Are there any NO maintenance plants/flowers that I won't be able to kill?(46 Posts)
I am a hopeless, hopeless gardener. I have managed to kill spider plants. I don't water enough, or I water too much, or I don't give them enough sunshine, or I give them too much-I kill everything.
We've recently moved house and have actual outdoor space for the first time. I need to tackle the garden but I thought I could start by getting some pots and something very resilient for the front of the house. (Which gets sun in the morning if that makes a difference.)
Is there anything out there I can plant and then basically forget about and it will survive and flower and be pretty? Or something that's so easy to look after that even I can't mess it up?
ComeIntoTheGardenMaud - unless there are deer. Deer love the taste of roses...
No deer, though if there were they could eat the whole garden and I wouldn't mind. <wistfully longing for an estate in the country>
I went to Barnitts today armed with your advice and have come back with various packets of seeds, a small trowel and some gloves. I feel like a real gardener
Ah yes. Being a very urban gardener I don't have to think about or contend with deer. Would they even eat the thorniest roses?
They don't eat the thorny bits. Just the nice new growth. My roses have been reduced to thorny sticks. It took me ages to figure out what was eating them, I saw a colleagues garden with the same problem and he'd seen the deer eating his.
yy to clematis, I thought mine was a weed to begin with and pulled it up but somehow it kept coming back
Lavender will not do well in a clay soil. Waterlogging over the winter will kill it off.
Before you start planting you need to dig organic matter into your soil wherever possible. Otherwise you'll just be throwing your money away. Well rotted manure or spent compost is ideal.
It's really worth doing this first to avoid wasting your money and time.
What's spent compost? I don't know where I'd get manure-we're not near any farms or anything. Or do garden centres sell it? We don't have any beds at the mo, just very bumpy lawn with some weeds/bushes at some points round the edges.
Spent compost is the stuff you throw away when repotting plants.
Manure is sold at some garden centres, but if you're going down that route then you might as well buy some sacks of soil improver (which is just rotted mulch really). Buy whatever is cheapest, and plenty of it.
A clay soil can be a really good base for creating good soil. It is full of good minerals. If you put the work in to break it up and create good drainage you'll always have healthy plants.
Dig with a fork (never a spade) and go as deep as you can, turning the soil over and incorporating your choice of organic matter as you go. Mixing in some horticultural grit might be a good idea too.
Basically you are making a big loose crumble mix, like you would in the kitchen. Keep turning over and mixing until you don't have any big clay lumps there.
Dig deep so that you don't leave a poorly draining layer just below the plants roots.
That has given me an idea. There's a big patch on the lawn where there isn't much grass but there are loads of weeds where the previous owner had a shed that he took with him. Maybe I can dig that up and have it as a sort of 'practise flower bed'. I'll see what I can keep alive, really focus on that one bit of the garden and then go from there, depending on how I do. At the moment it's awful to look at so I can't make it much worse, and it's sort of a ready made bed shape anyway. And if it all goes tits up I can dig up whatever I've planted and just let it go back to grass...
I'm going to need a big fork!
My pot has survived the night by the way
After some initial digging-in to improve the soil structure, you may find it's enough to put a good layer of compost/manure on the soil and leave the worms to do the work of pulling it down into the soil. It's worked for me on very heavy clay soil - the difference that year after year of composted bark has made is incredible.
Have you got heavy clay then?
What worked for me was the mint which spread everywhere. When I eventually got round to gardening the mint roots had broken up the soil and I removed a lot of it (and most of the nettles) and dug in loads of leaf mould. And now I dig in compost every time I plant something. And I dig really deep wide holes to plant into (not the minimum like I used to).
My compost is a combination of heavy clay soil I have dug out to plant things plus autumn leaves plus grass clippings plus well rotted horse manure from a bag.
I dont put other fancy stuff from prunings etc in it because I'm scared I might spread weeds/fungus because it has been so damp.
Now my plants survive and occasionally I even get flowers!
So the mint turned out to be very friendly.
I couldn't even get the mint to grow in parts of my clay soil, I've got some real boggy patches. There are loads of plants that grow well in boggy soil- some types of iris, my bergenias are doing really well, creeping jenny too but the damn stuff takes over very quickly so not really low maintenance.
Ash is also good for breaking up clay soil a bit. We also use tons of homemade compost from kitchen scraps, grass cuttings etc.
Our biggest mistake was double-digging, which brought a lot of solid clay to the surface. Hence my preference now for mulching and leaving the worms to it.
hardy fuchias & lavender that do well under my neglect
daffodils and crocuses come back every year too
Am making notes too from this thread!
Have just planted a jasmine, along with the lavender.
Where is the best place for cheap(er) plants? I have lots empty borders in my garden. I've bought 3 plants for the garden from my nursery and that was the budget gone!
Best places for cheap/free plants are Freecycle, school fetes and the like. J Parker is one of the cheaper websites, although i fibd the quality very variable. Nurseries are often cheaper than garden centres, although garden centres sometimes have "pile it high, sell it cheap" deals.
Thank you ComeIntoTheGardenMaud, I'm going to keep my eyes peeled!
Japanese anenome (sp?) - also self-seeds
Indestructable only applies to weeds , brambles and ivy in my garden. A brilliant yellow ground cover, that I though were buttercups, turned out to be Callendula, but that is like a weed as grows where it wants to and I can';t get rid of it - similar is creeping jenny, both brilliant yellow flowers and very low growing. Holly is indestuctable, but gets rather large . My yellow leaved jasmine in the sun is gorgeous, but getting a bit out of hand now after 10 years. The Acuba - yellow spotted laurel planted on the shady side , grows anywhere and is prunable. My Japanes Anemones are indestructable too, but need staking as tall and fall over in my garden. But the bindweed and ivy are a nightmare, especially the former, as if i don't look for a week its wound itself up one climbing rose in a shot at around 6 metres or more. It hasn't killed the rose though
Sedum - I have one in a pot that is totally neglected and flowers beautifully every autumn. Also Sea Cotton for borders - spreads like wildfire but easy to cut back and has prolific white flowers. We have a house which we bought from new 16 years ago and it is only now that the soil is good enough to sustain plant life.
If you've clay, then (like me) roses, aquilegia, alchemela mollis, peonies will all do well. Silvery-leaved things (eg sentolina, lavendar) will not. Nor will bulbs. Nor meditarranean herbs. Boo!
definitely spend some time and effort on soil improvement - autumn planting not the best on clay as roots get cold and wet over the winter. Don't dig it when it's very wet - in fact, don't even think about digging it when it's very wet. It ruins the spoil structure and is knackering.
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