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Pick up a trowel and let’s get happy

Gardening makes you happier, it's official! Toby Buckland shares his September gardening tips...

Turns out there are more benefits to gardening than simply making your pots look pretty.  A new study just found that 50 percent of people reported improved happiness when they got busy with a trowel, with 44 percent noting that gardening helps reduce anxiety, according to research by AXA Insurance. What more encouragement do you need to pull on your suspiciously pristine Cath Kidston gloves and get out there?!

Whether you’ve got just ten minutes to spare or a whole day to potter, TV gardener Toby Buckland, previously of Gardener’s World and soon to be over at Forde Abbey in Chard for his Garden and Harvest Festival (Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept), offers some tips and inspiration for September. Short snippy whajamacallits and long lopper thingamajigs at the ready…

If you’ve got 10 minutes…

I like to have a slosh around in the pond with my daughter’s crabbing net. Getting out the dead leaves of the lilies and water hawthorn stops the water turning green and it’s nice to say hello to the fish… (Haven’t got a pond? Dead head any flowering plants to encourage the very last blooms.)

One hour…

September is a good time for pruning back plants that cover the paths of which I have a lot! Like periwinkle and lemon balm. Pruned now they bounce back and green up for winter.

Two hours…

That’s just about right for a good session in the greenhouse, nipping off leaves that shade and stop the tomatoes from ripening and brushing out the cobwebs. September’s a good time for sowing perennials like ornamental grasses that’ll stay indoors and grow through winter as well as leafy rocket and land cress for salads.

Half a day…

I live near the coast but wouldn’t see the sea unless I trimmed our trees. It’s a job I really enjoy as I like the scent of the sap and greenery as it goes through the shredder and the effect of letting light flood back into the garden. Pruning now might not be recommended in the books but for acers and birch it’s the perfect time as the wounds don’t ‘bleed’ like they do in winter. Also with the canopy still in place it’s easier to artfully shape the crowns so although reduced they keep their graceful good looks.

A full day…

This September I’m replacing our deck with stone paving which is more of a month’s job than just a day but it’s the kind of project I love getting stuck in to as I can have the radio on, revel in getting mucky and see the progress. If I was to cherry-pick though it wouldn’t be building the retaining walls or laying the giant-jigsaw of stone, the day I’d enjoy the most would be the one spent filling the raised borders with fresh earth and planting them up with aromatic herbs, Star Jasmine and scented pinks.

Toby’s Garden & Harvest Festival is on Saturday 16 & Sun 17 September at Forde Abbey and Gardens, Chard, Somerset TA20 4LU. Tel 01460 221290.

Find more ideas here


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