Help for First Time Gardeners

According to recent research, a lack of confidence and gardening knowledge means that over a third of people in Scotland don’t make the most of their garden. Just look around and you can see that some people have bags of enthusiasm but don’t know where to start. The PlantforLife survey found this information gap was a common obstacle to people gardening with 28% of respondents saying that simple tips and advice on gardening would boost their confidence and get them planting.

Amazingly, only 5% of Scots surveyed see gardening as a creative leisure activity so, in an effort to encourage more people to experiment in their gardens, PlantforLife has teamed up with Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins to produce the Plant Advice Guide, a free, easy to use booklet for anyone who wants a blooming garden but just doesn’t know where to begin.

Chris CollinsChris says “56% of people surveyed in Scotland by PlantforLife said they would like to know more about gardening, yet when it comes to choosing, planting and maintaining flowers, the names, species and sheer choice can be mind boggling and even slightly daunting. The Plant Advice Guide should equip any budding gardener with the basics to get started and see rewarding results this summer.”

As the resident gardener for Blue Peter, Chris has been gardening since he was a teenager. He has worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and was head gardener at Westminster Abbey for three years. Chris was first seen on our screens in 2003 fronting a gardening show called The Plantsman and more recently in Garden Rivals for UK Style, and Garden Invaders for BBC1, so he knows what works.

Are Scots daunted by the amount of gardening advice which is not appropriate for our northern climate? Research also showed that nearly half (44%) of people surveyed in Scotland purchase plants based purely on colour, scent and shape.

garden adviceAvoiding jargon and technical terms, the Plant Advice Guide contains clear descriptions of 20 popular flowering plants and shrubs. The plants are listed under their common names and the guide also includes phonetic pronunciations, so people can be confident when asking at garden centres and nurseries. Finally, an easy to follow key explains how to plant, maintain and choose the perfect planting companions for a summer garden.

The PlantforLife survey also highlighted that 1 in 41 people are not seeking advice at garden centres or nurseries because they don’t know what to ask for. To address this, the Plant Advice Guide includes space for people to sketch out a plan of their garden to take to their local garden centre or nursery where Plant Advice Experts can take them through the guide helping them select the right plants and flowers for their garden. The Plant Advice Guide is also free to download from

Andrew Maxted, Director of Commercial Services for the Horticultural Trades Association and PlantforLife spokesperson, said, “This campaign will highlight what amazingly knowledgeable and approachable experts in garden centres and nurseries have to offer. We want to encourage people to use that expertise and reap the rewards of watching their gardens blossom and bloom.”

Plant for Life

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Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

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