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New Family Home with Lovely Garden - worried beginner

Hello everyone.   I am a 31 year-old complete beginner to gardening who has just moved from a 1st floor flat to a family home with my first garden.   It is absolutely delightful to have the space to enjoy and the previous owners took great care to ensure that the garden is both charming and well-stocked. It doesn't have any grass but lots of well-established plants and features. I'm quickly falling in love with it.   My problem is that I'm terrified I will kill the garden off unless I quickly learn what each plant is etc and how I should be maintaining it. Before I know it it will be spring and I'm keen to strip away the dead plants to allow the garden to flourish when the better weather returns.   If I take some photos tomorrow and post them here will there be any people able to   a) help me identify individual plants b) assist me in identifying which plants to remove and how c) give me general advice on how to help the garden continue to flourish   Please just let me know if you'll be able to help.I'll post some photos tomorrow hopefully.   Thank you in advance for any assistance given.   Mark


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,440

    Its difficult to id plants at this time of year, and a lot will have gone below ground for the winter. But we'll have a go.  There will  probably be bulbs below ground to surprise you in spring. You will not damage much by doing nothing.  Obvious weeds I would remove, but basically go slowly until you know what you have, and what you want to keep or alter.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,358

    Hi Mark, welcome

    I agree, wait and see what you've got, 

    Take some close up photos of buds and stems, leaves if there are any. Note prickles and scents and anything else that strikes you., it all helps with the ID

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • We have moved house about 15 times in the last 40 years.The best advice I was given by my dad was to wait a year and see what came up in the garden, then make changes. Best advice ever!

  • Don't worry too much - gardening really isn't as difficult as it sometimes seems image

    Some of us make it more difficult for ourselves by growing things we love in situations that don't really suit them, but you won't do any harm by just watching your garden for the first few months, and finding out what you've got there - I'm sure you'll soon find some little green shoots peeking through the soil - enjoy image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353

    Post away Mark and people here will help as much as they can! As previously said - many plants are dormant just now so if you can be patient, you're bound to get a few nice surprises over the next few months! Part of the joy of a new plot is seeing something emerge. Bulbs in particular. In my last house we had a long, boring boundary fence along the grassy front garden of the house. In late winter, it was transformed by a sea of snowdrops, followed by a Wordsworthian 'host' of golden daffodils. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    Welcome Mark. If you can recognise dandelions then gently dig them up with a small trowel. Also, any brambles could be removed at this time, including as much root as you can. Be careful not to tread on the bare earth as it might have bulbs about to pop out.

  • Rosie31Rosie31 Posts: 483

    Welcome Mark - you are going to have so much fun!  We moved to a house with a big garden ten years ago, and have been learning ever since.  First lesson - don't panic!  Your garden is a tough cookie - plants all want to grow, and are built to do just that.  So you won't do any harm by waiting and watching for a year.  I'd definitely agree with others here who are saying 'wait a year and see what comes up' - the majority of your plants are underground right now, hidden away, and will only show themselves as the year progresses. 

    On the other hand, I sympathise if you are itching to get out there and get stuck in! 

    My top tips would be...

    Take lots of photos, now and every month, and keep a note of when each was taken.  It will help you keep track of what your garden does each month (as well as being lovely to look back on in future'll have lots of conversations about 'do you remember when we first moved in it looked like this?'

    Get some decent tools for Christmas.  Nothing more frustrating than trying to work with bad tools.  My 'must haves' would be: a good pair of secateurs (you can't beat Felcos);  good gardening gloves;  a pruning saw and/or good pair of loppers;  a big plastic trug to carry things in;  a fork; a spade; and (my latest discovery) a japanese razor hoe (trying googling that, they are brilliant).  See what Santa can be persuaded to put in your stocking!

    I swear by (and still use after ten years) the Gardening Expert series of books.  Depending on what is in your garden, I'd get the Flower Expert, the Tree and Shrub Expert, and the Bulb Expert.  They are even better than this forum for identifying mystery plants and telling you what to do with them.

    This forum is brilliant - so many generous people just itching to help you.  Bookmark it and keep visiting - I've learnt so much by just lurking and reading others people's questions and answers!

    Above all...always remember that your garden is something to be enjoyed, not an albatross around your neck!  It can take up as much time and effort as you want to put into it (and I love nearly every minute I spend out there, including the backbreaking ones).  But remember to do what Alan Titchmarsh calls 'the other sort of gardening' - where you get out the deckchair, the glass and the good book and just enjoy what you have created!

    Really looking forward to seeing you here on the forum (and seeing your photos).  Have a great time!



  • If you can - live 12 months with what is there. Not all plants will be visible - herbaceous and bulbous plants have their seasons, and only a few are in season now. Supervise children so they don't decide to eat stuff that looks pretty but is toxic. Make a measured assessment on how you personally manage that scenario.

    A 12 month record of the garden with photos (lots of them) will help you with changes. Alternatively, you rely on memory and try to remember where the seasonal gaps are.


    The larger the garden, the more important it is to wait and see and let it be.

  • Hi.

    If I were you I would buy a relatively cheap book called The Flower Expert which would help you next year when all of your plants start to grow.


  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,742

    Previous posts really have given the best advice - watch the garden for a year before attacking it yourself.  Plants may get a little untidy but you can cut them back once you've identified them.

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