It is said that the success of any garden is attributed 60% to design and 40% to maintenance. I’m sure the exact numbers can be debated but these are such true words...
Over the past few years I have designed many lovely gardens of varying sizes and styles. In some instances, I have returned the following year to take early photographs and the gardens are looking good - well watered, tended and loved. On returning in future years, they are not prospering as you would expect. Why? Photographs I have hoped for are often not to be found - usually because the maintenance regime has been reduced through lack of time and also a lack of knowledge and an understanding of what and how tasks should be carried out and when.
A maintenance plan is one solution I give, which helps identify plants with images and explains month by month the tasks: what and when to prune, cut back, stake, divide and replant.
A lack of time is harder to deal with but with the correct choice of plants and the right amount of plants within a design it can be improved.
I always ask clients how many hours per week they will be able to work on the garden before choosing varieties for their planting schemes.
I have a good list of disease-resistant plants with no onerous maintenance that I use as the backbone to my schemes. Some good trouble free staples are:
- Campanula lactiflora
- Echinops ‘Veitch’s Blue’
- Gillenia trifoliata
- Hemerocallis varieties
- Liriope muscari
- Paeonia lactiflora types
- Salvia superba forms
- Stachys byzantina
- Veronicastrum virginicum forms
- Asplenium scolopendrium
- Dryopteris felix-mas
- Miscanthus sinensis varieties
Key September tasks are:
- Plant new perennials while the soil is still warm so that roots can establish before winter.
- Divide existing perennials where beds are getting overcrowded.
- Prune late summer flowering shrubs.