Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Gardening is good for the soul by Val Bourne, our gardening expert in England

Gardening is good for the soul, everybody says so, but greenhouse gardening is the equivalent of a luxury spa treatment for you and your plants, where you are cosseted against the worst of the weather. Ā A cool spring day, one that makes you tighten your scarf and shudder, suddenly becomes thoroughly pleasant. No wonder I find myself immersed in my Hartley greenhouse on days that might otherwise drive me inside.

Abutting Paxton Glasshouse
Abutting Paxton Greenhouse

Lost in my private space, I find myself soothed by an aromatherapy experience as I handle scented pelargoniums with a hint of lemon, rose and peppermint. My cuttings are repotted into John Innes 2 and they respond within a fortnight and then they are be arranged in galvanised and wooden containers along side cherry-scented heliotrope and the silver felted foliage of Plectranthus argentatus, a coleus-like tender plant from South Africa.Ā  By the end of May, they have formed a tapestry of leaf and by early June my sumptuous containers are positioned on the south side of the house.

Thereā€™s always a garden centre hunt around Easter, or a trawl on the web, to acquire some new tender plants such as fiery begonias, elegant fuchsias and exotic impatiens. These potted on plugs will make a shady corner shine from June through to the fading autumn. A morning water and, if the night is cold, a layer of fleece, is all thatā€™s required. Nature and your Hartley Botanic greenhouse does the rest.

Bespoke glasshouse with double porch (2)
Bespoke Greenhouse with Double Porch

Iā€™m able to start off my pots of agapanthus too, by gentle watering little and often. By mid-May I can move them outside and dahlia tubers get the same gentleĀ awakeningĀ , although they wonā€™t be exposed to the elements until early JuneĀ becauseĀ theseĀ Mexican beautiesĀ hate the cold.

Part of my bench is for productive plants and now is the perfect time to acquire ready-grown tomatoes, peppers, chillies and aubergines – as plugs or small plants. Pot them in John Innes 3 and give them a morning drink and tuck them under fleece at night, if cool nights are forecast. Sow your brassicas in 6×4 modular trays, one or two seeds per compartment.Ā  And plant up some herbs. Get pots of chives, mixed thymes, parsley and tarragon and use an old basket for a rustic feel. Pop in a nasturtium seed or two to trail. ā€˜Indian Princeā€™, a bright-red with burnished foliage, will make your greens herbs glow and save you money.

Youā€™ll find thereā€™s nothing better than tinkering in the greenhouse – for you or your garden!

Val Bourne