Starting out in any new hobby can be pretty daunting and gardening is no exception! I
remember when walking around B&Q in Wandsworth trying to find plants for my tiny courtyard and window boxes in Brixton and feeling totally overwhelmed. It's not cheap either!
I'd plant things in the shade that would die because they needed full sun, I'd forget to water my little pots and they'd shrivel up, and I never knew which ones were going to come back and which weren't. So when they died back in winter I'd just pull them all up and start all over again next year. Sound familiar?
So I've written my top five tips gardening tips for beginners that I wish I'd known back then.
The cheapest (and most satisfying) way of filling your garden with lovely plants is to grow your own. To fill a even a small flower bed with the amount of flowers you'd need to create a lovely display can cost hundreds of pounds. Also buying from a garden centre when the plants are in full bloom means less time flowering in your garden.
You can start most flower seeds off 'under cover' in February/March time and with lockdown being what it is, there is no excuse not to give this a go.
You don't have to have a greenhouse either. There are some very good mini greenhouses online or a sunny window will work just fine. Using just three seed trays, some compost and vermiculite you can grow hundreds of flowers, and if you pick the right ones, you can take cuttings from these to create even more.
Think carefully about pots. I am a HUGE fan of a lovely pot and I have a whole patio full of lovely colourful containers which I switch up every year.
Just remember that the smaller the pot the more often you will need to water in the summer. Even the most experienced gardeners get sucked into buying gorgeous little terracotta pots filled with Erigeron daisies for the outside dining table but if you forget to water on a hot day, you've had it.
Unlike plants in the ground, who's roots can go deeper to find water, plants in pots will die unless they are watered every day in hot weather. Hydrangeas are the worse for it (see poor dead plant baby above!)
Don't plant into rubbish soil. Planting into poor quality soil is a bit like feeding your children McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner and wondering why they don't look very healthy! Poor soil can be rock hard, dusty and light brown whereas good quality soil is dark brown, crumbly and rich looking. If you don't have good soil you can remove the poor soil and replace with soil improver to give your plants the best chance of surviving.
Lots more of this in my video course 'Beginner's Guide to Growing A Cut Flower Garden.'
Snails are your nemesis and I find that chucking them over the fence and hoping for the best does't work. Honestly, I have tried. I'm a HUGE animal and nature lover but these things will undo months of growing and nurturing in one sitting. They will decimate your whole garden unless you manage them and there are lots of ways of doing this which I'll have to cover in another blog in the spring!
Just because something does't grow, it doesn't mean you are rubbish at gardening. 'Trowel and error' is one of my mantras and sometimes we will never know why one set of seeds with germinate whilst another set don't. Keep learning, experimenting and growing and your future self will thank you for it when you're sat amongst a beautiful flower garden.
My video course 'Beginner's Guide to Growing a Cut Flower Garden' comes with every Dahila Beach collection so that you'll have everything you need at the click of a mouse. It's engaging, motivational and achievable so there is no excuse for putting on a beautiful garden anymore!