Understanding your garden

Why it’s important to understand your garden:

I’m a sucker for garden makeover programmes. By the end of an hour, when Charlie Dimmock or Alan Titchmarsh has transformed the garden – and lives – of a well-deserving family, I’m usually blowing my nose and wiping away tears of joy.

But it’s not very realistic. The idea of blitzing a garden in a few days and then having something that’s ‘finished’ doesn’t really work in the long term. That’s because plants aren’t static: they are living things that grow and change, and have very clear likes and dislikes. So what looks good at the end of the makeover programme might not in a couple of years’ time, when that tiny shrub has grown to a monster, or that lovely flower has died because it was in the wrong place or became a tasty treat for your slugs.

Being a gardener means understanding the space you have, and knowing which plants will thrive there. Gardens are not static and your garden will never be finished – it’s an iterative process. Each year you’ll find things you need to change: plants that would do better somewhere else; a space that needs filling; a new idea for that difficult flowerbed. The joy of gardening is all about change. Gardening is a journey not a destination!

So, before we look at what you want from your garden, we need to understand what sort of garden you’ve got. We’re going to start by looking at some of the topics below:

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