Saving for a rainy day: money-saving gardening tips

With the economic climate still a challenge, we asked three of Surrey's top gardening experts to share their best budget-busting ideas for the year ahead

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2011

With the economic climate still a challenge, we asked three of Surrey’s top gardening experts to share their best budget-busting ideas for the year ahead

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Chairman of the NGS, Penny Snell

As chairman of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) and an expert gardener herself, Penny Snell is well-placed to offer some good advice. Her romantic garden at Moleshill House in Cobham is full of colour-coordinated borders and carefully chosen plants to suit the varying climate. Here, she shares her top budgeting tips…

Good housekeeping now will pay off later. For example, tidy up shrubs and roses by cutting out dead branches to ensure better flowering. Make free organic matter from garden and kitchen waste to feed the garden. Organise a compost heap or perhaps build a bigger and better one. What could be better on a cold January day than studying the seed catalogues and planning the planting for the coming year? Growing from seed is both economical and rewarding.

If you have lifted the dahlias and stored them for winter, look them over in January to make sure they’re not wilting. If you find they are, soak in luke warm water before returning to storage – far better value than buying new ones.

The NGS has gardens open across Surrey from February to October. For more information, visit

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Garden designer, Cherry Mills

Based in Godalming, Cherry Mills creates elegant gardens across the county. Also a member of the Society of Garden Designers, she likes to remain in contact with her clients to help them get the most out of their garden. Here are her money-saving tips...

Don’t buy bedding plants, as they need replacing every year. Plant hardy perennials, which survive the winter and increase in bulk each year, such as geraniums. Allow perennials, such as irises, asters and pulmonaria, to grow into bigger clumps that can then be divided and replanted. Let other perennials self-seed – for example, Verbena bonariensis, digitalis or sisyrinchium – thus creating new plants for free. Then arrange a plant swap with friends to increase the range in your garden. Club together with friends to buy bulbs in bulk (50,100 etc) direct from the suppliers. Trade jobs with your neighbouring gardeners and friends – tall people can help with hedges while the less physically strong can do weeding and pruning. Also, club together to hire a shredder to turn hard prunings into mulch, which can be recycled back into the garden.

Cherry Mills Garden Design, Godalming. For more details, e-mail her at or visit

Organic gardener, Gilli Cooling

Based in Carshalton, Gilli Cooling works in harmony with nature, providing habitats for all kinds of wildlife, which in turn benefits her garden with its abundance of organically grown plants. A member of the Surrey Organic Gardening Group, she also teaches local children through gardening classes. Here, she shares a few pearls of wisdom…

Propagate from within your garden by taking cuttings. It is both easy and economical. Recycled objects can make great sculptural focal points or containers. For example, a neighbour was throwing out an old metal bed-head, which I turned into a decorative feature. Also, growing bamboo or willow gives you stems you can cut and turn into stakes for plants (which are expensive to keep replacing), hurdles or even an arbour. Integrate vegetables through the garden to encourage beneficial insects. It’s how old gardens used to work, with everything inter-planted.

For more information about the Surrey Organic Gardening Group, visit their website at

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