in year two. The seeds should be sown in April, grown all summer and planted out in their final position in the autumn for flowering the following spring. I forgot to sow in spring (enough other stuff going on in the garden) instead I started them in September, grew them on in a cold greenhouse until December. I planted them out in the first week of this year and they seem to be doing fine. Will they flower in spring? Who knows, but they’ll flower at some point.

And that’s another reason why newcomers shouldn’t be put off. Plants want to grow, flower and fruit. There is no alchemy involved in making it happen. So if you haven’t tried it just have a go and you’ll most likely find the words of the famous Victorian gardener Gertrude Jekyll will apply to you. “The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies.”