Feature from Bath Life

Outstanding Outside

Now more than ever the value of having a garden or outside space is being realised. From landscape projects to smaller updates, 2021 is all about maximising our outdoor spaces. 

Whether you are looking for a total landscaping overhaul or more tailored tweaks The Bath Gardener is here to help with garden design ideas to inspire you whatever your budget, garden space or experience, each one guaranteed to add that wow factor, increase your curb appeal and almost definitely add some value to your property. Win, win, win. 

With a little bit of vision and some hard work now, you will be rewarded tenfold come the sunnier months when the sun is over the yardarm. *disclaimer The Bath Gardener is not responsible for any poor weather and will most certainly be out in it all.

House Keys 

The key to starting is to make a note of your garden’s outlook, its position, access and soil composition. Where does the sun rise and set, and which parts are sun soaked and where never sees the light of day? How do you currently spend your time outdoors and how would you ideally like to use your outside space; for that post work G&T, or weekends spent around the BBQ with the family? All this information will help shape what you do next.

Once you’ve lived in your space a little here’s some suggestions to help get you started:

The Personal Touch

It’s never been easier to make your garden an extension of your home and add that personal touch with the help of landscaping experts (*waves). By ensuring any paving or decking is the same level as your indoor flooring, you can blur any lines between the interior and exterior. There is good reason for that expression “bringing the outside in”.

Level Up

Whilst a flat lawn may be easy to mow, and we’d never knock that!, adding levels to your garden can add interest that takes the eye on a journey adding the illusion of more space. Soften those edges with clever planting and pay attention to your colour choices; for example, grey and white stone look great with purple and white flora.

Oh Sit Down

Decked entertaining areas offer a cost effective solution to help level the slopes of Bath. Decking can also incorporate split levels or steps which suit areas that see heavy footfall and with recent developments in decking materials they are easier to keep clean and not so slippery when wet.

Trees are great

Did you know that just watching trees lowers your blood pressure? Fact. As well as this health benefit you are also helping the environment, our local wildlife and leaving a legacy for those who follow behind you. Mature trees make a great starting point for any garden project, adding shade, an anchor for a swing, hammock or hanging lanterns. And newer additions can add a screen to filter out noise or air pollution. 

Wall this way

Living walls are currently very popular in garden designs, adding vertical planting (great for smaller spaces), creating a colourful or aromatic feature. Posts, trellis and fencing can be so much more than a way to mark your boundaries (although they can be an excellent way to keep the neighbours out!) Add timber posts, for example, throughout your garden to add interest to borders and paths, to frame special plants or seated areas.

Go all out out

Soon someone will report on the astronomical rise in the sale of outbuildings as many rush to create extra room for a home office or yoga studio and they are certainly perfect for entertaining family and friends, when that is allowed again. In the meantime if your considering one we would suggest getting on the waiting list now. The great news is that planning permission is not usually required and we can help with the base installation. 

The Bath Gardener is Donny, aka Neil Donovan, and his team have a reputation for “Good Honest Graft” alongside gardening expertise and tea based banter. Tweet him @thebathgardener with any garden related questions, add the hashtag #askTBG

The first Wisteria

February started with my first real bit of gardening of the year. Yesterday I was pruning the first Wisteria (Remember Feb is the best time to ensure you have an abundance of flowers that aren’t obscured by growth).

After a few months of fencing and landscaping it was a welcome change and I was reminded that quite a few of you have asked about receiving regular gardening tips and advice.

So here goes along with the blog we are now emailing you, as a customer, someone we’ve met before or maybe because we know you we hope you enjoy our musings and if you have any garden related queries please get in touch.

Whilst the weather continues on its unpredictable path and we are left wondering if the seasons will ever be defined again, it’s quite easy to remain indoors.

As creatures of habit winter finds many of us hibernating like bears waiting until we are certain we have seen signs of spring, checking the temperature, convincing ourselves that there is nothing to be gained from any activity whilst the ground is hard and the trees are bare.

There is a general gardening misconception that during the coldest months there is little to be gained from pulling on those wellies and gloves and venturing out into your cold gardens.

Well In fact, quite the opposite is true; some hard work now will pay out hugely later on in the year and might even buy you a few extra hours in the sunshine admiring your hard graft with your favourite tipple in hand.

What can be done now you ask?

Here’s our top five list of basic tasks that can be tackled before the mad March hare arrives.

  • Dig over any vacant beds and mix in some manure. They’ll love you back tenfold in the months to come.
  • Got fruit trees? If you haven’t already there is still time to prune helping to ensure a bumper crop.
  • Fancy some of The Good Life and are planning on growing your own vegetables in 2017? NOW is the time to plan and maximise your growing AND harvesting potential. (This is a job you can do from the comfort of your sofa)
  • Keep an eye on the temperature, tender plants that cannot be left outside without protection should really be taken into the greenhouse or conservatory when there is risk of another cold snap. No inside space? Use bubble wrap, straw or even a fleece blanket.
  • Get those pots, tools and greenhouses cleaned up ready for action.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to encourage the kids to get outside more then get them on any of the above jobs or if that doesn’t work they can start by giving the hungry and thirsty garden birds some help. Here’s one of our favourite recipe’s for bird cake from those in the know, the RSPB: https://www.rspb.org.uk/kids-and-schools/kids-and-families/kids-activities/activities/birdcake.aspx  Whatever the weather we will be out in it and it won’t be long before the shorts are back on and everyone will be saying “Ohh I’d love to do your job”Don’t forget to tweet at us @thebathgardener or find us on Facebook too if you have any questions you’d like answered or proud gardening triumphs you’d like to share. #askTBG#landscapegardener #gardenmaintenance #thebathgardener

My favorite thing about February is the expectation that spring is most certainly on its way. Today I found a peony breaking out early so it’s looking good for another muddled up year when the Daffodils beat the snow drops what have you spotted?

That’s nearly our work done here for the first post of 2017. Adults busy, children active and all that hard work will certainly help burn off all those extra calories accrued so far this winter.

Don’t forget to tweet us @thebathgardener or find us on Facebook too if you have any questions you’d like answered or proud gardening triumphs you’d like to share.

#askTBG

#landscapegardener #gardenmaintenance #bathgardener

 

Your garden and the daily caffeine hit

We hope you are enjoying our blog posts; a new ish addition to our web pages where we get the opportunity to chat all things cultivation with you, have some green fingered fun, share the garden love or if we are clever, all of the above!.

If this is your first read, then you are just as welcome. Hello all.

In a never ending attempt to make sure you are as excited about gardening as we are, we have been searching our gardening resources again to find good gardening news for you, lightening and brightening the gardeners load.

And we do believe that we have surpassed ourselves this month.

Imagine if you could combine one of your favourite pastimes with your horticultural aspirations! Yes ladies and gentlemen, your daily caffeine hit will not only give you a ‘pick me up’, but picks up some of the slack out doors too, because coffee grounds, the bit that generally gets sent to landfill can indeed assist you in adding another layer of nourishment to your soil.

Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. There’s no quick result with coffee grounds and we wouldn’t advise adding it directly to your garden, no this gardening tip is all about the long game, as it will provide a slow release of PH neutral nutrients in to your soil. This otherwise waste product can be an excellent addition to both compost, fertilizer or mulch when mixed with grass cuttings for example. An improvement in your spoil structure is guaranteed our research tells us.

If you are not yet sold then might we add that coffee grounds are also a proven cat repellant, a weed suppressant and will deter slugs and we all want to deter those pesky slugs!

If we have (coffee) fueled your imagination and you want to find out more, here is a short video with some more detail. Note that we firmly advocate supporting your local and independent coffee houses, of which we are spoilt for choice in Bath, and long may that continue.

https://twitter.com/gogardeningvids/status/756695695046774785

If like Donny you are more of a tea fan, well that’s not a problem, as tea leaves are also great for enriching soil, and may or may not help you learn your future…..we predict a tea or coffee break! We think we have earned it.

Happy gardening. TBG.

Remember to tweet me your gardening questions using #AskTBG and we will get back to you with a reply as soon as is botanically possible. @thebathgardener

Good Honest Graft or just pottering it all helps

There is a growing body of research that suggests a whole range of social and practical activities can improve our physical and mental wellbeing. This includes our great love; gardening.

The King’s Fund, who champion ‘ideas that change health care’ recently published a report extolling the virtues of gardening.

The physical benefits of any hard graft are well known and well documented. We have long known that heart-pumping, sweat inducing exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and cancer. But here’s the really good news; digging for 30 minutes requires as much energy as a 2 km run, and in so doing, totally justifies that soak in the bath!

The report has further good news for gardener’s, and not even the keenest ones too! The paper concluded that even gentle gardening, what some of you might call a ‘potter’, has a positive impact in much less obvious ways. Time spent outside potting (or pottering), pruning or even weeding can tackle both your anxiety and stress levels. So, put simply, just by spending time in your garden can be of huge benefit to you and your loved ones, and who couldn’t do without lowering their levels of stress?

The Thrive organisation (formerly known as the Society for Horticultural Therapy), hopes the evidence from a recent project will convince doctors to prescribe gardening as a bona fide therapy. It is using £300,000 of Lottery funding to back the research being carried out with the help of Loughborough University using clients, with a range of needs, referred to the charity by social services.

Thrive was established in 1978 and so gives the charity authority enough to say, “We know it (gardening therapy) works, we now just have to prove it.” Whilst we are already converted to the idea that time in our gardens is good for both your heart and your soul, we eagerly await the research findings. We promise not to say ‘we told you so….’.

But our best source of evidence regarding the physical and mental positivity gained from gardens and gardening comes from talking with you, our clients, and family and friends, because you tell us all the time just how important these spaces are to your physical and mental well being. Whether you are enjoying the fruits of our labour or seeing, smelling, eating and touching the benefits of your own, you have, overwhelmingly, fully endorsed all of the above.

So it looks like investing time in the flora and fauna, that is quite literally on your doorstep, is not only providing you and your family with stress busting therapy but with health inducing benefits too.

Yep, that glass of wine, sat on your decking, enjoying the late evening sunshine, it’s all prescribed by The Bath Gardener team. As you were.

Happy gardening. TBG.

Remember to tweet me your gardening questions using #AskTBG and we will get back to you with a reply as soon as is botanically possible. @thebathgardener

 

 

The Humble Bumble

It’s the horticultural hot topic and quite rightly so; the decline of the honey bee should be everyone’s buzzness. Why the decline? Researchers don’t yet have all the answers.

Why should we care? Well if you swear by your family getting its five a day you’ll probably already know that farmers rely on bees to pollinate more than a 100 different fruit and vegetables. We exaggerate not.

Plus, we have learnt that the well loved and much celebrated insect contributes more annually to the British economy than the Royal family! As reported by the Telegraph last year from research carried out at Reading University, bees contribute £651 million to the UK economy every year, which is £150 million more than the Royal Family brings in through tourism. Its no wonder each hive has its own Monarch!

We most often think of bees and flowers as being inextricably linked; with British favourite’s like the sunflower or the much loved lavender, being named as the most “bee-friendly”. What you might not know is that bee’s will in fact mainly seek out trees, namely cherry, plum, alder, or the hazel as its best value for pollen and nectar gathering; so many wild bees’ nests are often found in hollowed-out trees in woodland.

Cunning, although when is Mother Nature ever stupid? Trees offer thousands of flowers all in one place, making the gathering of nectar and pollen a highly efficient and streamlined affair, keeping those bees busy, as we would expect! .

And as is the norm, Mother Nature also offers a fair trade swap in return; the bees pollinate the tree flowers.

Traditionally in Eastern Europe, bees were kept in “tree hives” that were closer to their natural way of living. Beekeeping as we know it today, with swarms kept in hives and managed by beekeepers is a relatively modern development.

What can we do?

As keen as we may be to help create a bee haven in our own gardens, bee hives, be they in the style of Winnie The Pooh or the more artisan tree hives, isn’t a practical or sustainable choice for many. Add to that the expense and tutelage required to set-up and manage a swarm of bees, some may be put off the idea, although the research from Reading Uni suggests it could in fact be a very profitable investment….This is a personal dream of Donny’s

However, given that British gardens collectively cover over one million acres throughout the UK we are better placed than we might have thought to make a difference to the plight and flight of the Humble bumble.

So, here are 3 simple steps that you and your family can do today to support the endangered Honey Bee

  • Plant bee friendly plants, choose a wide variety of daisy shaped plants, as these are easier for the bee to navigate, like asters or sunflowers, also try tall plants like hollyhocks, larkspur and foxgloves.
  • Avoid pesticides. Nearly all treatments that say ‘bug killers’ will also be harmful to the bumblebee too. Try bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/organic_companionplanting for suggestions on pesticide free alternatives.
  • Buy local honey, not only are you cutting down on the food miles, but you will be supporting a local bee keeper who is probably supporting the bee cause too. Let’s be honest is there anything better on toast?

Happy gardening. TBG.

Remember to tweet me your gardening questions using #AskTBG and we will get back to you with a reply as soon as is botanically possible. @thebathgardener

Why Garden?

If you didn’t already know, it’s National Gardening Week April 11th – 17th. The National Gardening Week website is full of nationwide gardening events and ways to celebrate gardens and gardening. We encourage you to take a peek, especially if you are contemplating a new project and are looking for fresh ideas to get re-energised about your outside space.

For those of you that think your fingers aren’t green enough and therefore the invite doesn’t extend to you, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s the perfect place and time to get inspired and make that alfresco dream a reality, however limited you think your gardening capabilities are.

May we also be so bold as to direct you towards our own little cosy corner of the internet that our website inhabits; it too is full of gardening tips, monthly advice and general horticultural happiness. www.thebathgardener.co.uk

Why garden you ask? We could wax on for some time about all the incredible benefits of spending time in your garden but here are just 5 reasons that you might not yet have thought about which will inspire you to pull those wellies on a little more regularly:

  1. Provide your own healthy and safe food. Organic and pesticide free food, and after an initial investment (quite possibly pennies for a packet of seeds) you eat for beans! Literally.
  2. Add beauty and/or value to your home. Coming home to a neat and charming house is good for the stress levels and by adding kerb appeal you could add value to your property.
  3. Be creative. Source unique planters or unique plants if that’s your bag. There are no rules. Create your own masterpiece.
  4. Or be competitive. Grow the biggest marrow/best tomato crop or cultivate your neighbourhood’s fullest hanging baskets. There are plenty of competitions held by local gardening clubs to get you sporting.

Oh, and if you needed any more motivation, recent research showed that even light gardening burnt more calories than going to the gym even if it didn’t feel like it!

Gardening is a win win.

TBG

 

Join @thebathgardener on twitter with your gardening questions #AskTBG

 

nationalgardeningweek.org.uk

#nationalgardeningweek #thebathgardener #AskTBG #gardening #gardeningisfun #gardeningwithkids #gardeningtips #gardeningtips #gardeningideas