If you’ve already caught on, I’m nuts about gardening. I had the plan for my first garden in my head for years before we could afford to own our own in London, I grew up touring advanced tree nurseries, helping to take care of our own large property and doing other people’s gardens as a family. I turned the bramble patch we bought in south-east London into something respectable and had the Dadspo dig up the front asphalt expanse to green the previously grey space. So pregnancy has not stopped me from getting my hands dirty*.
*well it kinda has, I have these brilliant rubber-coated gloves.
Gardening when pregnant has its standard warnings from the NHS – wear gloves, avoid cat and fox poo, don’t do heavy lifting – but there are still plenty of things you can do. Right now, towards the end, I can still plant up pots and get someone else to move them into place.
My second pregnancy has timed really well with the seasons. So in spring I could do lots of traveling for inspo, plenty of heavy(ish) work and bending and digging. Now as I’m coming to the business end of the case of the babies, and November has turned awfully cold and winter is coming, so there’s little to nothing left to do, I’m happy to be inside looking back at a year of photos.
So here’s my how-to garden when pregnant guide, broken down by trimester and written for the seasons I was pregnant in. Pretty sure I can’t remember everything I did this year, but here are some.
First trimester April to June, spring. I’m avoiding heavy lifting until the baby is well settled.
Visit the Great Dixter plant fair and B&Q for a full border’s worth of plants (above). I only bother with stores like B&Q when they get their first deliveries of spring plants. Dig over the new border and plant out. Plant out the spring/summer window boxes with perennials that will later go into the garden. Feed the soil with Maxicrop liquid seaweed fertiliser. Get the succulents out of the shed, cut down the autumn-fruiting raspberry canes. Plant more herbs in the garden as bedding. Buy and grow on plug plants until ready for the beds. Head to Chelsea for fresh inspiration and reaffirmation of some of my key ideas. The tomato seedlings arrive and now is when I begin to lose my patio to the industrial tomato output. Plant seeds. Being war on slugs with Nemaslug.
Get someone else to: Fill the tomato pots with soil and move them into place. Mow the lawn. Always.
Second trimester summer, June to September. Feeling fit and strong, so time to enjoy the garden rather than work on it.
Visit RHS Wisley to see the spring borders for more inspiration. Show restraint and bring home only two plants – stipa giganta and string of pearls. Apply nematodes everywhere to deal with slugs. Repeat constantly. Alliums are blooming. The kid will smash my most precious alliums. Bring some inside to dry in vases. Plant some new perennials in gaps. Gather in raspberries – about a punnet a day – and zucchini flowers (below) to be filled with ricotta and fried.
Third trimester, September to December. I’m getting big, bending and digging are impossible, and it’s getting cold. I’m ready to get back inside, but I’m really starting to think about the garden I want to enjoy next year with the baby.
Visit the Great Dixter plant fair to buy up a few shrubs (above) that will benefit from being planted before winter to get their roots established. Apply a wire climbing frame to the back fence for my jasmine – should have been down in spring, but I’ve been lazy/pregnant and pegging the climber to the plum tree. Take cuttings of some perennials. Divide other perennials. Plant seeds. Prune the apple tree. Sweep my arms through the grasses to remove the masses of spent growth. Cut down the brown summer fruiting raspberry canes.
Get someone else to: Plant new perennials like cardoons, acanthus mollis, teasel. Carry my succulents and non-hardy pot plants into the shed to over-winter (it has a clear perspex roof so they still get light), remove everything spent from the veg patch, dig over with compost, empty soil from tomatoes onto this bed.
Final days: Final assault on slugs. Plant 40 fresh tulips in pots – these are going to cheer me up in early spring. Plant the old tulips from said pots in the ground. Order and plant 60 wallflowers in the green like a maniac. Replant window boxes with Christmassy-coloured cyclamens. Cut down deciduous perennials like Hostas. Wind down watering my indoor succulents. The hydrangea Limelight is fading to pink, the hydrangea Annabelle at the back fades less elegantly to brown and everything is winding down for winter.