The optimistic whiff of spring is in the air, compelling us to emerge blinking into the sunlight. We are ready to reconnect with the great outdoors and, just like that, garden centres are awash with hopeful horticulturalists, the landscape pulses with the gentle thrum of lawnmowers and every bud, blossom or bloom is being enthusiastically instagrammed.
In recognition of the start of the gardening year, here is a selection of sites that encourage and assist everyone from city slickers to rural bumpkins. The sites will get you digging around your garden, and maybe even get their hands dirty.
Potentially the answer to all of your greenfingered problems, Shoot is an excellent resource that will help you manage, design and care for your garden. Founder Nicola Gammon (a previous GWG guest editor) was fed up with buying plants only to watch them die, and thus Shoot was born. Over 100,000 people have signed up for Shoot membership that allows you to create plant care calendars (and receive monthly reminders), use the garden design software and become part of an online gardening community. Plus, with an enormous (and ever-growing) database of plants, pests and diseases at your fingertips, those heavy reference books can remain on the shelf.
If you need to brush up on your horticultural skills, MyGardenSchool is the place to head to. It was the world's first online gardening school. Students take online gardening courses to learn from gardening experts about how to do absolutely everything in the garden from keeping bees, landscaping, garden design, growing vegetables, building treehouses or growing the perfect roses. And everything in between. You can also be part of a live virtual classroom.
Operating out of a farm in Herefordshire, Wiggly Wigglers is a specialist in country living and the promotion of wildlife habitats. This site sells lots of useful bits and pieces that will make your garden more efficient as a habitat - from wildflower seeds and native trees, to composting systems and nestboxes. Check out their Bokashi composting system, enabling you to compost ALL of your kitchen scraps (meat included) without worrying about vermin or pathogens. So speedy is this system, that before too long you could be using your very own compost to grow beautiful flowers or delicious herbs.
This is the home of the London Wildlife Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting and preserving the capital’s wild spaces. There are lots of ways that Londoners can get involved with this excellent organisation, but what could be more enjoyable than showing up to one of the many events (bat walks, butterfly spotting or bushcraft workshops), or regular volunteering sessions? A great way for urban dwellers to get outside and get closer to nature.
FENNEL AND FERN
The work of a blogging collective, Fennel and Fern is one of the most inspiring gardening blogs on the net. The Garden Grab section is an edit of the best gardening blog posts from around the world, offering you access to new writers and more diverse horticultural flavour. Full of good content and stunning photography, the only risk with this blog is that hours may be lost perusing its treasures, instead of usefully spent outside in the garden.
WILD ABOUT GARDENS
A joint initiative launched by the Wildlife Trust and the RHS to encourage people to promote biodiversity in their own gardens. In the past 50 years the UK has seen a decline in 60% of its native animal and plant species. Wild About Gardens will guide you through the year, telling you what (or who) to look out for each month, as well as suggesting tasks and projects to really help the wildlife flourish in your garden. Learn how to introduce a wildlife pond, build a bee hotel or design a batbox, then wait for the creatures to come...
The National Trust is about so much more than just massive, crumbling stately homes. It is in fact the caretaker for many of Great Britain’s areas of outstanding beauty - including vast areas of coastline, woodland, moorland and many of the UK’s most glorious gardens. With the advent of spring you will find plenty of events, ideas for places to visit and volunteering opportunities on the site. Failing that, take the National Trust’s advice on where to go for a jolly good walk - there is no better way to reconnect with nature.
Updated March 2017