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What I've learned from a weekend in the garden

Posted on 16 May 2016

Since joining Groundwork I’ve read reports, watched case studies and seen first-hand the positive effects that come from having a treasured greenspace.  

My personal treasured greenspace is my garden. But aside from watering and the odd bit of planting, I’ve never officially got to grips with it. I’ve written lists, I’ve made plans but I’ve never allowed myself to take full control. So last weekend I decided it was time I start learning how to make a garden that looked great but was also simple and economical to maintain.

It was a daunting prospect but fortunately I had my mum on hand to help, something I was very thankful for.

Here are the top 15 things I learnt last weekend…

1.    It’s important to ‘dead head’ flowers so that new buds can sprout – apparently it’s no good just watering the dead flower and hoping for the best. Who knew!

2.    Lopping giant bushes is hard work – but worth it 

3.    A cuppa tea can get you through anything. Especially when you pick up a stinger and your gloves are next to useless. Ouch. 

4.    Speaking of gloves, make sure you wear durable ones or mud will still seep through and you will end up scrubbing your finger nails raw afterwards – I learnt the hard way

5.    However, if you own a cat or live in an area where cats like to utilise your lawn for their own means then any type of glove is your best friend…

6.    ‘Edging’ and digging out flower beds makes your calves ache more than any Zumba class can

7.    You can use the leaves from the Bay Tree's for cooking – turns out they are more than just a pretty leaf 

8.    Cuttings from friends and families are a great way of saving money and having a fab garden. 

9.    A hanging basket is a new gardeners best friend – simple, yet so effective

10.  It’s best to water plants early evening/at night as the sun will sup up the water during the day

11.  Don’t worry about having mud on your face…and on arms and behind your ears. It’s a sign of a job well done

12.  Lobelia does have a tendency to look like cress before it starts to flower, but don't panic! It's nothing a little patience won’t solve

13.  Lavender is a great plant for attracting butterflies

14.  Gardening is the perfect way to joyfully wave a trowel and say ‘hiya!’ to neighbours as they walk past

15.  The giant ‘flower’ I’ve been watering in the garden for the past two months is in fact a weed. Oops.

A project to dig my spade in to 

It was a great Saturday and since, I’ve found myself glancing out the window to check that my marigolds are all in a row. I'm offically addicted.  

Spending a whole day in the garden has made me want to be outside more. It’s made me want to learn more tricks of the trade and skills to make my garden even better. I now have a project I can really dig my spade in to.   

Most importantly, it’s made me see that I don’t actually have to do it all alone. In fact – it’s far more fun to have a gardening partner. It gave me a great insight into just how much fun community gardens must be and how great it is to be working hard yet having a chat at the same time.

Access to green spaces and nature-based activities can have life-changing effects on the wellbeing of people of all ages and backgrounds and not only improves your physical well-being, but your mental well-being also. It’s something that Groundwork has championed for 35-years. It’s vital that we all have access to a greenspace to call our own.

For me, the tricky part starts now…keeping it all alive!  My watering can is definitely my new best friend.

Who knows, maybe that strawberry plant will be growing sooner than I imagined. Watch this (green) space! 

Watch Irene's story below to see why her community garden is her treasured greenspace.

Post by Stacey Aplin, PR and Communications Officer

Groundwork UK