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Hi, I've recently been landed with the task of tending to garden of an elderly relative who is no longer able to look after it herself. I've never gardened before and actually four d I really enjoy it but i'm absolutely clueless. I would be grateful of any help i can be given and thank you for your patience.

Hello Gareth and welcome.

Could you give a little more information about your relatives garden?.

Is it already planted,and you want advice about maintaining it?

Or is it unplanted and you want help in choosing plants and landscaping?

It does,nt matter what questions you ask,lots of different expertise on this forum ,and someone is always keen to help. 

The garden I look after is 6m wide and 8 m long. Consists of only soil with several plants scattered around. A 900mm wide concrete flag path runs down the centre for axis. How can I make the soil more fertile?

Any idea what type of soil it is? sandy,heavy clay for instance.

Do you know what the plants are that are already growing.? that would give a clue as to Growing conditions,What are you looking to grow?


I do have a photo but struggling to upload it from my phone. There is Rhodedendrum shrub with red flowers. There are some ground cover plants (don't know their name). There are a couple of rose plants, and some flowers I've managed to salvage from another garden. Black Eyed Susan is the closest i got to identifying them. There is one plant that seems to thrive. It has little pink five/six petals flowers and rubbery looking stem and leaves.
Today I planted some bulbs i picked up from local supermarket. Grape Hyacinths, Crocus, poppy anemone and snowdrops.
The soil seems to quite loose and very dark, almost black. I would guess that it drains quickly. For years the owner had fresh top soil delivered on an annual basis. As I've loosened up he soil the by raking and turning it over the level seems to rise in just a few weeks. I guess the soil is quite deep

Difficult to identify soil type from plants mentioned,Rhodedendruns like acidic soil,might be worth getting a soil test kit to make sure.

What do you want from the garden?

The plant that seems to flourish is Sedum Autumn Joy. What other types of plants are good in such conditions?
The lady wants a garden which has colour and flowers all year round. As I have zero idea about gardening is this even possible? the garden is south facing and pan flat. it has no other features apart from the flowers/plants

To test drainage soak a patch and see how quickly it drains away. If it stays you are on clay, but from the sound of it, its not. A soil test kit will give you the soil ph, which you can use as a guide for further planting. The Rhoddy doesnt seem to fit as it flowers normally in early spring. I would get a good gardening book and do some homework over the winter, there will be plenty to choose from, but go for something basic at first and progress from there.

Hiya Gareth. It sounds like good soil. Acid too.

Why not try and pop in some wallflowers....the garden centres sell them now " bare root" which means they are not in pots.  They will give you loads of colour from late winter to late spring.  

Get some daffodils in too.

Domt be tempted to get,rid of anything though....see what comes up,in the spring.  

Sorry Gareth, welcome to the forum.  Enjoy your garden

Thanks fort he advice guys. It may seem very basic to you all but this is great information for someone like me. I didn't realise there was so much to gardening but excited to see what results i can achieve. This weeks job....PH Test !


Hi Gareth, a word of caution about the ph test. It may be worth shopping around for a reliable one. I did a test recently but the results were not at all reliable. I haven't come across anyone else having this problem but I have planted without knowing my soil ph fir many years and don't feel the need. Do your research about which plants grow in certain soil types, have a look what grows I surrounding gardens to get some further clues as well . Enjoy.

If sedum Autumn Joy is growing well then the soil's probably well draining so you'll have plenty of plants to choose from. If the lady wants all year round colour then you'll need a framework of evergreens. You mentioned a Rhodie so you could also have Pieris which has bunches of small creamy white flowers in spring followed by bright pinky/red new growth. They like a bit of shade same as the rhodo so that's one which would probably work for you. As Verd says, the soil sounds good and rich but wait and see what else is there in late winter/spring. There might be lots of bulbs waiting to erupt! If you can get pix on of different aspects of the plot you'll get lots of suggestions here from everyone. 

Hey Gareth.  Just enjoy the fun of plantIng some cheap and cheerful stuff for now.

The soil Test!  Hmm.  There are clues that your soil is acid and you could just see what your neighbours grow.   But, I enjoy the science bit......the soil test is informative, interesting  and valuable.  

Let us know what your test reveals 

Secret Squirrel

Hi Gareth

What I would do to get you started is go to Homebase or B&Q and but buy some winter pansies and viola's. I noticed they were quite resonable price last week. Buy some containers, plasitic will survive the frost and ice. Use a good multi-purpose compost, like 'Miracle-Gro'. You can then place them outside near a window for the lady to look at. Just keep them moist if the compost looks dry. To see if they do need watering, just stick your whole finger in the compost, if it feels damp no need to water.

When the flowers fade, you will see a little seed pod. Pick those off for continue flowering. You can keep those pods, dry them out and the seeds will burst out for sowing next time, but that's if you want to when you are up to speed.

Hope that helps for now, don't hesitate to get back to the forum. We are here to help

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