April tips for your Garden

1st edition

Jobs for April

Mid-April is a good time to direct sow Sweet Pea seeds at the base of a support, in full sunlight to get the best results for flowering in June & July. Remember to pick them often for repeat flowering and cut back tendrils daily as this will help the plant increase energy into growing longer stalks!

Here are some plants/annuals that can be planted out or sowed in April:

Plants to look out for in April

Clematis Fragrant Spring
Erysimum Bowles Mauve
Exochorda Pearl Bush
Crategus Paul's Scarlet
(Hawhtorn tree)

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Helping You to Create Your Dream Garden: 5 Benefits of Engaging a Garden Designer

Are you longing for a beautiful garden retreat right outside your door? Imagine fragrant flowers, winding pathways, and a space that reflects your personality and lifestyle. Making this dream a reality might seem daunting, but with a garden designer by your side, it becomes an easy and enjoyable experience, especially if you work together online to create your perfect outdoor space.

Why Engage a Garden Designer?                                                                                  

Here's 5 main benefits of engaging a garden designer to help transform your outdoor space:

  1. Expert Guidance: Garden designers know their stuff. They have the knowledge and experience to create an individual, low-maintenance garden that thrives, ensuring it stays beautiful for years to come.
  2. Tailored to You: Your garden is unique, and a designer can tailor the plan to fit your needs and style, making sure it reflects your personality.
  3. Smart Planning: Designing a garden isn't just about beautiful plants; it's about a smart planting scheme that considers year-round colour and interest, whilst being easy to care for. A designer will create detailed plans, considering everything from the aspect of your garden to actual sunlight hours on your borders, from your soil type to the gradient and drainage of your garden.
  4. See Before You Plant: With tools like 3D SketchUp you can bring your 2D plan to life, and with 3D Visuals you will be able see views of your garden come to life before any work begins. It's like a sneak peek into your perfect outdoor space.
  5. Benefits of an Online Designer: You’ll complete an online Style Survey to establish your individual style, from layout and hard landscaping to preferred planting schemes and colour palette, and then you’ll have an online Design Consultation to agree what you’d like to achieve. This takes less time than face-to-face and costs half the price!



What to Consider When Working with a Garden Designer

Here's a simple checklist to help you prepare:

  1. What do you want to Achieve?: Know what you want from your garden. Are you after a peaceful retreat or a social space? A clear objective from you will guide the design process.
  2. Budget: Figure out your budget upfront and share it with your designer. This helps them tailor the plan to fit your finances. A simple to get a rough price guide is to work on a price per square metre, similar to replacing a carpet in one of your rooms! For example, a simple medium-sized garden (12m x 16m) may cost around £60 per sqm, or a more elaborate design for a medium-sized garden may come in around £95 per sqm.
  3. Know Your Space: Provide details about your garden, like size, orientation, and any challenges it presents. Take some photos from an upstairs room looking down onto the garden, or a 360-degree video from the centre of the garden.
  4. Style and Colours: Think about your preferred garden style and colour scheme. This can be established by completing the online Style Survey and will help your designer create a space that feels just right for you.
  5. Maintenance: Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to garden upkeep. Your designer can suggest low-maintenance options that will give you time to actually enjoy your outdoor space.


Discover Your Garden Style

Ready to get started? Take my FREE Garden Style Survey to uncover your preferences and get valuable insights to share with your designer. Just visit https://marymarygardener.com/survey/  to get started!

In short, teaming up with an online garden designer makes creating your dream garden a breeze and keeps costs down so you can spend more on plants! By following these simple steps and using my online style survey, you'll be well on your way to enjoying your own dream garden.

Trials & Tribulations of Creating a Garden: Avoiding 3 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Creating Your Garden

Starting your journey to create a new garden is an exciting and heady experience. There are so many plants to choose from, especially at this time of year and into May, everything looks so colourful, vibrant and fresh. Combine this with the lure of a gorgeous outdoor ‘room’ just fuels our enthusiasm to get started and reimagine our gardens. However, amidst the excitement, it's crucial to tread carefully and avoid some common pitfalls that can derail your gardening aspirations. In this blog, I'll will look at the three prevalent mistakes made when starting a new garden, with a focus on choosing the wrong plants, placing them in the wrong location, and the potential consequences of these errors in terms of time, effort, and cost.

Wrong Plants, Wrong Place:

One of the most fundamental mistakes gardeners (new and experienced) make is selecting plants without considering their compatibility with the garden's environment. It's easy to be drawn to what’s in bloom at the time of purchase, the amazing colours or the scent of a plant, exotic species that need a lot of sun whilst also being sheltered, or shade-loving plants that will suffer in a sun-soaked border without fully understanding each plants needs in terms of aspect, sunlight hours, soil type, and climate.
Planting the wrong plants in the wrong place can lead to multiple issues. Imagine growing shade-loving ferns in direct sunlight or placing drought-tolerant plants in a shady corner. Not only will these plants struggle to thrive, but they may also become susceptible to pests, diseases, and stunted growth.

To avoid these mistakes, take the time to research each plant's requirements thoroughly. Consider factors such as sunlight exposure, soil composition, moisture levels, and hardiness zones. By choosing plants that are well-suited to your garden's conditions, you'll set yourself up for success and minimise the need for costly replacements later on. A great place to reference this would be on the Shoot website; www.shootgardening.co.uk you can sign up for as little as £9 per month and search for plants based on many criteria, such as flowering time, foliage, soil type, aspect, sunlight, to name a few.

Loss of Time and Season:

Another common mistake gardeners make is underestimating the time and effort required to establish a new garden. From clearing/creating the beds and borders to preparing the soil, from sourcing and planting your chosen plants to creating a thriving low maintenance garden. All of which demands patience, dedication, and careful planning. However, when mistakes are made, precious time can be lost, and entire growing seasons may pass without achieving the desired results. Planting the wrong plants or neglecting essential maintenance tasks can lead to poor growth, pest infestations, and potentially the need for costly replacements.

Furthermore, if significant errors are discovered mid-season, such as realising that a plant is incompatible with its surroundings or suffering from nutrient deficiencies, it may be too late to salvage the current growing season. This can be especially disheartening for gardeners who have invested time, money, and effort into their garden so far.

To reduce the risk of time loss and seasonality setbacks, approach garden planning with a long-term perspective. Take the time to assess your garden site thoroughly, do a soil test or research online www.landis.org.uk/soilscapes/# and carefully plan your planting scheme not just based on what you like, the colours and textures of your plants, but also on local climate patterns and seasonal fluctuations, i.e. what grows well in Torquay, could well struggle in Inverness. By investing in some planning time and thinking about the maintenance required, you can maximise your garden's potential to thrive and minimise the risk of setbacks in terms of time and cost.

Correcting a Mistake; the Cost of Replacing Plants:

Perhaps one of the most tangible consequences of gardening mistakes is the financial cost of replacing plants that fail to thrive or that perish due to poor planning or lack of maintenance.

To avoid unnecessary expenses and minimise the risk of plant loss, start by setting a realistic budget for your garden project. Prioritise essential investments such as feeding and nurturing the soil before planting, do you need an irrigation system so you spend little time watering, and larger more mature shrubs or trees that are not only well-suited to your garden's environment but will give you structure and a sense of an established garden.

If you are on a tight budget, consider starting small and gradually expanding your garden as your confidence and expertise grow, rather than splurging on a large-scale project from the outset.

Furthermore, take advantage of cost-saving strategies such as growing plants from seed, participating in plant swaps or community gardens, and sourcing materials from local nurseries. By being resourceful and investing time in the planning stage, you can create a beautiful garden without breaking the bank.


Creating a new garden is a labour of love that requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a basic knowledge of your soil, aspect and hours of sunshine. By avoiding common pitfalls such as choosing the wrong plants, planting in the wrong place, and neglecting essential maintenance, you can set yourself up with a fabulous outdoor space that you love from the first year and for years to come.

Remember to approach your garden project with patience and a growth mindset; remember you cannot rush nature and there is always something new to learn, and don't be afraid to seek guidance from experienced gardeners or local nurseries or garden centres. They are a great resource and can help with plant combinations and maintenance. With patience, dedication and determination, you can create a wonderful garden that reflects your personality and lifestyle.

Unveiling the Secrets of your Soil: The Tale of Alkaline vs. Acidic


Most gardeners understand that their soil is the foundation on which their plants will thrive. But not all soil is the same. Some gardens are blessed with alkaline soil, while others are home to acidic soil. Understanding these differences and knowing which perennials and shrubs grow well in each type is the key to a beautiful garden. In this blog, we'll explore the unique characteristics of alkaline and acidic soil and introduce you to a diverse range of plants that will love in either type.

Alkaline Soil vs. Acidic Soil: What's the Difference?

Before we look at plant recommendations, let's first understand the basic differences between alkaline and acidic soil:

Alkaline Soil:

Acidic Soil:

Plants for Alkaline Soil:

  1. Lavender (Lavandula spp.): This is a woody perennial and will thrive in alkaline soil, highly scented so adding fragrance and colour to your garden in shades of purple, pink and white from June to August depending on the variety.
  2. Yarrow (Achillea spp.): Yarrow's feathery foliage and clusters of flat-topped flowers do well in alkaline soil, with many shades of white, pink, red, yellow and orange. Long flowering perennials and they are semi-evergreen.
  3. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): With its silvery-grey foliage and tall spires of purply blue flowers, Russian sage is a stunning choice for structure, colour and texture.
  4. Sedum (Sedum spp.): These succulent perennials are not only drought-tolerant but also love alkaline soil. They come in various shapes, sizes and colours. They flower in the late summer and into the autumn.
  5. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia spp.): Known for attracting pollinators, butterfly bushes thrive in alkaline soil and produce vibrant, butterfly-like blooms in many shades of purple, pink and white, also drought tolerant and require little maintenance.

Plants for Acidic Soil:

  1. Azalea (Rhododendron spp.): Azaleas are famous for their stunning, colourful blooms early in the year. They have evergreen foliage and will need to be planted in acidic soil.
  2. Magnolia Stellata: This shrub or small multi-stem tree not only loves acidic soil but also rewards you with a fabulous display of star like blossom in the Spring.
  3. Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.): With their large, showy flowers, rhododendrons are acid-loving favourites in many gardens. A larger shrub than the Azalea but from the same family, these too are evergreen and flower early in the spring.
  4. Pieris: Interesting evergreen leaves that a long and slender and can be variegated or differing shades of green. New growth is produced in the early spring and is normally orange/red which look like a flower from afar. They do also produce flowers later in the spring/early summer.
  5. Heather (Calluna spp. and Erica spp.): These low-growing shrubs offer a carpet of tiny flowers in shades of pink, purple, white, blue and red. They will do very well in acidic soil and keep the weeds down!


Understanding the pH level of your garden’s soil is the foundation for a garden to thrive and do well. You will need to ‘feed’ your soil, no matter what the soil type is, and this will help your plants to grow and remain healthy. A good soil improver for an acidic soil is bonemeal, lime, wood ash or you’re your own compost heap. For alkaline soil use compost or well-rotted horse manure, or an improver called 6X available from most garden centres.

Whether you have alkaline or acidic soil, there's a wide selection of perennials (plants that die down in the winter, only to reappear in the spring) and shrubs (woody stem plants that can grow quite big if not cut back or shaped) that will flourish in your garden. To find out your soil’s characteristics you can visit www.landis.org.uk/soilscapes/ and input your postcode, then you can start planning your plant list and planting scheme. With the right plants and plant combinations, your garden can look amazing all year round.

Look out for my blog, ‘Right Plant, Right Place: Planting Combinations for all areas of your garden’.

Happy gardening!

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