BEWARE of cowboy gardeners - make sure the person you are inviting to work in your garden knows what they’re doing.
You'll get plenty of chancers willing to work for an agreed fee which could end in a ‘slash and chop’ schedule of everything in sight.
They'll even remove the rubbish created and be gone in a few hours, but will the 'clean-up' have done anything to improve to your satisfaction the overall appearance of the garden, the health of the plants, or their long-term well-being? I hardly think so.
'Slash and burn' may not actually be the advertising motto of these 'handymen' but do you honestly think they could ever properly prune a wisteria or clematis, get to grips with the needs of many hydrangeas, or suggest a control measure for scale insects?
Would they know when to shape a cherry tree or reduce the head of a beech?
Could they recognise the first signs of red spider mite on blue conifers, give advice on the removal of lawn thatch, or warn you when your Japanese maple is suffering from the onset of phytophtora?
No, for these you would need the services of a committed, skilled, enthusiastic, well-paid and appreciative gardener.
If you need one of these, seek the help of those at your local garden centre.
It is unrealistic of course to assume that everyone who wants a decorative or ornamental garden is a dedicated gardener.
Most people who can afford to have their property landscaped and professionally managed are already in the bracket that permits them to employ a gardener (or two).
If you employ a lone, dedicated gardener be assured that he's the person who makes your garden sing.
His knowledge, skill and art will nurture your plants and his husbandry will ensure continuation, a healthy soil structure, natural increases, and a bountiful return in season of flowers, berries, and good foliage.
True, his labour is a service for which you will pay, but it is no different in status from an engineer, printer or musician.
In any trade you study, there are those happy to be in the chorus line and those destined to be virtuoso soloists.
The dedicated and knowledgeable gardener is the pianissimo artist so treasure him like gold while you have the chance.
He won't have his health and strength for ever, but until then, he'll work for you and your garden and give you a better return for your money than any other long-term investment.
As to the general public who would like to better manage an attractive garden (without the aid of paid help) the best approach is to increase their knowledge by trial and error, (all great gardeners have started from this first step) or by reading, joining a club, or researching on the internet.
Subscribing to a weekly gardening magazine is a great way to gain knowledge so too attending a day or night class in horticulture.
Visit other gardens, take notes, photographs, and ideas home with you, for these may be incorporated into your own garden later.
When something looks right in an ‘open garden’ it usually is, and when it doesn't, it looks decidedly wrong no matter how you view it.
Work small areas at a time and don’t try to do the whole plot in one bite.
Enjoy it as you progress bearing in mind that gardening is ongoing and unending. Keep reading.