London (change)
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21/01/2014 at 22:49

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Its more relevant if lets say you were dead set on growing specific plants like rhododendrons/azaleas/magnolias etc then you ideally need acidic soil. But for most plants I'm sure you will be fine. 

But whilst your at the early stages of planning your garden then it makes sense to test your soil.

If you do create some borders, you can save yourself the effort of disposing of the dug out turf by laying it grass side down in the bottom of the border, then put the soil back on top. Or pile it in the corner of your garden (grass side to grass side) and it will turn into lovely soil by next year, that you can add back to the borders.

21/01/2014 at 22:55
Great tip re the turf, thanks LF. I have 2 Azaleas, very small and they haven't really done much at all, that could explain why. Definitely going to test the soil. If it is Alkaline, I presume (but am probably wrong!) that I can add something to that area of the soil to increase the acidity?
21/01/2014 at 23:07

I keep my Azealeas happy by feeding with sequestered Iron and a mulch of composted bracken.

21/01/2014 at 23:08
That sounds very technical punkdoc.....note my name Will google tomorrow to see if it's as technical as it sounds, I need some sleep now, dream time to plan my garden
21/01/2014 at 23:10
Vitax.....that's way the lady at the GC told me to use today, happy days, I'm getting it now Night all.
22/01/2014 at 09:55

Lovely, Tracey. I think LeadFarmer has given some good advice. Most plants grow on most soils, but some are acid or alkali loving, but you don't have to use them if you want to keep it simple. As LF said, dig in compost and rotted manure, if you can get it, along the hedge. There are a lot of plants that grow in dry shade, have a look with "Google", not such bright colours, but some have lovely leaves.

If it were my garden I'd be digging up some of the lawn, you will have to be very nice to your OH! I also feed my beds more than I feed the lawn! But don't overfeed as you will get more leaves than flowers. I use organic fertilisers.

22/01/2014 at 09:59
Thanks Lizzie, I intend feeding well this year. Just been have a look at Begonias on Thompson & Morgan website, they are all beautiful. Planting some seeds over the next few days. I am so excited about this summer!!!
22/01/2014 at 11:01

Do you have somewhere light and warm to keep the seeds when they have germinated into little plants? I don't start sowing yet, there may be a lot of horrid weather to come and plants can get weak and leggy while waiting.

22/01/2014 at 11:54
I didn't write that very well. I'm not planting begonias, just some Sweet Peas (inside on my window sill) and other bedding plants that have been recommended to plant as they withstand bad weather - Delphinium, Verbena and Rudbeckia. I can't remember who told me, it was on another thread. I'm not brave enough to try begonias from seed
22/01/2014 at 14:13

This may not be so relevant for shaded areas, but for a new large border you can dramatically reduce the costs of planting by sowing the area with seeds. That way you get a summer of lovely plants and also gives you more time to plan and save for the plants you do want to buy for next year. 

22/01/2014 at 17:27
Thanks Brumbull, Sweet peas are one of the few varieties of 'seed' that I do well in producing little babies's when they start growing and I plant them out they don't seem to do very well. So, I may well turn to him for some advice in a couple of months, thanks again.

LF, thanks again for more advice. I read somewhere about making a cottage garden type border sowing seeds direct in rows to have lots of colour and for ease, so am thinking I may give that a go. Let's see if it happens first, I'm trying not to get carried away as I still don't think OH will give up much of his precious lawn!!!
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