Sunday 23 October 2016

"A bright garden makes your home a better place to live"

There are countless reasons to introduce some colour to your garden

Published 22/04/2015 | 02:30

multicolored flowerbed on a lawn. horizontal shot. small GRIP
multicolored flowerbed on a lawn. horizontal shot. small GRIP

Peter Dowdall, who presents gardening features and studio demonstrations on the Today show on RTE 1, says that it is very easy for beginners to get involved in gardening and achieve the bright and colourful garden that they desire.

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"Gardening is as easy as putting a seed, cutting or plant into the ground and giving it water. The plant will grow. It really is as easy as that. If you're not certain about which plant is best, help is always at hand at your local garden centre."

Peter says that having a bright and colourful garden is good for your house, your health and your wallet! It can even benefit the environment.

"Gardening is great therapy, I can't tell you how many times I have gone into the garden to spend an hour and found myself still outside many hours later. A bright garden makes your home a nicer place to live - it gives your home an extra dimension and added value!

"But possibly the most important reason to have colour in your garden is that it will attract bees and other pollinating insects. The importance of this cannot be overstated as bees have been suffering over the last number of years with populations decreasing at alarming rates. We depend on the bees so we should encourage them to thrive."

But how can you achieve the results you desire? For starters, keep in mind that sometimes less is more.

"Don't use too many different types of plants in one area. Concentrate on working to focal points and using good plant combinations. Take into consideration things like colour, texture, eventual size and flowering time. After that you need to bring your own garden's features such as aspect and light levels into the equation."

While colour choice comes down to personal preference, there are some great options to consider for your garden.

"Hebes make great plants for every garden. They offer foliage, colour and are great to flower. These also attract the beneficial insects into the garden. Try combining Hebe Baby Boo or Pink Candy with a Heuchera such as Berry Smoothie or Marmalade. Underplant this with some Aubrieta, or Alpine Phlox and to really give the combination a lift try mixing a few ornamental grasses such as Stipa Ponytails into the mix.

"If you are living in a more rural than suburban environment then maybe plant a mixed hedge instead of all one variety, maybe mix some Holly with Beech for a great effect which again will have a beneficial effect on local biodiversity. Another combination I love at the moment is the silver Euphorbia Tasmanian Tiger planted amongst some Campanula muralis."

Is it possible to have a bright and colourful garden all year round? The simple answer is yes. However, budding gardeners shouldn't simply opt for evergreen plants in a bid to achieve lasting colour in their garden.

"If everything is evergreen then you miss out on the fantastic seasonal displays that deciduous and herbaceous plants will give. A good evergreen backbone to the garden is important but colour comes in many forms. For example, the autumn colour of leaves as they fall from the trees and the silver trunks of Birch during the winter-these bring colour and beauty to the garden during the winter months."

XPeter is in demand as a popular and entertaining speaker on gardening and green issues to both gardening and community groups as well as many corporate engagements. Peter has a wide following on Facebook and Twitter and contributes to a number of gardening and food blogs.

Peter Dowdall's gardening do's and don'ts for beginners

Do get advice from your local  garden centre.

Don't let the technical terms put you off.

Do know your own garden in terms of aspect, wind and shade.

Don't forget pictures of your garden when you are seeking advice. After all its much easier for someone to give you advice if they can see the area that you are talking about.

Do spend time making sure you are planting into good soil. Use a probiotic compost/soil conditioner such as Living Green which will improve any soil it is mixed with.

Don't forget your walls. Look at them as an opportunity to give the garden a further dimension as opposed to a challenge/problem.

Irish Independent

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