It’s National Gardening Week, and during lockdown those of us lucky enough to have outside spaces have never been busier.
Organised by The Royal Horticultural Society, this week is the biggest annual celebration of gardening in the UK, and with plants having such a positive impact on mental health, the RHS has seen a 65% increase in people asking for gardening advice.
As the UK enters week six of lockdown, Alan Titchmarsh MBE and other gardening glitterati join the RHS in a call to the nation to keep gardening and grow at home for National Gardening Week 2020.
Throughout the week, the RHS and its supporters will be doing more than ever before to bring online gardening inspiration and spring beauty to all those staying at home, by posting videos, images and advice to help people garden at home, both indoors and out.
People can join in and follow along by using the hashtag #NationalGardeningWeek.
Alan Titchmarsh MBE says: “Plants and gardens have the power to uplift us and that is why we urge everyone to get involved in National Gardening Week this year, in whatever way they can. It is more important than ever that we savour the beauty of flowers and trees because gardens are a natural tonic that give us all a boost.
“And if you don’t have a garden or any indoor plants, remember to pause and appreciate the natural world around you when you take your daily exercise.”
An RHS video emphasises the benefits of getting involved this year in terms of our mental health and happiness, adding “Plants uplift us, they heal us, they bring us closer to nature. They attract life and offer hope and we could all do with more of that right now.”
Top 10 RHS tips for National Gardening Week
1. Fill containers including window-boxes and hanging baskets with summer flowers, they might need protection on any frosty nights still to come on exposed gardens and northern areas. If plants cannot be obtained quick-growing calendula, cosmos, nasturtiums and zinnias are especially rewarding to sow now
2. Salads in June are especially welcome; sow lettuces, radishes, salad onions. Even if only patio containers or tubs on balconies masses of tasty fresh salad can be produced. Lettuces or example can be snipped when mere seedlings and go on to produce another crop in July
3. Take another look at the lawn – do you need to mow all of it? Consider leaving at least some unmown until September. The array of flower and insects that use the long grass is surprising.
4. With green waste collections on hold in some areas now is a good time to boost your composting. Simply stack waste material, ideally 50:50 soft green material like grass trimmings and vegetable scraps with strawy stuff – pulled up over-wintered plants, cardboard and scrunched up newspaper for example. Aim for a 1m cube or more, ideally in a bin, for best results.
5. Help worms covering the soil around plants (mulching) with compost, straw, wood or bark chips and hoe only very shallowly to be rid of weeds.
6. Early May is the ideal time to sow annual flowers including wild flowers. Remove weeds with the shallowest hoeing, water the border and the following day sow seeds in short rows so they can be easily weeded before they get too big.
7. Sow vegetables such as beetroot and swedes for the autumn and in the south, French beans and sweetcorn for this summer.
8. Plant summer ‘bulbs’ such as dahlias and gladioli for easy late summer colour.
9. Take cuttings from sprouting tender plants from last year, or from new ones you have been able to buy, such as abutilon, coleus, fuchsias and pelargoniums. Insert 7cm shoots, deleafed on the lower half, into free draining potting media and cover with a plastic bag until they have rooted.
10. As border plants such as heleniums and phlox and sedum begin to grow make sure there are supports put in early to prevent flopping after summer rain, and if the clumps are large dig out a fist sized clump and plant to fill any bare areas or spare pots or pass to fellow gardeners.
Many nurseries and garden centres have been closed since lockdown started, leaving gardeners frustrated and in need of seeds, compost and plants. Nicholsons Nurseries in North Aston are now offering deliveries.
Lorraine Spooner from Nicholsons said this week: “Trees, hedging and shrubs are currently being lovingly cared for on our nursery. The temperate weather for this time of year has encouraged early growth and blossom which is being enjoyed by pollinating insects.
“The Plant Centre may be closed, but plants can be ordered and delivered to your designated ‘safe place’. We are also offering a planting service, although this is currently limited to one-man jobs, so as not to compromise social distancing guidelines.”
Keen gardeners can choose from potted native hedging, trees and shrubs which provide benefits for wildlife – nesting sites, flowers for pollinators, fruit for birds and insects, create effective wind breaks and reduce noise levels.
Among popular varieties available at the moment are Viburnum, Bird Cherry, Hazel, Acers, Maples and Beech, as well as Crab Apple, Spindle and Japanese ornamental cherries.
For more information or help with an order email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to https://www.nicholsonsgb.com/retail-2/plant-centre/nicholsons-nurseries-plants-nicholsons-plants/ Or ring 01869 340342.
For more information about National Gardening Week go to https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/national-gardening-week