After what seems like relentless months of rain, it is at least attempting to be spring: the soil is warming, the buds swelling and the blossom starting to pop.
Whether you’re an active gardener, like nosing over the fence at others’ gardens, or just like imagining that one day that patch out the back will look good, now is the time many of us become at least vaguely interested in gardening.
There are gardening books galore and Google to give us all the straight answers, but if you want to be drawn into other gardens, other people’s imaginations and approaches, or want practical help in planning what to do yourself, it’s an app you need.
And as any sensible gardener will tell you, getting things right outside is as much about planning and dreaming in front of a fire with a glass of something intoxicating as it is about being active outside.
With that in mind, here are a selection of the best apps that will enhance everything to do with gardens and gardening, however lazy or active your interest.
Free, iPhone, Ipad, Android
Discover what’s looking good at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew today, delve into the detail via the interactive map and uncover hidden gems. The integrated scanner links QR codes on Kew’s plant labels to plant profiles and video. Ideal for pre-visit planning and when you’re actually there.
iPphone, free initially
Comes with profiles of the most popular fruit and veg included, along with expert advice, suggested varieties, plenty of tips, plus access to more. Add whichever you’re growing to your App garden and the calendar function will remind you of any imminent tasks plus local frost and drought alerts.
Free plus additional priced episodes and add-ons (Iphone, Ipad, Android)
Deservedly picking up the award for New Media at the Garden Media Awards, this app sails a fine path between an interactive magazine and a TV series, with a lively mix of written, video and photographic content from the best gardeners and designers. Expect gardens and approaches from around the world, stacks of useful info and a brightbouncy tone. As the its founder, James Alexander-Sinclair, states “Our aim is to be flippantly authoritative”
There are plenty of vegetable garden planners out there, but this is The One. You’ll save the £6.99 in pencils and paper. Draw on an extensive library of veg to scale-plan your patch through the seasons, with sowing and harvesting reminders that call on local weather station data to make relevant to you.
iPhone, iPad, Android
As with many newspaper and magazine apps, this is little more than a digital version of the magazine, but no less fine for it. If you want a beautifully produced window into gardens, methods, techniques and approaches then this is the one.
Free, iPhone, iPad
Perfect for those in search of tea, cake and inspiration while benefiting charities. Search through the 3,800+ gardens that open under the scheme, automatically find any that are open close to your location or by postcode. Includes opening times, prices, info about the garden and directions. Excellent as it is, and about to be relaunched, new and improved.
Built with professionals in mind but still a great resource for the amateur, this searchable database of 26,000 plants is stacked with information, plus the ability to add more yourself, add as a favourite, make notes and build plant lists.
Various subscriptions (Iphone, Ipad)
The app version of the print magazine that brings the bigger picture of global sustainability and makes it relevant to you and your garden. Expect anything from forest gardening to no-dig veg growing, building a roundhouse to community gardening.
Free (Iphone, Ipad, Android)
Not a gardening app as such, but still indispensable. Think of Evernote as a digital notebook that can store and organise digital material from anywhere: your photographs and notes, web links, pdfs, along with video and audio material. A brilliant resource that ties together online inspiration with whatever you want to record from your garden.
The RHS launched a very well designed app for Chelsea Flower Show 2013 to coincide with the show’s centenary, and follow it up with one for Hampton Court Flower Show this summer, a must whether visiting in person or watching on the box. With great detail – video included -about the gardens, the designs and designers, exhibits and exhibitors, the plants and features. Updated live from the show with interviews, images and videos.