Red and purple tulips

New garden? Take your time…

Tulips traditional spring bed
Tulips in traditional spring bed

Moved house? New garden?

Hang on! Don’t do anything just yet….


If you’ve moved to a new house and you’re itching to get started on the garden, the best thing you can do for your pocket and your garden is to be patient and wait  – especially if you move in in mid-winter when many gardens are looking pretty bare and not exactly putting on their best display! 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the previous owners could leave you some photos of the garden in its various stages of development throughout the seasons, so you’d know what to expect as the year goes by? Come to think of it, maybe we should start a campaign to encourage estate agents to request this along with the energy performance certificates?

So, unless you’ve bought a new-build house and are creating a garden from scratch, the best thing you can do is to let a full year pass so you can assess your garden as it reveals its glories with each season. There really is no point in dashing out to spend a lot of money on plants until you know exactly what’s lurking beneath the surface – for all you know you may have a cornucopia of colours, shapes and scents just waiting for the right moment to surprise you!

Apart from trees and bushes, many of which retain their shape, (and even their leaves) throughout the year, a huge proportion of your garden’s assets could be hidden beneath ground – think of all the gorgeous spring flowering plants such as snowdrops, grape hyacinth, bluebells, daffodils and tulips which hide underground, all cosy in their bulbs or corms until their moment to shine arrives, and up they pop to surprise and delight you! If you’d started a big dig in that same area, you’d have inadvertently sliced through them and lost this beautiful display. And later, as summer draws near, what in February may have looked to the new home-owner like a dreary patch of sticks and dead leaves, could come alive revealing all manner of colourful perennials like rudbeckia, echinacea and the gorgeous, willowy verbena like the ones shown in this big image here.

Glorious summer flowering perennials which die down to nothing in winter
Glorious summer flowering perennials which die down to nothing in winter

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a new home owner look in despair at their new patch of dirt and start mentally planning to buy bushes, trees, perennials, the whole lot.

If you really must splash a bit of cash, spend wisely on items that you can start off in pots and later move to the ground when you know exactly what spaces need to be filled. Good plants for this would be miniature fruit trees (apple or cherry are gorgeous), ferns, acer, hosta, eunonymous, box, holly and even fig or olive if you’ve got a relatively sheltered spot for them. If you’re desperate for a quick splash of colour, plant up a beautiful tub with fabulous perennials like sedum, hellenium, achillea or salvia like those in the pretty yellow pots.  Your pots can be placed strategically around your garden for maximum impact, and the plants can later be transplanted into their permanent home in the ground once you’ve decided on their optimum position in your overall garden plan.

Salvia in pots
Salvia in pots – placed strategically can brighten up a dull corner

And if you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of creating a garden from scratch, consult a professional garden design company, preferably a BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) member.

1 Comment

  1. Tony

    Really found this very useful as we’re planning to move very soon and the garden space will be very special to us

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