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Gardening Mentor?

Hello all in the potting shed

Last year I bought a 200 year old house with an accompanying cottage garden filled with plants which had been (once) lovingly maintained by its elderly owners but recently got a bit neglected. 

I have only limited gardening experience but this garden is heaven and I want to learn more about how to look after it and develop it myself. 

My predecessor left me a map of most of the plants, and I have spent the last year learning about them as much as I can and watching them grow (or not) through the seasons.  I have also been rather assertive (?!) with the loppers in some of the overgrown areas.

I have two small children and work part time,so sometimes finding the time for the garden is difficult.  So I would appreciate some help in the garden, but not in the traditional "mow the grass and tickle the beds" approach that the local gardeners seem to offer - I can manage that myself.  I'm looking for a gardening mentor who can tell me what is what and what jobs I should be doing when, and showing me how to do it.  I have a pile of books from the library/charity shop, but not a lot of time to read them all.

How do you think I could go about finding someone to help?  There is a local Horticultural Society, but they seem to just meet for a talk by someone once a month.

I'm near Bristol if that's helps with any advice.

Thanks for any pointers.


  • hi Catherine I would be of no help to you as i live in Ireland but i would love to have youre problem

    p/s on TV over here dermot o neill was building a private walled garden and got assistance from the horticultural college the students attended for the experience

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,007

    Try joining the local group anyway.  They may have a newsletter which lists monthly jobs and you may meet someone who's happy to come and help and advise.

    GW magazine always has a section on jobs to be doing that months and the RHS sends out a monthly newsletter by email as well as the monthly magazine.   This wensite has a what to do now section and yu can ask on here for help with specific plants.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,415

    Sounds idyllic Catherine. You might join the Hardy Plant Society or Cottage Garden Society. Have a look at their websites. There's a lot of knowledge about plants in those groups

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,777

    My advice might sound a bit heavy handed Catherine but here goes!

    I know what it's like to juggle young children and work etc, and though a cottage garden might sound wonderful they are a lot of work so my suggestion is- shock horror-could you take part of the garden as a safe area for the children-swings, slides, sand pits and maybe a little bit for them to grow stuff, and therefore make your part a bit smaller and easier to manage for the time being? I don't know what size your plot is but no one should feel obliged to keep a garden 'the way it already is'. I know some people  might disagree with me, but the garden has to be manageable for you and your needs or it just becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.image

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • I agree about having a child friendly area.  Many cottage garden plants are poisonous to one degree or another, and you need to educate your children that NOTHING from the garden goes into their mouth.  A great idea when they're old enough to understand, but a two year old will forget, and if something looks tasty, they will try it.  Most poisonous stuff tastes pretty foul, so hopefully they'd spit it out.  Also, if you've got boys, they will eventually trash your lawn by playing football on it, girls are a bit easier, unless they're tomboys, but an area set aside for them will help strike a balance, they have their bit, and then if they knock the tops off your lupins playing football you can read them the riot act, they have an area of their own to trash!

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