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The golden rules of gardening

Posted: Monday 23 June 2014
by Adam Pasco

It’s always a pleasure meeting keen gardeners, but slightly daunting when you actually have to entertain them.


It’s always a pleasure meeting keen gardeners, but slightly daunting when I actually have to entertain them. Last Friday I had a lovely crowd at an RHS ‘Growing for Success’ lecture I gave at Parham House in West Sussex.

Over the years I’ve given countless lectures to gardening groups across the country, and on relaxing days at sea on Gardeners’ World cruises. Hence I’m always looking for themes that will resonate with my audience, and provide a good hour of gardening information and banter. Even better if I can illustrate my thoughts with superb images of flowers and produce taken in my garden. (The days of a lecturer fumbling with upside-down slides are well and truly over. Slick PowerPoint presentations are now the order of the day.)

Last Friday’s theme was the ‘Golden Rules of Gardening’. I came up with 15 golden rules, and although there were plenty more I could have included, I think these covered most aspects of my philosophy and the way I garden today. To set the scene, I looked back at my fifty plus years of gardening, and thanked all those inspiring figures who played their part in teaching and guiding me as a gardener. In those formative years it was the great Geoffrey Smith, as well as Arthur Billitt (who I met at Clack’s Farm), the brilliant Geoff Hamilton up at Barnsdale, journalist Arthur Hellyer. I also received guidance from Peter Seabrook, and my earliest mentors on Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time with Fred Loades, Bill Sowerbutts and Professor Alan Gemmell. What a panel!

In my teenage gardening years I gained a degree in horticulture and became a gardening journalist. Little did I realise I’d actually be working with most of these gardening gods, and this would also bring me into the company of Alan Titchmarsh, Carol Klein and many others too.

I’ve learnt something from each and every one of my mentors, so when I stood up on Friday to share my golden rules I was sure to give credit to their source, and to the wealth of wonderful, inspiring gardeners I had the pleasure to meet and work with over the years.

My rules aren’t fearful commandments, but intended to provide guidance and prompts to better gardening. For instance, my first golden rule is to find time when it’s needed most. Whether it’s sowing, planting, pruning or harvesting, there’s usually an ideal time to do them all. With some tasks it pays to be flexible, and adapt to the weather or specific circumstances. And that’s where practical experience comes into play, and the shortcuts to success by learning from others. After all, bending the rules always has a place in gardening.

What are the other golden rules of gardening? Well, they cover everything from choosing plants that really perform and making perfect compost to correct pruning, efficient watering, beating weeds and identifying gardeners' friends from foes.

We’ve all learned something from our favourite gardening gurus. Who has inspired you?





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oldchippy 23/06/2014 at 21:27

I remember Percy Thrower on the roof of broadcasting house in a green house with out any glass so he could talk to his audience as he worked,wonderful days don't get it like that anymore.