In The Country and Town May 2024

Photo: Frances Tophill

2. Try to do the minimum

Moving house? How to tackle a new garden By Hannah Stephenson, PA When Gardeners’ World presenter Frances Tophill moved to her two-bedroom stone cottage in Devon, she inherited the biggest garden she had ever owned, at 9m x 10m, with a little lawn, a rose archway, a small pond and a wood store. There, she has created her own pocket of paradise, but has learned much along the way, as she explains in her new book,A Year In A Small Garden. Here, she offers tips to anyone who has just moved and is wondering what to do with their new plot of land in the next year.

“See what comes up. In my garden I had daffodils, rhubarb and things that I thought had died or I didn’t think there was anything there and suddenly you have growth shooting from the soil. “Doing the very minimum is really important, because if you take the time to do that then by the time you put pen to paper to make a little design of what you want your garden to be, you’ll know which bits you can use, where the sun hits, where you want to sit and where you want to store stuff.You can also find what your natural pathways are and how you move through the space, and you’ll also learn what you like and what you don’t like.”

In time, you may want to move plants that have emerged but might be in the wrong place.

“I moved a rhubarb from a sunny patch to near the pond. Moving plants is best in autumn or spring, or for a shrub or a tree, when it’s fully dormant.”

1. Watch and learn

“The first year, I would just almost be observing what the garden does. The light changes so much from winter to summer, the position of the sun.You learn where there are wet patches and dry patches, windy patches, or there might be bits that never get any rain because a wall gives you a rain shadow.”

3. Keep a diary

“I made notes, kept a diary, maybe because I’m not a particularly organised person.What tends to happen is that you notice the things that matter. “I noticed, for example, that my garden has a very big wall to the south side, so in the middle of winter I get no sun at all because the low sun is behind that wall all the time.When

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