While adjusting to staying at home has been challenging, many of us are now turning to gardening to transform our outdoor spaces, create our own little sanctuary and unleash our creativity.
With an array of plants and seeds to choose from, it can seem somewhat overwhelming in knowing where to start. That's why we've spoken with gardening enthusiast, Hollie Berries (also known as @hollie_berries_) to discover her top tips and expert advice on how to make the most of our outdoor spaces and keep our hands in tip-top condition.
I think being outside in the garden, even if it’s for ten minutes every day, is a great way to maintain your outdoor space whilst being incredibly good for the soul at the same time!
With many of us spending more time in our gardens or allotment spaces, what advice would you give to those who are new to the world of gardening?
Start by simply picking a packet of seeds, sowing them and watching them grow! As soon as you see the seeds come to life, you'll be hooked! You really don't need any fancy equipment to grow things - try recycling egg boxes into seed trays or turning old crates into planters. Pinterest is a great resource for garden design inspiration and there you can get some really great ideas for what you could do with the space you have.
How can we make the most of our outdoor space?
Even in the smallest of spaces, you can create your own little garden haven. Get creative and consider growing things in hanging baskets or vertically against a fence or wall. You can grow almost anything in a pot and they look great when grouped together for interest. Think about climbing plants such as Rambling Roses or Jasmine for covering walls with greenery and adding privacy. Create a space that you can really enjoy by adding some seating styled with cosy throws and cushions.
What are the top gardening trends for this year?
Everyone seems to be trying their hand at growing vegetables this year which is such a delight to see! It’s been a good time to reflect and think about how we can be more self-sufficient and growing your own veg is a great place to start. You don't need a vegetable patch or even a garden to join in - simply start with some herb seeds and a window ledge!
Which type of plants would you recommend for beginners?
If growing from seed for beginners I would really recommend Cosmos as they germinate quickly with an excellent success rate and are a very low maintenance plant. They come in a whole range of variates and make excellent cut flowers whilst looking great in the garden too! Some other plants I love are Astilbe, Tiarella and Solidago. They die back each winter and return in Spring so are great for beginners as they are also very low maintenance!
What are your favourite flowers to plant in your allotment?
I absolutely love Dahlias and am really excited about some of the new variates that I’ve got to try for the first time this year. From the biggest variates like the ‘Cafe au Lait’ to the smaller pom pom style ones, they all work so well as cut flowers and in the height of Summer they just look incredible as they grow with their bright colours popping against the lush green foliage!
How often would you recommend maintaining your outdoor space?
I think just being outside in the garden, even if it’s for ten minutes every day, is a great way to maintain your outdoor space whilst being incredibly good for the soul at the same time! I often start my day with my morning cuppa outdoors spend a few minutes deadheading the roses or picking out a few weeds. Keeping on top of it by maintaining little and often keeps it manageable and enjoyable.
Regular time spent in the garden can leave our hands feeling dry, rough and in need of a little TLC. What are your hand care essentials?
It’s so important to look after your hands when they spend so much time in the soil so good quality and natural products are key. My favourite range has to be the Apothecary collection by ARRAN as the products are packed with essential oils and natural extracts. Also, the luxurious Hydrating Hand Creams come in a huge range of ARRAN’s signature scents and are hydrating for up to 72 hours, keeping dry hands at bay and smelling gorgeous!
How are you feeling during this uncertain time?
It has been a strange time where simple pleasures and home comforts have never felt so important. Little things like lighting my favourite ARRAN candle, enjoying some extra pampering and being out in the garden or allotment as much as possible have felt like such a luxury and have really got me through.
What are you doing to remain positive in the current climate?
Keeping busy and having some things to focus on has definitely helped me to remain positive throughout this whole situation. The allotment has been such a wonderful escape as when you're gardening you really do just get so lost in it and forget about anything else. When growing things you are investing in a future and the whole process of nurturing something from a tiny seed into a wonderful big plant is such a positive and rewarding focus.
Do you have any book or podcast recommendations for those looking to learn more about gardening and allotment spaces?
I love a good gardening book and am currently working my way through ‘Down to Earth’ by the gardening hero Monty Don. It’s like a gardening handbook which covers just about everything and has become such a go-to for me! Another great book more specific to growing things is ‘Root to Bloom’ by Jocelyn Cross and Mat Pember. It’s packed full of useful knowledge to help you grow a whole range of foods of which every single part can be used.