The spring is upon us and the early bloomers are out in force. In the last couple of weeks you’ve probably seen splashes of yellow in the country verges in the form of daffodils, a true sign that the weather is changing and the temperature is on the up.
We see daffodils as a bit of a sign; when they start to appear we know it’s time to start tending properly to our gardens ready for the summer. All three of our premises have expansive gardens. They take a lot of work, but they’re worth it; our residents derive such pleasure from helping us tend to them, walking around them and sitting in them.
They’re particularly important for residents with dementia. When we designed a new garden for Bartlett’s, we made sure that the transition from inside to outside is seamless and unthreatening, that there are no sudden ends to pathways and that there are lots of sights and smells to keep our dementia residents intrigued and entertained.
As we’re starting our gardening in the coming weeks, we thought this would be a good opportunity to present any keen gardeners reading this article with some of our top tips for a beautiful summer garden.
- Clear out your borders, hedges and greenhouse ready for your new plants and flowers. There’s nothing like a clean and clear garden to provide you with some inspiration.
- Look for any hibernating pests who might cause you difficulty later in the year by eating all your plants, such as slugs and snails. Clear out pots full of last year’s compost, as there may be pest hiding in the pot and feasting on old roots.
- Start planning for years to come by making a compost heap. You can buy a ready-made bin for cheap from a gardening centre, or you can construct one yourself by enclosing an area of your garden. Toss in vegetable waste, woody clippings, grass and paper. When it all breaks down you’ll have some excellent compost to plant future bulbs in.
- Pick a theme. Contemporary or cottage? Bustling and busy or minimalist and monochrome? Once you have decided how you want your garden to look it will be easier to pick the plants you want.
- Plant a mixture of early and late bloomers. There are many plants that bloom in the Autumn and thrive in the winter, so you can have a colourful garden through all four seasons if you plan your planting properly.
- Shine up your paving. You’ll be amazed by the difference clean paving can make. Look for dedicated outdoor cleaning products like Jeyes Fluid.
- Don’t forget to water! Start with a good long soak once a week, then extend the time period between watering to help your plants become independent. If the weather is hot then make sure you take your hosepipe outside more often.
- Use plant food. It really does make all the difference, ensuring your plants get all the nutrients and minerals that they need.
- Don’t forget your hanging baskets and potted plants. Dotting these around your garden can really enhance the overall look and feel of your outside space. If you haven’t got any turf (perhaps you only have a yard) then potted plants and hanging baskets are a great way to brighten up any outdoor areas.
- Invest in some wildlife attractions. There is nothing nicer than watching the bees buzzing around your beautiful flowers, but there are other great ways to attract nature to your garden. Why not put out a bird table, feeder or bath? To attract hedgehogs, look at hedgehog houses and specialised feed, or attract badgers with unsalted nuts, seeds, fruit and root vegetables. Stay away from bread and milk, as this is very bad for wild animals.
We hope you’ll find our tips useful for your own gardening and, whether you have green fingers or not, we hope you’ll find the time to come and enjoy our gardens with us this summer.