We may still be in the depths of winter, but in eager anticipation of the warmer months, our thoughts are already turning to spring, when our gardens come back to life in a riot of scent and colour.
To help prepare for the season, we’ve collated ideas from some of our favourite UK gardeners, including Sarah Raven, Rachel de Thame, and Adam Frost, and inspiration from world-leading gardens like Appeltern Gardens in the Netherlands and RHS Wisley here in the UK.
Get the best out of your dahlias
The dahlia display at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall (pictured) is a floral masterpiece – so there’s certainly a thing or two we can learn from the gardeners there to make our dahlias equally resplendent. Kate Kinnett from the Lost Gardens of Heligan reminds gardeners to dis-bud dahlias by taking out the two smaller buds below the central flower to produce a larger, more impressive bloom for cutting.
There are plenty more tips and tricks to pick up from the gardeners at the Lost Gardens of Heligan on an exclusive guided tour with Heligan’s Head of Gardens and Estates. It’s part of an exceptional trip to Cornwall in March 2023 with a complete garden focus, visiting six of the county’s best gardens just as they begin to bloom.
For more dahlia inspiration, the display at Villa Taranto in northern Italy is a sight to behold. The Dahlia Maze enchants its visitors with 1700 dahlias in over 350 varieties. The impressive Emery Paul variety has a 25cm flower head, sharply contrasting with the Pompons – these tiny globe-shaped flower heads are not quite 5mm in diameter. You can visit these incredible gardens on an eight-day tour of the lakes and gardens of Italy, with departures in April and October 2023.
Design a garden properly
Any good garden designer will tell you that carefully planning a garden will pay dividends in the long run. But sometimes, it can be hard to know where to start – particularly if you’re taking on a project yourself. It’s something Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost knows plenty about and he shares extensive advice in his book, How to Create your Garden.
Books like Adam’s and online gardening advice are excellent sources of garden design inspiration, but experiencing a garden for yourself – the scent, the colour, and the atmosphere – can help you better visualise how you want your own garden to be. In the Netherlands, there’s a ‘garden ideas’ park, Appeltern Gardens, dedicated to different styles of gardens and an unbeatable source of inspiration for gardeners re-thinking their green spaces.
You can visit Appeltern Gardens on a cruise through the Dutch waterways in April 2023, just as the country’s magnificent bulb flowers burst into kaleidoscopic colour. What’s more, Adam Frost joins the cruise, and you’ll receive a complimentary signed copy of his book.
Avoid honey fungus in your garden
RHS Hilltop is the gardening science centre at RHS Garden Wisley, and their work is ground-breaking. Alongside pioneering climate-change-related research, their work helps domestic gardeners too. The damage that honey fungus can inflict is something keen gardeners know all too well, but the RHS has recently shared research about honey fungus, the UK’s primary garden disease, and released a list of plants to avoid if your garden is susceptible.
The work isn’t all behind-the-scenes. At RHS Hilltop, visitors can listen to free talks, and get expert gardening advice, including how-to demonstrations to try at home, making for a memorable – and exceedingly helpful – day out. You can visit RHS Hilltop on a four-day spring gardens tour around some of the UK’s finest gardens – unmissable for keen horticulturalists, particularly as this gives you exclusive members-only access to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Create the perfect cottage garden
According to expert gardener Sarah Raven, a quintessential English cottage garden look is achieved by introducing flowers selected for their romantic feel, subtle delicateness and sheer prettiness. One of Sarah’s top tips includes incorporating foxgloves and noting that if you pick the king flower – the main spire – you create lots of prince flowers, and the plants will go on flowering for longer.
For more advice about creating beautifully colourful cottage gardens from Sarah, join a Secrets of the English Country Garden tour where you’ll hear directly from Sarah, along with top gardeners at Great Comp Garden, Scotney Castle, Lullingstone Castle, Pashley Manor, Great Dixter and Sissinghurst, where you’ll have the chance to explore the magnificent manicured gardens before they open to the public.
Recreate Cotswolds-style splendour
The magnificent gardens of the Cotswolds are an unending source of inspiration that we can recreate in our own green spaces – whether that is simply recreating beautiful pots, incorporating the large blooms of the Kiftsgate rose into our planting scheme or being inspired by the layout and design of gardens like Hidcote Gardens, which is laid out in a series of outdoor rooms.
The gardens of the Cotswolds are a firm favourite of Gardeners’ World and Countrywise presenter Rachel de Thame, who makes a special guest appearance at Bourton House Garden in June 2023 and joins you for a welcome drink to answer your gardening questions. It’s part of a five-day tour of the Cotswolds’ gardens, where you’ll also visit Painswick Rococo Garden, Batsford Arboretum, and Eastleach House Gardens.
Introduce a magnificent magnolia to your garden
Once a magnolia is well-established, like the ornamental ones you’ll see in the grand gardens of Cornwall, they need very little TLC. But if you’re planting a magnolia in your garden for the first time, it’s worth remembering that these hardy plants prefer a sheltered spot with moist but well-drained soil.
While it may be hard to match the splendour of the magnolias at Trewidden House Garden, you can learn more about this triumphant tree from Helen Yemm when she joins a tour of Cornwall gardens in March 2023. Helen Yemm wrote the Telegraph’s weekly gardening column for twenty years – so she has a well-established legacy in helping gardeners make the most of their green spaces.
Create an eco-friendly wildflower garden
Rewilding and returning parts of our garden to nature will continue to be a trend throughout 2023, a movement vital to restoring some diminishing ecosystems. Or, if you’re not quite ready to put the lawnmower away yet, organic gardening may be your first step towards more sustainable gardening.
Few places can offer more inspiration than Highgrove, the country home of King Charles III. As one of the finest gardens cultivated using wholly organic methods, it’s a beautiful opportunity to see a wildflower meadow created on the advice of acclaimed gardener Miriam Rothschild. The King planted an experimental wildflower meadow with 32 varieties of endangered native plants, including ox eye daisies, yellow rattle, common spotted orchid, meadow crane’s bill and ragged robin.
You can visit Highgrove in the company of Gardeners’ World presenter Christine Walkden during a four-day tour of the Cotswolds’ best gardens, offering an excellent opportunity to learn more about organic gardening methods.
(Article source: Silver Surfers)