or some, the fun of gardening is in the fact – the staking, dead head, weeding and watering that keep plants in top condition – like thoroughbred racehorses. Others prefer to enjoy their flower beds, pots or planters from a reclining chair.
If you are in the latter camp, and many Londoners are short on time, what you need are plants that you can pretty much ignore, but which will fill your space with color, scent and greenery. It may seem like a difficult task, but follow these tips and you will be able to maximize your flower power without reducing your downtime.
Store the watering can
If the thought of watering puts you off gardening, you just need to plant the right things.
If you get a lot of sun, go for anything with Mediterranean on the label, as these hardly need watering as long as you give them a really good soak when you first plant them.
Lavender, salvia caradonna, rose campion, ornamental grasses like miscanthus and horsetail grass (stipa tenuissima) and sedum matrona can be ignored even in hot weather, as can herbs like thyme, rosemary and oregano.
For the pots, plant pelargoniums, houseleeks or Mexican fleabane, which have clouds of pretty daisy-like flowers and will also spread into the cracks in the paving and steps, giving quite a soft and romantic appearance.
If your outdoor space is shady, even under a tree, don’t despair: plant Foxgloves, Dusky Geraniums, Astrantias, and Langoustine Ferns, water once and then let them go.
Topping the list for a hands-off gardener is a plant that can stand on its own. Even small spaces need large flowering plants, but supporting them can be an art form, especially if you don’t want bamboo and twine to dominate the scene.
Forget about the very heavy delphiniums, peonies and dahlias and instead opt for self-sufficient people like Verbena bonariensis, gaura (bee flower), sanguisorba and fennel, with tall airy stems topped with flowers. Add ornamental grasses like purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea transparent) or giant oat grass (Stipa gigantea) and you will have shimmering golden flower heads to add to the mix.
If you get plenty of sun, these will soon settle into a nifty tangle reminiscent of Mediterranean hills and they’ll sway and bend against the wind, soccer balls, and marauding dogs, coming out unscathed. If you don’t get a lot of sun, Japanese anemones are a cool, low-energy alternative planted with Japanese forest grasses, ferns, and woodruff.
Go weed-free in the garden
If you’re allergic to weed control, grow plants that don’t give dandelions a peek. Hardy Geraniums and Lady’s Mantle are your friends as they quickly cover bare soil so weeds cannot establish themselves. Another big smother is the hardy Jerusalem sage, which will soon form a carpet of evergreen leaves and pale lemon blossom spiers.
No need to be sharp
Dead head – cutting off flowers when they’re finished to encourage a plant to produce new ones – can be relaxing for some. But if strolling in the garden after work, snippers in one hand, drinking in the other doesn’t sound like fun (don’t hit it until you’ve tried), avoid the sweet peas and the cosmos and plant some plants. things that simply don’t need a one-on-one.
Geraniums or hardy geraniums are your must-haves, flowerbed knitters who mix everything up. Rozanne and Orion will grow anywhere, forming a carpet of purple flowers, while the magenta Patricia basks in the sun.
Advice from a gardening pro “without intervention”
In Forest Hill, South London, Julie McMurtrie is good at finding plants “without interference”. Community gardening enthusiast, who shares her images on Instagram @ 365daysgarden takes care not only of its own garden, but also of the neighboring plot and a community space at the end of the road. âI tried to keep the planting low-maintenance so that I didn’t have to keep going in and watering,â she says.
Outside the community cafe, Julie ripped up the paving and planted cistus and lamb’s ears and never had to water them. Next to it, she’s combined a “huge and gorgeous” cardoon with tree mallow, while hers is a colorful freestanding mass of geraniums, lady’s mantle and sisyrinchium that people stop to take photos. All require little attention and no additional watering.
His best advice for a plant without intervention? âBowles’s Mauve Perennial Wallflower – it blooms in my garden all year round. And don’t forget the geums, they bloom all summer without tumbling.