Is it a blessing or is it a curse?

It’s like receiving a present from a friend that you’re not sure whether you really wanted. Sure, it’s nice that they thought about you but “What the heck am I going to do with this now?”

An inherited garden, whether it’s from a past relative or some super gardener like Edna Walling, can be the greatest treasure or the natural disaster you hoped would never happen.

See, the problem with an inherited garden is that we feel obligated to keep it the way the person who planted it intended. Which is all very well until you consider that your lifestyle may be completely different to the original owners. How do you continue hand watering all the container plants while sustaining a full-time career? What happens if the climate changes and you’re now faced with a drought?

An inherited garden can be the literal bane of your existence if it isn’t managed properly.

If the garden is of heritage and conservation value to the community then there are possible ways to include professional help without it coming from your own pocket. Historic societies and heritage councils may be your first option. However, if you decide to proceed along this path you may need to render control to another organisation for its upkeep.

Handing it over isn’t your only option and you can decide to maintain it yourself and many gardeners might opt for this choice. If you select this option there are a few things to consider;

  • Overall Design – ask yourself “What was the garden designer trying to portray?” Maybe it was mass plantings of exotic flowers. Or, perhaps they tried to integrate the garden in with remnant forest or bushland. If you plan to conserve the garden in its original state then keeping it true to the gardener’s design is the highest priority regardless of other factors.
  • Focal Plants – pinpointing the plants that make the garden is a key in maintaining it. The struggle is keeping disease away and maintaining the plants structure and nutrient needs. For most mature plants this won’t be difficult and may just require some observation periodically. For other more susceptible plants it may mean more regular checks to keep them healthy.
  • Garden Ornaments – in an old garden, maintaining garden ornaments may be one of the hardest tasks. Sculptures crack and break, furniture can rust or warp, and pots can become brittle and immovable. Ornaments aren’t meant to last forever and in some cases you may need to update these with replica items to maintain the garden effect.
  • Maintenance Routine – apart from the obvious garden items, a gardener will need to plan how they will maintain the garden and keep a balanced lifestyle. Planning a maintenance routine will actually aid you in finding others to help with the workload as each person will know what needs doing and how often.

However, the garden you inherited may just be from a relative with little or no heritage potential. It’s up to you to decide what will happen with it and whether it needs to be replaced to suit your lifestyle and newer gardening trends or whether it should be kept intact and maintained.