Top tips for keeping that much loved Christmas plant alive. We've tested a plant sensor and mixed it up with some good old gardening knowledge...
Some are born liking order; some achieve order; some have order thrust upon them.
When we were younger, my sister always lived up to the stereotype of the oldest child – she was incredibly organised… bossy… interfering… sorry, I’m getting carried away. But organised she was and she liked to bestow order on everything over which she had control, including (but not limited to) her book collection, which she arranged in alphabetical order and wrote a catalogue for. If I wanted to borrow a book I had to fill in the appropriate paperwork before I could leave her bedroom.
To be fair, this was a very sensible approach – she had an excellent awareness of her belongings, knew immediately where to find each one, and always had a record of who had borrowed any of her books so that she could chase them up and bully them if she wanted to.
Not everyone has this attitude at the age of ten. Not everyone appreciates order even as adults. But for those who do, then utilising a theme to plan your garden design can be a rewarding approach. And if this is a route that you choose to go down, then the Hamburg Botanical Gardens are a great source of inspiration. The three areas of their garden are organised according to three different themes:
- Plants and humans – this section of the garden is subdivided into gardens with different themes: the farmer’s garden, Biblical garden, pharmacy garden, poisonous plants and medicinal plants. Whilst dedicating a section of your garden to poisonous plants may raise suspicions (and nerves) amongst your neighbours, choosing different themed areas for your garden is a great approach to encourage you to consider different species. You could even make the themes more personal by dedicating each section of the garden to plants that relate to different parts of your life, or have a section of the garden for plants that each member of your family likes.
- Geography – this section of the Hamburg Botanical Gardens is arranged by geographical origin; different continents are represented by different areas. This is another great idea for the home garden, with one of the benefits being that in the process of choosing plants for each continent, you’re likely to learn a lot about different plants and their origins. The downside is that the Antactica section can look rather sparse. And the snow machine and fur seals can take up a lot of space.
- Systematic clock - the final section is made up of 90 beds of plants arranged into the shape of a clock, with the plants organised by evolutionary relationship. The first quarter deals with plants that are 300-200 million years old, such as yew and pine-like plants, and as you walk around the clock you come to relative newcomers like aster, which, at less than 100 million years old, are positive newcomers to the gardening world. It’s likely that arranging plants by the molecular systematic results of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group might be a step too far for most home gardeners. If it isn’t, good on you. And good luck finding friends.
As well as being a great source of inspiration for garden design, the Hamburg Botanical Gardens are a great source of inspiration for new plants to grow in the garden. Check out some photos of the spring flowers below.
Of course, if Hamburg seems a little too far to go, there are many more local options. There are fifty different botanical gardens, arboretums and pinetums in the UK from the Isle of Wight to Inverness so they’re a great place to go to seek inspiration