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Beginner here! Can I get some help with the basics?

alexemmersonukalexemmersonuk Posts: 61
edited June 2020 in Garden design
Hey everyone! 
First of all can I just say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who's been giving me tips lately! I am a real beginner and your input has been invaluable :) 

Here's my predicament. 

We've moved into our house last year, and didn't do much with the garden last summer (we're musicians and play at weddings and various corporate events, so our week-ends were always away from home). For obvious reason, this year we've had week-ends for the first time in our lives, and we got into gardening. 

The house has a lovely good size backgarden, and a MASSIVE garden at the front. It's bigger than our local park! I have plenty of room to do whatever I like, but it's overwhelming. 

At the moment, I am happy with what I have done in the back (just looked after the lawn and did some lovely planters all around), but the front bit is looking very boring. 

What I would love is to have lots of colour come up next spring, but the garden is fully lawned, and we're probably only going to be in the house for a couple of years at the most, and the house is rented, so I dont want to do anything major that's going to take a lot of work / time / money. I just want to have some colour, but I don't know what to do or where to start. 

I don't know about soil or anything like that, so I am looking for something not fussy. 

For your info, I highly dislike anything red / yellow / orange!!! 
I am all about the bring magenta pinks, purples and blues. 
I'll post a picture of the garden - would love to know what you would do with it, bearing in mind I am a beginner and only really have time to garden at the weekends....

Thank you! 

PS: I LOVE LOVE LOVE muscari Grape Hyacint. I would be quite happy just covering the garden in those, but I believe they are rather short lived?


  • PS - Here's a picture of part of the garden. It's messy I know!!! :/
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 7,454
    edited June 2020
    If it's rented and you may not be there all that long, could you use containers in the front as well ?
    If you use big enough ones you can have colour for long periods,  either by replanting or swooping them around. 
    If you're worried they might be stolen, there are ways of fixing them . Also your landlord might not want you digging flower beds in the lawn.
    Grape hyacinths can be invasive so your landlord might not be too happy, but in a pot on the other hand.... :)
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    I would go potty as @AnniD suggests in your situation. Not knowing the soil, if you go for pots and containers you can research the plants needs and add the most suitable compost to individual pots, that would allow you to grow a really wide range of plants.

    The options of what plants is almost endless, but if you do go for pots and containers it narrows the field a little and you would not have the wrench in future of leaving favourite plants behind.

    There is lots of fun to be had with containers, such as bulb layering for a succession of colours.

    One of my favourites is to do a bulb lasagne with white winter pansies, it then follows with white crocus, followed by white tulip.. ..but hidden at the bottom is one of the really spectacular black or deep purple tulips, just to give a nice shock at the end.  :D

  • @GemmaJF
    love the idea of the bulb lasagna, will have a think for sure!! 

    She's a beaut! ;P 
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,532
    Have a look at the tulips sold as "species" or  "perennial".  Most tulips are only good for a year or two, but these will flower year after year.  The flowers are a bit smaller and less showy, but they are much better value, and you'll find every colour you could wish for.  They won't be on sale until the autumn, and if they're planted before November, they are prone to disease, I think it's called something like tulip fire.  I buy from Peter Nyssen, because they are aiming for plastic-free packaging, but there are other good suppliers.

    One way to prevent your pots being stolen is to bury them in the ground.  No-one will see them so they can be cheap nasty ones.  The grass will grow back over the top, and they will appear to be planted directly.  When you leave, you can lift them and re-fill the holes.
  • I'd be inclined to scatter crocus across the lawn for a bit of spring colour.
  • @josusa47
    Thanks for that! Great info and great idea! PS I am not worried about pots being stolen in this area, but I quite like the idea of burying them anyway! Thanks! 
  • @Excitable Boy
    If I scatter crocus, won't I just damage it when  I mow...? 
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Greater ManchesterPosts: 658
    edited June 2020
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,049
    edited June 2020
    I'd be tempted to make a large-ish ovoid shaped patch into a wildflower meadow. 

    Into that you can plant a load of spring bulbs which will be succeeded by wildflowers in the summer.

    Major pros are that it's relatively cheap to do and - once you've got it going - will require very little maintenance which will fit with your lifestyle. Bulbs will do their own thing in the spring, their tatty leaves will be hidden by the growing grass and wildflowers, you'll have a colourful, wildlife friendly display in the summer and the meadowey bit of the lawn only needs to be cut once or twice a year after the plants have set seed.

    The major con is that it involves a bit of careful management to get it going. You would need to strip off the grass (although some people do it by really scalping the area with a mower and then really rough-raking lots of the grass out). You then sow a wildflower seed mix (rich in yellow rattle to stop the grass taking over again) which you will need to water regularly if you do it now. You could just about get away with doing it now although it's better in spring or autumn. In the autumn you could plant loads of spring flowering bulbs.

    If you're tempted there's lots of stuff on You Tube / internet about how to go about it. Do take a bit of time to research it.

    I would strongly recommend using one of the online suppliers of wildflower meadow seed mix. With many of them you can customise the mix of seeds for the look and colour you want. Garden centres tend to sell wildflower seed in tiddly little packets - nowhere near big enough for your patch.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
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