The following are some top tips from local experts for those eager to get their garden in shape for the summer ahead.
Phil Gilbride from Killeshandra Garden Centre (KGC) says, in order to gauge the health of a potted plant when purchasing one, check its roots first.
Healthy roots should be white or tan in colour, and long enough to hold the soil in the shape of the pot. If the roots are brown and crumbly the plant is unhealthy.
“Don’t buy it,” warns Phil, lifting a pot that’s close at hand. “It’s all about the roots. To see the strength of a plant, look at what’s going on down below. Even if there’s no flowers on it, you’ll be amazed how it’ll bounce back.”
David Mulhern of Brackley Landscape Services in Bawnboy says a lot can be achieved in the simple small spaces often only afforded to urban gardens. Vertical wall planters are the new trend aimed at maximising all growing potential.
He suggests too that tasteful hard landscaping can be complimented with neat pathways and lend to the idea of mindfulness. Mobility access is something Brackley has been employed to work on, especially for family looking to develop a sensory area for children with conditions such as autism.
“People sometimes have big ideas for what they want, but really it’s about how the space can be best developed and of course used in a creative way that is accessible for everyone for years to come.”
“Early Perennials are great value,” explains Phil, again of KGC. He suggests the canny gardener knows this, and will often buy a smaller plant at €3 at an earlier stage of growth, in the knowledge that months down the line the same plant would otherwise be two and three times its value at the checkout.
“With lots of flowers on it, and in a bigger pot, that same plant will be €8 in the shop. So if you know what you’re at, you’ll buy three of them at €3, and soon enough you’ll fill your garden out very quickly and with plenty of colour as well.”
Paddy McNamee of McNamee Paving and Landscaping near Virginia says that patios, once in place, can be brought to life with the use of pots, and planters to grow all kinds of plants, even vegetables.
En vogue at the present time, explains Paddy, is the idea of raising the patio area above the gradient of the garden itself “so that it stands out”.
“People are trying to create a living space for themselves, perfect for barbecues and a nice area for sitting out and relaxing.”
The unofficial rule of thumb and often-repeated advice is to plant a single variety of plant in either threes or fives, and never in straight lines. Odd number of plants can be arranged in an irregular cluster, which looks more natural. Phil Gilbride of KGC says there’s an additional method to the madness, whereby it makes it easier to weed.
“You plant with regularity. Not only does it look spectacular when the plants come up but you know better what’s a weed and what’s not. If you’ve particularly leafy plants, you get the added benefit of ground cover as well.”