A Low Maintenance Garden
All the famous gardens you see in magazines or on the television are the result of thousands of hours of hard work. Few of us are able to toil full-time in their gardens (don’t I know it), and not many can afford to employ gardeners to work on their behalf. With longer working hours, later retirement dates and an ever-ageing population, the lure of the “Low Maintenance Garden” is getting stronger by the day.
We were called in by a client in Donisthorpe, Leicestershire, to bring some life to their dull, featureless back garden. The brief was to create an interesting space with fruit trees and space to grow produce, together with colourful planting, and the whole scheme was to be as low maintenance as possible.
The existing garden was a totally blank canvas – the only feature being a mystery gravel path which lead nowhere – and the plot sloped slightly uphill away from the house. Here’s the garden before we started work:
Lawns can be one of the most time-consuming garden features of all, so we decided to break the space into sections with two circular interlocking, stepped artificial lawns. A gravel and sandstone path lead around the lawns to a sandstone circle seating area, while the outer edges of the garden were planted with herbaceous perennials and shrubs, with ground cover planted into the gravel path to soften the edges.
To give the plant borders a contrasting backdrop on which to perform as they grow, the existing fences were stained black, and we installed some small trellis panels to break the borders into sections.
The planting consisted of a mainly pink/purple palette of Penstemons, Echinacea, Geraniums and Irises, with a structural foliage planting of Phormiums, Melianthus major, Fatsia, Hosta, Euphorbia and Carex. Trees included Gleditsia, Amelanchier, a standard Photinia, as well as a pear and a Victoria plum. Bulbs included miniature and regular Narcissus, five varieties of Tulip in various shades of pink and purple, Alliums and Leucojum, and the path was planted with Erigeron, Thyme, Armeria and Stachys.
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