Starting out as a gardener

I began my gardening career in 2015, I took on a few general maintenance clients and did some work experience with various companies. It was great, but without a network of people to learn from/aspire too, I was lost.

What I’ve learnt in these past few years:

  1. Be energetic, enthusiastic and friendly. Interacting with customers and other gardeners is useful; it builds strong relationships that can provide future work.
  2. Create a Twitter/Instagram account and connect with fellow horticulturists on there. Read their blogs and listen to their podcasts because you will learn a lot!
  3. Never turn down an opportunity! Use the connections you build in person/on social media to go on courses/find work experience/expand your knowledge.
  4. Knowing what tools are necessary; take a look at my toolkit blog here.
  5. PPE is absolutely necessary.

Finally, garden maintenance is a great place to begin in horticulture, you learn a lot more about plants and from doing a job than you do from just reading about it.

Favourite seeds for 2018

I have three medium sized vegetable beds. One of these is filled with strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, a gooseberry and dahlias; the other two are empty and ready for spring.

Sorting through the seeds I’ve been hoarding over the past few months and I’ve found some that I am so excited to try and grow!

It can be easy to sow seeds that are tried and tested; each year I choose a few that are new and unfamiliar to me.

  1. Tomato ‘Black Russian’
  2. Tomato ‘Yellow Pear’
  3. Kale ‘Dwarf Green Curled’
  4. Broccoli ‘White Sprouting Early’
  5. Pumpkin ‘Munchkin’
  6. Squash ‘Turks Turban’
  7. Borlotti Bean ‘Lingua de Fuoco 2’
  8. Kohl Rabi ‘Delicacy Purple’
  9. Samphire
  10. Trachymene Coerulea ‘Blue Lace Flower’
  11. Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’
  12. Dill

Let me know the new seeds that you are trying this year on Twitter or Instagram @eogardening.

Can social media become your horticultural tutor?

Being self-employed means I work alone. It’s hard to experience new things/be exposed to new gardening techniques when I don’t have a traditional, real life, role model; so I’ve let the people I interact with on social media become mine.

After a few years as a gardener, you find yourself beginning to repeat what you’ve done year after year; using the same tools, same techniques, sowing similar seeds and planting the same plants.

Last year, I challenged myself to follow every new person I came across on social media that would enhance my horticultural knowledge; botanists that specialise in unique plants, garden maintenance business owners that thrive and private gardeners who have long-term experience etc.

It’s provided a great wealth of knowledge and taught me things that makes jobs easier and a lot quicker. I’ve also discovered new plants that have diversified my planting plants.

Instagram is most valuable for video content, which is easy to follow; horticultural theory can be complicated to understand. It’s also great for tool reviews, there are so many different tools on the market and finding one suitable is difficult. Twitter is best for discovering unusual plant species, seed exchanges, diagnosing a pest/disease and general chat!

It’s also nice to upload a post and be given confirmation that what you’re doing is correct!

Some of the best (I could have continued this list for days):

  1. @fittleworthhousegardens
  2. @stvnhwrd14
  3. @ljclementsgardener
  4. @s.hockenhull
  5. @thomasdstone
  6. @mightyoaksfromtinyacorns
  7. @rekha181
  8. @botanygeek
  9. @alysfowler
  10. @headgardenerLC
  11. @DHgardening
  12. @londnplantology
  13. @j.l.perrone
  14. @hugh.cassidy
  15. @papaver

 

Let me know who else I should follow in the comments!

 

*NOTE: as a professional horticulturist you should study for qualifications.*

Toolkit

Tools need to be clean and sharp to be useful. Tool maintenance is essential so you aren’t buying new tools every spring!

The most used items in my toolkit include:

  1. Secateurs: Felco
  2. A Dutch hoe: Spear and Jackson
  3. Hori-hori: Niwaki
  4. Broom
  5. Leaf grabs
  6. Garden spade: Bulldog
  7. Garden fork: Bulldog
  8. Shears: Niwaki/Spear and Jackson
  9. Loppers: Spear and Jackson
  10. Pruning saw: Silky

Top 3 machinery:

  1. Stihl HSA86 hedge trimmer
  2. Stihl FS40 strimmer
  3. Stihl MS170 chainsaw

Ladder in image above is a Niwaki Tripod ladder.

#3

It’s the third year anniversary of Eleanor Owens Gardening! Cracking year out and about looking after my lovely maintenance clients’ gardens and expanding my horticultural knowledge with online courses.

Targets completed this past year include:

  1. Buying a van (which was honestly changed my life for the better!)
  2. Expanded my botanical knowledge
  3. Learning to craft wooden spoons to recycle the wood from the trees that I fell
  4. Bought a Stihl FS40 strimmer and HSA46 battery-powered hedge trimmer

Targets I hope to complete in the year to come:

  1. Gain more garden design experience
  2. Take on one-off design/clearance jobs that will increase my knowledge and confidence
  3. Have an ‘Eleanor Owens Gardening’ logo placed on my van
  4. Buy roof bars for my van so I can carry around my Niwaki tripod ladder with ease

GROW: Spring bulbs

There’s an abundance of spring bulbs growing in the english countryside; it provides colour in the garden from the beginning of the year.

This autumn, I’ve bought alliums, daffodils and tulips from Peter Nyssen to plant in a border that I created last summer.

The border is filled with perennial grasses, ferns, sedums, geraniums, gypsophila and brunnera; meaning it lacks colour/foliage from late winter-early spring. The bulbs will fill this gap!

My choices:

  1. Allium Roseum
  2. Allium Carinatum Pulchellum
  3. Narcissus Thalia
  4. Tulip Antartica
  5. Tulip Black Bean
  6. Tulip Gabriella

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 17.49.50Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 17.52.12Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 17.52.40Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 17.53.18Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 17.53.39Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 17.54.02

Spring bulbs are easy to grow and when purchased should be planted at the correct planting depth stated on the packet. New bulbs should be planted every year to supplement the original.