The rain fell in buckets for about 10 minutes Friday afternoon/evening. I drank it up (not literally, but many deep breaths were inhaled and exhaled with a smile on my face, eyes closed and head tilted to the sky in gratitude).
Now, as I type, the rain has abated, the sun has broken through, the birds are busily gathering at the cafe and the garden plants around Le Papillon appear brighter, perhaps happier, dare I say?
As this post will be going live on the blog on Saturday, each Saturday morning for nearly nine months, you will find me watching Gardeners’ World hosted currently by Monty Don (watch on BritBox if you don’t live in Britain). Earlier this spring I shared a post detailing reasons I adore this show and think TSLL readers may enjoy it as well whether they are a gardener or not. Today, however, as I have a feeling many of you are watching GW this weekend as well, I wanted to share with you 15 gardening lessons I have learned (far from all of the lessons I have learned) by watching the show for only just the past 14 months.
1.A little bit every week, and every day if possible
The gift of a garden is that it is a hobby, a passion and one that is at our fingertips every day of the year. Even in the winter months, we can be planning, shopping for seeds, and assessing, letting our minds dream. I will admit that when school picked up full swing, I have missed being able to tinker away in the garden for 30 minutes to an hour every day as spring began, which made me appreciate my time in my garden all the more; however, when the weekend arrives, I can easily spend an entire day, at the very least a half a day outside in the garden – and it is one of the best things I do when it comes to savoring the everyday. Not only do I relax, but I am present, fully. I see progress nearly immediately, I am able to chat with my neighbors a bit if I am out front in my front garden or boulevard, and the boys get to be outside as well. Absolute joy is felt, and it is less about the end result and more about the journey of nurturing something which teaches patience, appreciation and a reminder not to be disappointed when something doesn’t work, but rather appreciate the learning lesson and apply it moving forward.
As I shared in this post last year, our gardens can teach us so much about how to live an incredibly contented life.
2. Growing from seed makes the garden more personalized, fuller each season and is far less expensive
Last year, I shared this post – 12 Simple Steps for Success when Sowing Your Own Seeds
This year, I sowed not only herbs, but lettuce, pumpkins, courgettes, cosmos, nasturtiums, tomatoes and a handful of other plants as I am determined to boost my grown-at-home food and discover how to use the boulevards I have (which are significant in size and south facing) to their fullest potential .
3. Add some Viburnum to the garden for seasonal color beginning in spring and changing from white blossoms in May to brilliant red/rust leaves in the fall.
I ordered and planted a Viburnum (there are many varietals) last spring in front of my porch, and it has done well. Last fall, its leaves turned a beautiful rusty-red which added some color to a garden in which the blooms of the roses and annuals were nearly done. As it grows in size, I look forward to it providing more structure and offering even more of its background color and foliage.
4. Snowdrops – add them and separate them each year
As I shared in May’s A Cuppa Moments, my snowdrops came up AFTER my daffodils, but they did still come up and there were gorgeous in all of their delicate white and green beauty.
5. Gardening without a dog or a cat just isn’t as much fun
Norman and Oscar are in their elder years which makes them the calmer, wiser men than in their swiftly moving younger years. They will sit next to me, greet the neighbors as I work in front of my house or lay down next to me when I am working at my potting table. One spot Norman especially enjoys is our garden porch (where he is seen in this photo), as I can lounge on my chair (not pictured), and he can bask in the sunshine whilst taking in the fresh air and watching the birds and the neighbors go about their day.
6. Take cuttings from your favorite plants
I have not done a lot of this yet, but I am excited to try on a few of my salvia later this year as the deer won’t eat it and the color is magnificent in late spring. Seen below is one of my more mature salvia just beginning to come into full bloom. Now that I know how from Carol Klein’s many teachings (and Monty’s too), I feel confident I can do it.
7. Don’t use peat!
I appreciate Monty’s approach to the garden – organic, working with nature instead of fighting it, as well as conserving when it comes to avoiding the use of peat in compost. It can be tempting to use unnatural sprays and weed killers, but ultimately we are killing the very things we need for our garden to grow – the soil and the bugs and insects within the soil. We simply need to learn how it works best and feed the soil what it wants, take the time to be outside in it and let Mother Nature work her magic.
8. Rhubarb is wonderful steamed with yogurt – Monty inspired this recipe last spring
9. Alliums, the star of the late spring garden and capable of spreading their seed and increasing your allium display each year.
10. Create and plan and name different areas of your overall garden
Even on my small property which is minuscule compared to Monty’s Longmeadow, I have a kitchen garden, a sunshine garden, a rockery, a vegetable garden, the boulevard, a rose garden and a mini woodland garden. Now all of these distinct boundaries need not be known to onlookers, but it helps me in my planning and when I describe a space to those that know my garden or think about it my minds eye.
11. Add compost to your garden each spring and fall if possible
From giving nutrients to the soil, as well as helping with water retention and reducing weeds, adding compost to my garden (since I have lived in my home for just over 18 months, I have added compost three different times) has been the number one game-changer for my plants success as I am witnessing the positive change finally this year, as well as having to pull fewer weeds.
Spreading the compost around the yard is a good day’s work (and a hot bath at the end of that day is the best reward), but it is only twice a year, and it provides a year-round bounty of beauty and bountiful harvest.
12. Sorrel likes the shade more than the sun, even though it is often grown with herbs (most of which love the sun)
My sorrel made it through the winter, and is stronger than ever. while mine is currently on the south side of my house, I placed one plan (last year) in a shadier corner and it is quite happy, so we will see if I move the other one. However, so far, it is doing okay. Sorrel along with chervil are the two herbs I have to grow from seed as I cannot find them nurseries, but they are worth it.
13. Kiftsgate rambling rose – a wonderful rose to cover with small white blooms large expansive of area
Currently, my two Kiftsgate roses are petite, but I am determined to nurture them into their splendor and have them provide the foliage over my westside frence providing a backdrop to my garden porch and my three aspens which are planted in a rock terrace.
14. When to trim my cherry trees – late summer (thank you Carol Klein!)
15. Successional planting
This particular skill is at the top of my list to master, but it is complex and takes time as everything revolves around the climate zone we each live in. I am being patient with myself, observing what blooms when, and gradually adding a handful or more of the same plant to my boulevard to hopefully in 5-10 years time have color in the garden from late March to late October or early November. And with the addition of a few more coniferous shrubs and trees, maybe year-round.
As I shared at the top of this post, I could go on and on and on with this list of garden tips and lessons learned having watched Gardeners’ World. It is fun to reflect and remember, so I thoroughly enjoyed writing this post. One other tool I use, and I have read in the comments from past posts that many of you do as well, I keep a garden journal to keep track of the plants I plant and when, ideas I learn from the show, and anything else pertaining to the garden. It is my own little garden encyclopedia.
Thank you for stopping by to read today’s post, and please do share one or two gardening tips or lessons you have learned from the show. I’d love to learn from you as I have only watched a couple of seasons of GW. Wishing you a wonderful day and weekend in the garden, and enjoy watching this week’s Gardners’ World. 🙂
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