Thumbs up for green thumbs Henrietta Hood, owner The Avid Gardener and Sarah Hoskin, owner Caledonian Landscapes. Image: Diana Smith Photography

Have you ever experienced garden envy? Well, now there is something creative that you can do about it.

The Avid Gardener and Caledonian Landscapes are passionate about gardening and garden design and, after realising how proud it makes people to be recognised for growing beautiful gardens, have announced they will sponsor the CWM 2023 Garden of the Year award.

Natural picks

“I’m a mad keen gardener and garden every day as a business, and I love the CWM community so it makes sense that I sponsor this award again and support all those amazing home gardeners who love what they do and show-case it,” said Henrietta Hood, who co-owns The Avid Gardener with Peta Swift.

Caledonian Landscapes’ Sarah Hoskin is equally excited to be joining The Avid Gardener in sponsoring this year’s award. She sees the award as a way to highlight the nurturing aspect of gardens, which in her words are one of the best places to share, come together and feel immersed in nature.

“In the context of CWM, I think that if the mother-community is outside in the garden demonstrating and sharing, then children will be outside more,” she said.

How does your garden grow?

Gardens – any natural green space needing nurturing – can be in any shape or size on a balcony, window sill, pot or acres. “When my kids were little, they had little sock-heads with the alfalfa sprouts that come out and they’d cut them and make little hair-styles. It all starts when they’re young, then growing that passion with them is easy,” said Henrietta.

Fans of gardening will agree that the benefits are wonderful and long lasting. The results are ten-fold the love you put into it and it’s available to everyone. Results also improve with some enthusiasm, consistency, correct watering and if the garden is a manageable size but it’s a matter of trial and error to find your green thumb.

“Unlike a new house, a garden takes time to grow. A single tree planted in the right spot will give shade, seasonal interest, become a focal point, and be something for the children to climb in the future,” Sarah added. “It’s an all-giving thing, that with a good start sets the scene and micro-climate for your garden as it matures.”

Be design-wise

Unless the right plant or plants are chosen the ‘establishment’ years of a garden are wasted. It is so important, she said, to create a plan based on the garden’s purpose, aspect, soil type, the amount of time and resources available, water, the seasons, functionality and desired appearance before buying plants.

“Many couples with young families build their dream house without considering the use and future of the garden. A garden design consultation gifted by a grandparent could focus on one suitable tree to buy them for Christmas that sets the scene for the rest of the garden and the family to benefit from,” she explained. “An understanding of the micro-climate will help locate the best site for the veggie garden, too.”

Overall, gardens are great way of putting down roots. Even on a Winter’s day a small garden plot can be uplifting and give the feeling of anticipation while we prepare beds and brace for Spring, when everything bursts back into life.

Triple your garden’s health

“In order to thrive, in practical terms a garden needs three things: feeding twice a year in Spring and Autumn with organic Dynamic Lifter – it’s slow release and your garden will absolutely love you for it. Mulching is the next most important gift to your garden – to suppress weeds, help retain soil moisture, keep soil temperatures warmer, build up soil nutrients and improve soil condition eg. example on new housing blocks where there is no topsoil, just break up some lucerne hay and cover the garden beds with it and over time a healthier growing base will develop. Thirdly, pruning in preparation for Spring, especially the perennials and cut your roses back hard (don’t be scared of them). Oh, and a fourth thing: love,” Henrietta laughed

A basic garden plan can be achieved with a sketch concept on butcher’s paper refined with measurements of the yard. Mark on North and where shadows will fall, learn the distance needed between plantings, decide how you plan to use the space(s) and allow for pets.

“All these things on paper, up front, help create realistic expectations of where the garden is going and can reduce buying excess or wrong plants, setting you up for success,” Sarah said.

People make mistakes and plants die, but Henrietta and Sarah’s approach is that these are learning opportunities: has watering been too heavy, was the position not quite right, was the heat/cold too extreme, was more protection required, should the plant be bought bigger to be more robust, or bought smaller to conserve the budget?

Feed your body and soul with a garden

They hope this award will provide encouragement to all gardeners for the love and passion they put in, and inspire others to start their own.

The anonymously written Greek proverb ‘Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit under’ is a fitting theme that we can act on now. So, enjoy the promises your garden holds – and nominate someone’s garden today.

Visit The Avid Gardener

Visit Caledonian Landscapes

Diana Smith

I'm an Orange-based photographer, writer, face painter and book designer. I enjoy meeting the lovely folk of our community and have been involved in publishing/media/comms for about 15 years. I have done several exhibitions and in 2022 published my own childrens story, 'The Mouses Houses.'

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