Garden Notes

De-stress in a low maintenance garden

Published on 19 March 2009

If you are the usual multi-tasking mum, you may feel that you need to attack the garden in the same way as the rest of your life by creating an all singing, all dancing production; a beautiful, child friendly garden with multi-seasonal interest and of course the very popular vegetable garden.

But ask yourself, can you really spend a large part of your week maintaining the garden and do you have the skills and knowledge to do it? If you are busy like me, what you really need is for your garden to be a sanctuary for you and your family. So how can you do this without creating something else for you to worry about?

Think small in project terms and big in planting style. If youíre going to develop the garden yourself, without professional help, donít take on too much and be selective about what you want in the garden.

Think small in project terms and big in planting style

My advice would be to choose a plant that has meaning for you. Perhaps the vine that your mother has always grown, or in my case the Clematis Nelly Moser that both my grandmother and mother had in their gardens. Read up on how to grow it, and where and buy several. Planting the same plant creates rhythm through the garden and you can learn to look after them well.

Where possible choose evergreen versions of the plants that you like. If they also have a long flowering season, you will get both structure through the winter and value for money. If your garden is to be a sanctuary, then scent is also important.

Examples of plants that fit all these categories are:

  • Trachelospermum Jasminoides – an evergreen, jasmine scented climber, which flowers through the summer and has leaves tinged with red through the winter.
  • Skimmia Japonica Fragrans – a lovely low growing shrub with cheerful upward growing leaves, red buds through the winter and wonderful scent in the spring. For the summer, you could grow Carpenteria Californica which has shiny evergreen leaves and rose-like white flowers with yellow centres.

For architectural interest and to further reduce your gardening, buy bigger specimens of the plant you want, which will create architectural interest. A good example of this would be Mahonia x Media Buckland, a large evergreen shrub with striking leaves, which produces huge sprays of the most exquisite Lily of the valley scent in the spring.

Finally, use tricks. There are no rules to gardening, so do what you like. If you have a gap in a border or an area with no flowers, put a pot with bulbs in amongst other shrubs or actually sink the pot in the soil and take it out and replace with something else when those flowers are over. This way you can move colour around the garden, rather like the furniture. Youíll be in good company with head gardeners and Chelsea flower show exhibitors. There are no rules so have fun with it!

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