Opinion: When spring arrives we’re all suddenly gardening experts – including me – Denise Evans


In summer as a kid, I used to get home from a day out playing with my pals and my mum would almost always be outside in the garden.

She’d be planting begonias in yet another pot she bought from Wilkos, neatening up the flower beds, tidying her mini green house or mowing the lawn. In fact, she spent as much time outside throughout the year as she could and it was a running joke that she’d stubbornly dine out al fresco alone in October or March wearing four layers, even when it was too cold for the rest of us.

READ MORE: Things to do in Lancashire in spring from free to affordable

As a result, she was a dab hand at gardening and had all the best tools, constantly replenished her supplies of weed killer, seeds and pots and bought the latest modcons, such as solar-powered lamps. Put simply, she has not passed her green fingered expertise to me.

This is certainly not through want of trying and each spring I am once again filled with optimism that my little garden in West Lancashire will magically transform into a floral heaven Gardener’s World would feature on their front page. I will research the best flowers for the space, pots and planters in my garden, noting that most of it only gets sunlight from around 1pm onwards.



Spring has sprung in Lancashire
Spring has sprung in Lancashire

I’ll ask my neighbour Joe, who could have easily taught Alan Titchmarsh everything he knows, for tips; I will buy the best soil on the market, treat and mow the grass so that it’s good enough for a Premier League football match. Things will go well for a month or two.

And then my efforts will wilt like a parched tulip. The flowers will die, weeds will takeover, the grass turns brown and pathetic and I will feel defeated once again. Maybe it’s just one of rose things I’m never going to get right.

I’d be wise ask for advice from my best friend’s four-year-old twins, who have been expertly planting beautiful primroses and calibrachoas and they look better than when mine do even when I first plant them. It was so cute to see how proud they were to see the fruits of their labour, patiently (one of them, anyway) waiting to see the flowers pop out from the bulbs after a couple of days.

I know I’m not alone as shops, supermarkets and of course garden centres are often packed this time of year with people just like me, excited to see their natural, fail-proof gardening skills blossom and bloom and some are successful, effortlessly creating their own personal oasis.

With rolling lockdowns dominating the past two springs and summers and for those lucky enough to have one, gardens have become a real saviour. And there’s something quite heartening and rewarding about having one where you can sit back and admire the colours of the flowers, height of the plants and tree house you have built.

I haven’t even mentioned the growing trend of installing a summer house, games room or garden bar, complete with beer on tap, darts board and arcade machines. Some of them are seriously impressive, including this one built for just £30 by Preston mum Rachel Jones.

Have you got a garden in Lancashire you are proud of or any tips? Let us know in the comments

So I suppose this whole thing is a bit of a plea to the Monty Dons, Charlie Dimmocks and Adam Frosts out there: What am I doing wrong? Is it arrogance? Naivety? I don’t want to enter my garden in to the Chelsea Flower Show, I just want the flowers to bloom long enough for me to take a picture. Maybe I just need to herb my enthusiasm and accept it’s a case of trowel an error.

I know I could leave it to the professionals, but my garden isn’t that big and I really should be able to handle it myself and the point is, I do enjoy the purchasing and planting of the flowers. Maybe I am so blindly determined to crack this mystery gardening code, I should let my partner help me more, as we’ll pick out the things to plant together and he is already an expert at strimming and mowing.

We’ve just ripped up our decking in the back garden and replaced it with gravel, painted the fences and put up new trellises and it’s really opened up the space but at the same time, it looks bare and sad and in desperate need of some colour. The thyme has come to try and get it right once again.

Sorry not sorry about the puns, by the way, but I didn’t want to be all dressed up with nowhere to grow.

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