There are few things more cheering and pleasant than the sight of flowers in your garden or around the house. Stocking your garden with plants can be very costly but there are lots of ways to obtain plants, pots and ornamental objects for very little money. I am something of a novice in the garden, so we can have the joy of learning (and falling flat on our faces) together. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who are really good at this gardening lark and I’m never afraid to ask questions.
The first step is to have a plan, as a bit of forward thinking gives you time to gather materials and scout around for interesting things. At this time of year you need to be planning for the Spring and making notes about which type of plants you want to grow and how you can get your mucky paws on them. Get some books out of the library, draw some plans in a notebook. And don’t feel restrained by conventional ornaments and containers. Look in skips and go to the tip – make yours the most original garden in the street.
Now go to your garden centre or supermarket and see what seeds they have on sale; the back of the packet will tell you when they can be planted, but I am very much an experimenter. A reasonable rule of thumb is that if it’s in the garden centre, it’s the right time of year for it. Back in July I planted trays and trays of seeds, about half of which were washed away or drowned by the positively diluvian weather we all experienced at the time. (Although when the rain stopped I did find a pair of giraffes and a two rather bedraggled cockatoos lurking in my privet).
I let the trays dry out and have been astonished to find that more seeds than I expected have recovered and started to sprout. But the new problem is that the weather has now turned and is not particularly conducive to bringing on seedlings.
Again, a trip to the garden centre was most profitable as they have their seasonal sales like everyone else. I came home with a small, 3-shelf plastic greenhouse for £9.00, which, if the worst comes to the worst, can be brought indoors; two trays of fuschias for £1 which I’m going to experiment with putting inside and outside the house as I have no idea whether they are hardy; a tray of pansies for £2.00, 30 small plastic pots for £1.12 and a big bag of end of stock compost for £1.50. I also bought all the plants for my hanging baskets last month from a sale at the market (9 plants for £9) and they were as bonny as anything. I could have done with an extra plant in each basket, but I’ll know for next year.
Regular followers of the Wartime Housewife will remember my scavenging expedition to the municipal tip back in July where I found hanging baskets and pots galore for next to nothing and these are really coming into their own now as I am potting up seedlings left, right and centre. I’m going to start some more to replace the ones I lost in the rain, despite the time of year, but at between 99p-£1.50 for a packet of seeds, one can afford to experiment. I have been reliably informed by the Aged Parent that garden centres often have dump bins where you can place unwanted pots for recycling. Recycled straight into my garden as it happens. Always re-use before you recycle.
Just a little aesthetic extra; I use old saucers under my pots in the house. Bric-a-brac stalls, antique stalls and car boot sales will often have loads of assorted china and saucers that cost pence, look lovely and are perfect for small pots. Try planting in mugs or cups and saucers as well.
Another way of obtaining cheap plants, is to do a Seed Swap. Tomorrow evening our local Garden Society is holding a Seed Swap at the village hall but you can buy seeds and seedlings if you don’t have any to swap. If you don’t have a garden soc., go to your friends and neighbours and suggest it to them – it could also be a lovely way to encourage a bit of community spirit. Get that kettle on! Take cuttings, plant seeds, cover your windowsills with pots and see what happens. Oh and don’t forget the biscuits.