Following on from our 5 essential tools blog, I’ve sought further advice from some experts for the novice gardener – a title I would give to myself. I’ve only just begun my journey, and thus far it’s been rather bumpy. Seedlings left for dead – waterlogged, dried out, eaten – mint and lemon balm cannibalising their not-yet-cold stems. Bought the wrong plant feed, didn’t buy any tomato feed. With few tools at my disposal, a coffee mug is my trowel, a dinner fork is my rake. Is a picture forming?

But if there is one thing I do know about gardening, it’s that you are not alone. The gardening community is prolific, welcoming, knowledgeable and eager to help. There is so much help to be had if you’ll only ask.

I had a chat with Sara of Hawkwell Herbs, a Rhino owner, and her gardening prowess has done a lot to ease my gardening anxiety. Because, after all, gardening should be about relaxing, about well-being and being part of nature. So here are Sara’s tips for a care-free introduction to gardening:

  1. Listen to the radio
    Listen to a local radio station (in my case, BBC Radio Northants) to get localised weather and gardening advice from those with similar soil etc. And BBC World Service to learn how far reaches of the world garden. Learning is critical no matter how experienced you might be.
  2. Get a chair for your greenhouse or garden
    You need to sit and watch your plants. So you can celebrate every little seedling and shrub! A sense of achievement is important to driving you onwards during times of horticultural disaster! So a chair. To sit. Observe. Reflect. Plan.
    Wicker chair in Rhino Greenhouse
  3. A thermometer showing hot and cold
    if you use biological controls, many only work between certain temperatures.
  4. Get a sharpener
    a decent pair of secateurs only lasts so long unsharpened. So buy secateurs AND a sharpening tool.
  5. A phone and a Twitter account
    Use the phone to take photos of bugs or oddly spotted foliage, or anything you aren’t sure about. Post it on Twitter asking those who have loads of experience for help. Bring that world of experience to you. Gardening Twitter is a supportive and friendly place to be. Really. (Really. This blog wouldn’t exist otherwise.)
  6. A decent encyclopaedia of (in my case) herbs
    Or whatever you are choosing to grow of course. Take practical advice from others, but it’s always good to cross check with the theory.
  7. Take a course
    Allow yourself a small a small budget to spend on courses. We always keep learning. Do one thing every year you’ve never come across before.AGood suppliers are everything – my herbs sit in a Rhino greenhouse, in pots from a peat-free supplier (Fertile Fibre). Choose your suppliers well and they will never let you down.
  8. Good suppliers are everything
    My herbs sit in a Rhino greenhouse, in soil from a peat-free supplier (Fertile Fibre). Choose your suppliers well and they will never let you down.
  9. Gin & Tonic (Optional)
    But if it’s optional, better make it a double!
    Gin and Tonic with fruit and potted plant
  10. Enjoy every step of the way.

Sara of Hawkwell Herbs has a Rhino Premium 8x20 in Bluegrass with integral staging. And she just loves it.

Rhino Premium 8x20 Greenhouse in Blue Grass


Thanks to Sara of Hawkwell Herbs for her wonderful advice. To learn more about her and her wonderful business, visit her website (

Written by Sara of Hawkwell Herbs Georgie Matthews