Get your hands dirty!

By Philip Macdonald, managing director of Abbotts

Although a return to chillier temperatures in between days of bright sunshine may perhaps make one wonder if we really are back to ‘British summertime’ and the emergence of spring, this is the month when the enthusiastic gardeners amongst us (and I fear I am not one!) traditionally begin to get their hands dirty. As an old friend tells me repeatedly, “gardening keeps me sane. It’s a diversion, and refreshes the mind. An hour just deadheading on a warm summer evening, with a glass of wine in one hand, is my way of unwinding at the end of a busy day.” Many of you will say that you get your hands dirty all year round, but, just as there are fair weather sailors, there are also fair weather gardeners! And spring is usually a good time to start the big tidy up, and fill pots and borders with summer planting. This is especially important if you are thinking of selling. An attractive garden will be equally desirable to non-gardeners as to the green-fingered. It doesn’t matter how large or small, outside space is especially sought after and high on most people’s tick lists. Smart terraces and walled gardens provide intimacy for entertaining friends and family, whilst orchards, paddocks and tree lined avenues are always in demand by rural afficianados. Larger properties may also have tennis courts and croquet lawns, or perhaps a swimming pool; surprisingly, it is the former which are more popular than the latter, probably because of our uncertain weather.

Wild meadows, cottage planting, natural ponds and herb gardens are delightful, and nowadays lots of people are growing their own veg, so space for a growbag is becoming an everyday essential. Manicured lawns can be made easy by using artificial turf, an expensive but convenient option for smaller spaces. What you need is the Wow factor which, I’m told, can be created by sticking to a specific pallet of colours, or just using striking white flowers. Add texture with shrubs and trees; above all, make it a welcoming space, where visitors (especially viewers) want to relax. They won’t forget it in a hurry, particularly when your charming garden is compared with others which have no heart – although a ‘blank canvas’ can have its own appeal for someone who enjoys starting from scratch. I always remember the sale of a pretty modest modern detached house which the owners insisted should be marketed at a figure well above comparable properties in the area because they had created the most magnificent garden. It was sold to the first viewer at the full asking price because she fell in love with that garden; years later, when it returned to the market, the garden had been lovingly cared for and was even better – again it was quickly snapped up for a premium price. Nowadays, when so much energy and money is invested in making interiors glamorous, this is an important lesson for us all to learn. There are lots of gardening books and supplements, as well as garden shows, to learn from; if you don’t have either the time or imagination, it may even be worth employing a garden designer to introduce the hard and soft landscaping which will make a permanent impression, enhancing your lifestyle, and that of those to come. Do it well and, when it comes to selling, you may well achieve a welcome bonus.

Philip Macdonald is on 01284 704815

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