The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner creates tailor-made planting plans
The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner garden design software for creating tailor-made planting plans
The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner - the intelligent planting planner
The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner - the intelligent planting planner software
The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner - the intelligent planting planner software
The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner intelligent garden design software for creating tailor-made planting plans
The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner garden design software for creating tailor-made planting plans

Intelligent Garden Design Software

Living Walls

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

You know the scenario – you’re wandering around the garden centre, a horticultural show, a friend’s garden, and there’s this gorgeous little plant you desperately need to own. So you buy it (or dig up a clump if offered or take a few seeds). Your own garden is bursting at the seams. There is no room for a single extra plant, but how many gardeners are staunch minimalists who will stoically turn their backs on that enticing little plant?

Astrantia - for garden software blog

This winsome little astrantia didn’t need to do much eyelid fluttering before it was in my shopping trolley.

So the borders are bulging with delicious combinations of plants and you dig up more lawn for an extra bed. You plant up huge flower pots and hanging baskets. You drape fences with climbers – perhaps even cover the shed roof and the wheelie bin. Where next?
You could always try creating a living wall!
Vertical gardening is the craze that’s been sweeping the world. In our concrete and glass city centres, they are soothing to the eye, covering up ugly, decaying or just plain boring grey structures and creating new green spaces in our cities. Green walls lower the temperatures of buildings and help reduce the urban heat effect. They have been used indoors in countries with severe winters, like Canada, to counter Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And, of course, they are a work of art in themselves.
The living wall at Siam Paragon shopping mall, Bangkok

The living wall at Siam Paragon shopping mall, Bangkok

A tapestry of greens - garden design  blog

A tapestry of greens

Patrick Blanc, the French botanist and pioneer of living walls, is a garden artist, creating his living wall installations around the globe – Paris, New York, Tokyo, Dubai and Bangkok. His latest installation – ‘Rain Forest Chandelier’ at the new EmQuartier luxury shopping mall in Bangkok – looks visually stunning. It spirals down for over 100 metres, above the 3,000 square metre indoor tropical water gardens, 5 storeys above the streets of the country’s capital city.
Rainforest Chandelier - garden design, landscape design

The Rainforest Chandelier – a hanging green spiral at EmQuartier, Bangkok

Rainforest chandelier close-up, from garden design blog

Rainforest chandelier close-up view of planting

Since the plants on living walls must be able to survive without soil, relying instead on a nutrient solution, the careful choice of plants is essential. The first green walls were made with tropical species, plants observed to grow vertically in the wild without the need for soil. However, gardeners now use a much wider choice of plants, experimenting to find ones that can cope with being grown hydroponically.They also need to have interesting foliage, which looks good when viewed from underneath, and require little in the way of regular maintenance.
 Codiaeum variegatum for garden software blog

The colourful tropical plant, Codiaeum variegatum, is often grown as a house plant in cooler areas

Tropical plants such as Calathea, Codiaeum variegatum pictum, Spathiphyllum wallisii and the Philodendrons work well on indoor living walls – or outdoor walls in tropical regions! Tougher plants for outdoor walls include fuchsia, hebe, epimediums and ferns such as Cyrtomium fortunei and Asplenium.
Tropical plants - good for living walls, landscape design

Colourful tropical planting is perfect for indoor living walls

A Visit to the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

With a feeling of excitement, adventure and just a little trepidation, we recently set off on an amazing family road trip in northern Thailand. Stunning mountain scenery, tranquil tea plantations, fruit juice freshly squeezed at an orange orchard, a night of solitude with just the frogs and cicadas for company in an isolated hilltribe village awaited us.

Stunning Views

Stunning Views

After a particularly adventurous experience, lurching and jolting over a lonely mountain road not yet fully surfaced (but with the most fantastic view in the whole of Thailand), we headed back to the charming, moated city of Chiang Mai and civilisation.
Choui Fong Tea Plantation

Choui Fong Tea Plantation

On the way, we stopped at the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, near the little town of Mae Rim and about 30 miles northwest of Chiang Mai. Like many Royal Projects in Thailand, this one was beautifully designed – with more people working on the site than actual visitors! We passed a handful of other tourists, but most of the time the gardens were ours to explore. We stopped at the Lanna-style Visitor Centre near the entrance to ask for a Visitor Guide and, after some scuffling, one was finally produced – but it was the last one, I was told with a smile, and it seemed to have taken a bit of searching for!
The Visitor Centre at Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, Chiang Mai

The Visitor Centre at Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, Chiang Mai

A driveway meanders around the site, so that you can take your car in and drive through the grounds, pulling up at the side to hop out and inspect the plants, and leaping back into the air conditioning afterwards.

A number of trails are signposted along the way – the Waterfall Trail, Fern Garden, Banana Avenue – and, at the top of the site, is the Glasshouse Complex, with 8 glasshouses each housing its own collection of plants including water plants, bromeliads, variegated plants and medicinal plants.

Waterfall Trail

Waterfall Trail

The Waterfall Trail near the entrance is a lovely place to start. The path passes beside the low waterfalls where the Mae Sa stream tumbles over rocks and leads on pushing through the shaded undergrowth to the Orchid Collection.
Zephyr or Fairy Lilies

Zephyr or Fairy Lilies

Though our visit at the beginning of the rainy season meant that many of the outdoor ornamentals had finished flowering, it was a good time to admire the fairy lilies, which carpeted the ground as we climbed up the main drive towards the Glasshouse Complex.

And it was in the comparative coolness of the glasshouses themselves that we lingered longest.

Arid Plants Glasshouse

Arid Plants Glasshouse

The spikes and spines of the desert-dwellers – in the Arid Plant Collection.
Bromeliads Glasshouse

Bromeliads Glasshouse

Bright, pink-flushed Bromeliads, displayed amongst stone carvings and Thai pots.

Lotus Flower

Lotus Flower

Exquisitely layered blooms of the lotus flowers and water lilies in the Aquatic Plants Glasshouse.
Water Lily

Water Lily

Magnolia Time

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

It’s the Magnolia time of year again – every other garden boasts eye-catching, head-turning starry flowers.

Here’s one of my favourites: Magnolia stellata or Star Magnolia. Strokeable, furry buds and a starburst of pure white petals in March and April. Perfect in a woodland garden … or any garden really!

Magnolia stellata from Weatherstaff Planting Planner

Spring flowering magnolia stellata.

magnolia stellata at the Planting Planner

Magnolia stellata buds

The Sociable Little Campanula

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

Campanula poscharskyana landscaping software

Campanula poscharskyana

When we first began planting up our garden, my parents dug up from their own garden and donated fast ground-covering plants, like pretty blue campanula, to help cover some of the wilder areas at the top of the garden. These did the trick nicely, romping off to cover up the bare soil and could be cut back whenever we found a choicer specimen to replace it with.

We soon found though that the cheery, bell-shaped flowers seemed to get on remarkably well with whatever we chose to partner it with. It is just the perfect purple-blue to set against yellow, orange and pink, as well as making a great partner for silver and dusky or darker shades of purple. And, apart from needing to be pulled up when it threatens to scramble off into the ether, it’s an incredibly easy-going little perennial too.

Clematis tangutica Aureolin plant design

Clematis tangutica Aureolin

We planted a mixed green and purple beech hedge to section off the wild part at the top of the garden and set a metal archway into the hedge to lead into our ‘secret garden’. I planted this gorgeous yellow clematis to clamber up and over the arch and its perfect partnership with the spreading blue campanula at the foot of the arch was a wonderful, serendipitous combination.
Artemisia and Eryngium landscape software

Artemisia ludoviciana Silver Queen and Eryngium

Here, the purple-blue of the bellflower adds depth to the sophisticated combination of silvery Artemisia and ghostly-white Eryngium.
Fragaria Lipstick landscaping software

Fragaria Lipstick

Its unassuming nature makes the campanula a good choice for a ‘wild’ area. We planted up the base of the hedge with wild and wild-ish flowers, including this luscious lipstick-pink cultivated strawberry plant.
Eschscholzia mexicana and Geranium landscaping design software

Eschscholzia mexicana Sun Shades and Geranium Bill Wallis

This sunny combination of Eschscholzia mexicana Sun Shades and Geranium Bill Wallis demonstrates how well the purple-blue of the geranium brings out the best in these cheerful orange California poppies. Another future partner for my campanula perhaps?

Fact file : Campanula poscharskyana

from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner

The trailing bellflower is a cheerful, long-flowering perennial. Light purple-blue, star-shaped flowers, carried about 10cm above the ground, appear from late spring and keep going right through to early autumn. Its small leaves are semi-evergreen, forming a low mound with spreading stems.

A low-maintenance plant, it can be sheared back after flowering to keep it tidy.

The cultivar ‘Stella’ is a good plant to look out for, as it has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.


Garden plant fact file - campanula garden design

Garden locations

There aren’t many places which are not suitable for this versatile little perennial. It is a useful plant for providing groundcover, makes great garden edging and can be planted up in pots. It happily scrambles over banks and slopes and makes itself at home in both town and country gardens. Once established, it can spread quite vigorously, so it is particularly good in semi-wild areas. It can be grown in rock gardens too, but take care that it doesn’t romp away over more delicate alpines.

Cultivation

Campanula poscharskyana likes moist, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade.

Blackberry Days

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

Last night, as dusk was falling, I took the dog for a walk across the fields. The intense heat of the day had mellowed to balmy warmth, a gentle breeze drifting across from the estuary.

The scorching Indian summer is confusing the seasons. It feels like a glorious day in the heat of summer, yet the fields are harvested, the leaves are turning and the hedges dripping with dusky sloes and jewel-like blackberries. My two columnar pear trees, Beurré Hardy and one Doyenné du Comice, are heavy with fruit. The step-over is keeping the family supplied with crisp, yellow-red Falstaff apples.

It’s tempting to head off to the seaside to take advantage of this late offering of sunshine. Or pull out the sunlounger and relax with a good book. Actually, I think I might go blackberry picking – I feel an apple and blackberry crumble coming on….
Blackberries

More Low Maintenance Plants

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

Need a Low Maintenance Planting Plan? Click here

Top marks to those easy-going plants which perform spectacularly and never ask for much in return. Here are some more of my favourite low maintenance plants.

  1. Tiarella ‘Iron Butterfly’
    A stunning, clump-forming perennial, with attractive foliage and sprays of delicate flowers. Tiny, starry, white flowers, opening from pink buds, are produced in late spring, sometimes followed by a second flush in summer. The gorgeous, deeply-lobed leaves are mid-green with maroon markings and provide useful ground cover in woodland conditions.
    tiarella easy care plant

    Tiarella

    Rudbeckia sullivantii Goldsturm easy care plant

    Rudbeckia sullivantii Goldsturm

  2. Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’
    A mass of golden, daisy-like flowerheads are carried on upright stems from late summer to mid-autumn. A superb, late-flowering perennial, the cheerful yellow rays surround prominent black-brown, cone-shaped discs.
  3. Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’
    Just remember to cut back last year’s old stems to ground level in early spring and this elegant ornamental grass takes care of itself for the rest of the year.
    Strongly upright in habit, the linear, dark green foliage, narrowly margined white, arches at the top to create a cascading effect. In autumn, the leaves take on russet tones before fading to buff.
  4. Miscanthus 'Morning Light' easy care plant

    Miscanthus 'Morning Light'

    Eschscholzia californica easy care plant

    Eschscholzia californica

  5. Eschscholzia californica
    Scatter a packet of California poppy seeds in mid-spring and year after year, these brightly coloured annuals, in shades of summer sunshine, will appear, above delicate, ferny, blue-green foliage.

Tips for Low Maintenance Gardens

Lawns

You could replace grassed areas with hard landscaping, but if that’s a step too far, then consider the following:

  • Limit the amount of lawn that will need regular mowing.
  • Keep the lawn free of objects or trees which will be time-consuming to move or mow around.
  • Use a lawnmower that mulches – i.e. one that cuts up clippings very finely and blows them back under the standing grass so that you do not have to empty grass boxes.
  • Lay a mowing strip – a hard edging of paving or brick – between borders and lawns.
Boundaries

How much time can you afford to spend maintaining your boundaries?

  • Walls require little routine maintenance, fences need treating with preservative on a fairly regular basis, hedges need trimming at least once a year.
  • Informal hedges are much less time-consuming than formal ones but will tend to spread and take up more space.
Informal hedging low maintenance

Informal hedging

Mulching

Mulching will keep the time spent on weeding and watering chores down.

  • Sheet mulches, such as black polythene, can be laid over well-prepared soil. Plants are planted through the sheet, which is then covered with a more attractive mulch such as gravel.
  • The sheet mulch will help prevent weeds from establishing around your planting. Unless the sheet is perforated or a permeable fabric is used, plants will need to be watered carefully, directing water at the base of each plant.
  • If you want to encourage self-sown seedlings, don’t use a sheet mulch. A layer of gravel or bark chippings will make it easier to pull up weeds and help conserve moisture, reducing the need for watering.
Irrigation

Consider setting up an irrigation system through your Planting Area.

  • You can purchase an irrigation system from garden centres or online. Once set up, it will substantially reduce the amount of time you will need to spend on watering chores.
  • Automatic watering kits usually consist of a network of tubing, which is laid amongst the plants in your border and hidden under a layer of soil or mulch, connected to an outside tap. You can buy starter kits which provide all the components for a particular size border or buy the items individually and make up your own system.
  • Combining an irrigation system with a timer provides the ultimate low maintenance watering option and it will also look after your garden while you are away.
Raised Beds

Introduce some raised planting areas into your garden.

  • Raised beds are easier to maintain especially for anyone who wants to restrict the amount of time they spend kneeling or bending over.

Making a Family Garden

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

Need a Family Friendly Planting Plan? Click here

Our garden has grown with us. Our youngest child was born within weeks of moving in and spent the first summer being pushed around an empty plot in her buggy. Heavy snowfall that winter meant that her brothers, bundled up in hats and scarves and huddled together on their toboggan, could be pulled up to the highest point of the garden before sailing back down again. Our newly-built house stood in its newly-laid-to-lawn garden, the blank walls bare and the fences freshly painted.

Geranium Johnson's Blue Family Garden Ideas

Choose easy-going, reliable plants like Geranium Johnson's Blue

With time, both house and garden settled in, became more lived-in and weathered, more distinctly ours. We dug out our first flower beds and filled skips with all the builders’ rubble which lurked beneath the layer of pristine turf. We planted climbers and watched them clamber upwards, softening the brick façade. A pergola was erected along the path of the toboggan run, which didn’t seem quite so steep and exciting after the age of four.

This was our first real garden and we were virgin gardeners. We gardened by torchlight when the children were sleeping. We devoured gardening books in any spare time and discovered more and more things that we didn’t know we didn’t know. We bemoaned the lack of a computer program which could juggle all our plant choices and come up with stylish planting plans, just for us – but we hadn’t developed it then, so we did everything the hard way, searching out plants to suit our soil type, our windswept location, our colour preferences. And also to suit our children!

Girl planting - ideas for family garden

Give your children their own pot to plant up and take care of

The only poisonous plants I could list were foxglove, deadly nightshade and laburnum. Oh and the evil-sounding monkshood. So, I wasn’t planning to include any of these in my first plant shopping list. But I discovered there were a whole host of plants waiting to attack my unsuspecting family! We had carefully child-proofed the house – cupboard locks, door stoppers, electric socket covers. Now we needed to do yet more research into garden safety.

The majority of garden plants are safe to handle. Many commonly grown plants may cause a mild stomach upset if ingested and/or skin irritation. Some are extremely unpleasant. All parts of the ubiquitous daffodil, for example, can cause severe discomfort if eaten.

Boy and sunflower family friendly gardens

Fast-growing sunflowers are great for family gardens

While our children were small, we made a conscious effort to exclude poisonous and prickly plants from our garden, but also to adopt the strategy of teaching them from an early age not to touch or eat any plant without checking with an adult first. Now that they’re all head-height or above, we can see that they weren’t small children for very long at all. I’ll probably get to claim my lawn back from under the trampoline soon but I’m beginning to feel that day will come far too soon for my liking.

Need a Family-friendly Planting Plan?

The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner makes it easy for you to create a family-friendly garden. The interactive gardening software designs all-season planting plans for your garden, tailored to your garden’s soil and light conditions.

Choose your favourite planting style (for example: cottage, contemporary, Mediterranean) and pick your colour scheme. Select the Family Garden option as an Additional Planting Requirement. The PlantingPlanner will draw up a planting plan, which is suitable for all family members.

Buddleja - family garden ideas

Plant Buddleja for butterfly-counting fun

Cosmos atrosanguineus family friendly garden design software

Try growing chocolate-scented Cosmos atrosanguineus

Tips for Family Friendly Gardens

As well as avoiding plants which are prickly or poisonous, the following notes may be useful if you want to create a safe environment for children to play, which also offers a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere for adults to enjoy.

  • Play areas for young children should be sited close to the house, though older children may appreciate adventure areas which are more secluded.
  • Think about incorporating hiding places, stepping stone pathways and routes around the garden for great Easter Egg Hunts and Hallowe’en fun.
  • If you intend to grow your own vegetables or have regular barbecues, plan these areas in from the start.
  • Think about water safety if you have or plan to incorporate ponds or water features into your design.
  • Don’t forget a patio for relaxing or eating outdoors.
    Children in tree family friendly garden

    Climbing trees

    Child in family friendly garden

    Picking buttercups is child's play

Forest Bells

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

The ancient bluebell woods in April and May are a quintessential feature of the British landscape. Dappled sunshine. The fresh spring green of the returning leaf canopy. A  purple haze, colour-washing the woodland floor.

Bluebell woods garden plans software
We were delighted to discover wild bluebells springing up in our hedgerow when we moved to our new home. The elegant, lavender-blue flowers are narrowly tubular, their petal tips recurving like the hat of a fairy elf. Sweetly scented, they are carried on one side of the flowering stem only, weighting the slender stem down so that it arches at the top.
Bluebell woods garden design software

It is the slight and stately stem
The blossom’s silvery blue
The buds hid like a sapphire gem
In sheaths of emerald hue

‘Tis these that breathe upon my heart
A calm and softening spell
That if it makes the tear-drop start
Has power to soothe as well.

The Bluebell – Emily Brontë

Bluebell woods garden plans software
In spring, bluebells can be found in many of the woods of North East Europe and they are a common sight in much of Britain and Ireland. They are glorious at the moment in the Forest of Dean where I live and the scent on the breeze is all-pervading. However, the species is globally threatened and has greatly declined over the past half century.

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes

May Magnificat – Gerard Manley Hopkins

Common bluebell close-up garden plans software

Common bluebell

Spanish bluebells garden plans blog

Spanish bluebells

The common bluebell – Hyacinthoides non-scripta – is protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 but it is now under threat from hybridisation with the Spanish bluebell – Hyacinthoides hispanica, which is commonly planted in gardens.

When the Spanish bluebell escapes into the wild, it quickly hybridises with the native bluebell. Both the Spanish bluebell and its hybrids will out-compete the more delicate common bluebell.

Fact file : Hyacinthoides non-scripta

from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner

An enchanting, bulbous perennial, flowering in spring.
The plant forms a clump of glossy, linear, dark green leaves.
Upright stems, arching at the tip, carry one-sided racemes of scented, purple-blue, narrow bell-like flowers, with cream anthers.


Common bluebell garden software blog

Planting

Plant bulbs 8cm (3in) deep in autumn. Add grit to heavy soil to improve drainage.

Cultivation

Ideally, plant in drifts in light shade in moist, well-drained soil.

Allow the plant to set seed for an even more impressive show the following year. Overcrowded clumps can be lifted and divided in summer.

Wildlife Interest

The flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies.

Notes

Hyacinthoides non-scripta can be distinguished from the Spanish bluebell – Hyacinthoides hispanica – and its hybrids by its narrower bells and leaves and arching stems. Hyacinthoides hispanica is more upright, with wider flowers. The common bluebell is also pleasantly scented, has flowers on one side of the stem only and has cream pollen. If the pollen is another colour, such as pale blue or green, then the plant is likely to be a hybrid. Make sure you look at recently opened flowers before the pollen has been shed.

Easter Parade

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

The glorious sunshine of the past few days has beckoned me out into the garden. It’s always a little sad to see the cheery daffodils going over. Like the earlier snowdrops, I watch for them with eager anticipation but they are over too swiftly. This time, though, even as I pinch off the dying flowers, I’m distracted by signs of growth all around me.

Everything happens so fast at this time of year – blink and you miss it. A few days ago, the view from one kitchen window was dominated by a magnificent Magnolia stellata, swathed in white flowers and looking as though someone had tied white ribbons to every branch. In the opposite direction, our Amelanchier canadensis was equally heavy with blossom. For a little while, every trip to the kitchen had me marvelling from each window in turn. Now, the ground beneath each small tree is scattered with petals. Already the display is waning.

Magnolia stellata garden software blog

Magnolia stellata

All around the garden, though, there’s a parade of Easter belles, ready for their turn in the limelight. So what’s next?
The flame-streaked Prinses Irene tulips are opening by the garage, their fiery colours contrasting vividly with the cobalt-blue of their ceramic pot. Waiting in the wings – in the border next to the fence, my very own Sissinghurst White Border – are the green-white buds of White Triumphator tulips, poised to open into elegant, pure white flowerheads with flaring petal-tips.
In the same border, white dicentra is in flower, pretty heart-shaped lockets strung along stems which arch over a mound of ferny foliage. So, too, are the drumstick primulas, spherical clusters of white with tiny yellow eyes.
Tulipa 'Prinses Irene' Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner garden software

Tulipa 'Prinses Irene'

Dicentra Garden Design Software Blog

Dicentra spectabilis f. alba

White primula garden software

Primula denticulata var. alba

Guarding the edge of my fruit bed is the step-over ‘Falstaff’ apple, where the deepest pink buds are opening daily to pink-flushed white apple blossom. In the summer, the raspberry canes will be shoulder-high here but for now, it’s the apple tree, underplanted with tufty purple chives, which catches the eye.

The charming downy-soft, pasque flower signals that Easter is just around the corner. There’s a good-sized clump here now and I have to resist the urge to stroke the softly furry, nodding purple heads as I pass. When Easter is over, I’ll have their silky, silver seedheads to look forward to.

Falstaff apple planting software

Falstaff step-over apple tree

Pasque flower bud Planting Planner blog

Pulsatilla vulgaris bud

Fact file : Pulsatilla vulgaris

from the Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner

A delightful, spring-flowering perennial.

Pulsatilla vulgaris has finely dissected, light green, leaves, silky-hairy when young.

Softly hairy, flowers are carried in spring, upright at first then nodding as the flower ages. The pale to deep purple, bell-shaped flowers have a boss of yellow stamens surrounding a central, purple stigma.

They are succeeded by silky, fluffy seedheads.

Pulsatilla vulgaris Garden Design Software Blog

Pulsatilla vulgaris - the Pasque Flower

Cultivation

Pulsatilla vulgaris likes well-drained soil in full sun. It does not like being disturbed, so once planted, leave to settle in.

Where conditions are right, the plant may self-seed and provide a colony of these beautiful flowers.

Wildlife Interest

Pulsatilla is a useful source of early nectar for bees.

Marnie Easter blog, Garden Design Software

Marnie, our Easter Belle

Marnie Garden Design Software Blog

Marnie - bored already

Low Maintenance Gardening

from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software

Need a Low Maintenance Planting Plan? Click here

What I need is a full time gardener! Plus a cleaner, cook and handyman/woman. Then a nanny to take care of my children and present them to me, scrubbed and fed, for a goodnight hug.

No, not really. Like lots of people, I think I thrive on the adrenaline-fuelled daily adventure. Can I tick off all the jobs on my to-do list by bedtime? Not a chance! But for job-satisfaction, there has to be an element of manageability. The possibility that I can get through at least most of the essential tasks before the end of the day.

I love to race out into the garden and pit my weeding fork against the clock. I start off in early spring with the flower bed nearest the back door and work my way round. The weeds generally get the better of me, but that’ll be at the very top of the garden so I don’t mind so much!

So I don’t need a gardener, just a low-maintenance garden. One that’s fairly forgiving, so that if I neglect to prune or fertilise one year, I’ll get another chance next year. Where the perennials won’t flop in a sulk because I forgot to stake them early enough. Or the shrubs languish, leaf spotted and resentful. And while I’m more than happy with my stock of plants putting on a more impressive show year by year, I can’t be doing with vigorously self-seeding thugs romping their way through my borders and smothering everything in sight.

Here are some of my favourite undemanding plants. What are yours?

Easy-Care Plants

  1. Bulbs are fantastically easy to look after. Hardy, reliable bulbs which come up year after year include snowdrops, daffodils, aconites and crocuses. Narcissus ‘Thalia’ has nodding, slightly reflexed, soft white petals and cups, carried in pairs on each stem in mid-spring.
  2. Narcissus 'Thalia' Low Maintenance Garden Ideas Blog

    Narcissus 'Thalia'

    Ajuga and Galium Easy Care Garden Ideas Blog

    Ajuga and Galium - two gorgeous ground cover plants

  3. Ground cover plants hug the soil, suppressing weeds. Ajuga reptans is a creeping, evergreen perennial, spreading by means of rhizomes to form a mat of attractive foliage. Short spikes of deep blue flowers appear in late spring and early summer.
  4. Galium odoratum or  Sweet Woodruff is another superb ground cover plant, with the prettiest of fragrant, star-shaped white flowers from late spring to mid-summer. Whorls of bright green leaves make a low neat mat of foliage.
  5. The Mexican Orange Blossom – Choisya ternata – is a perfect choice for a low maintenance shrub – well-behaved and needing no pruning. Its glossy aromatic , leaves are evergreen, providing all year interest. White, starry, fragrant flowers, with delicate golden-yellow anthers, are borne in late spring and then, intermittently, through late summer and autumn.
  6. Choisya ternata Garden Plans Blog

    Choisya ternata

    Geranium phaeum 'Samobor' Easy Care Garden Plans

    Geranium phaeum 'Samobor'

  7. Hardy geraniums are versatile, reliable and attractive garden plants. Geranium phaeum ‘Samobor’ has distinctively marked leaves in dark chocolate. In late spring and early summer, clusters of dark maroon, reflexed flowers, with starry white centres, appear. Though tall, it usually grows well without the need for staking, particularly in informal areas of the garden.
  8. Trees are the ultimate low maintenance plant, once established in the garden. Amelanchier canadensis is a gorgeous small tree (or large shrub), with several seasons of interest in the garden. The oval leaves open reddish-brown, turning mid-green in summer and finally taking on orange and red autumn hues. In mid to late spring, a profusion of star-shaped white flowers appear. These are followed by small green berries, which turn red and finally blue-black in early summer.
Amelanchier canadensis Low Maintenance Garden Software Blog

Amelanchier canadensis - spring foliage and blossom

Need a Low Maintenance Planting Plan?

The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner makes it easy for you to create a low maintenance garden. The interactive gardening software designs all-season planting plans for your garden, tailored to your garden’s soil and light conditions.

Choose your favourite planting style (for example: cottage, contemporary, Mediterranean) and pick your colour scheme. Select the Low Maintenance option as an Additional Planting Requirement. The PlantingPlanner will draw up a planting plan, crammed with easy care plants, to help you create beautiful borders with minimum effort.

The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner for Easy-care Gardening

  • Chooses Easy-care Plants
  • When you select the Low Maintenance option, the PlantingPlanner will choose plants which do not need routine pruning, regular staking, spraying against disease and frequent dividing. Some plants which vigorously self-seed are also excluded.

  • Matches your Planting Conditions
  • You can waste a lot of time trying to keep plants happy that perhaps were never meant for your garden in the first place -planting a thirsty shrub in a dry eastern garden, for example, or an acid-loving plant on alkaline soil. The PlantingPlanner will always aim to satisfy your soil’s requirements, removing the need for you to continually try to change your conditions to suit the plants.

  • Provides a Graded Maintenance Schedule
  • For the time-pressed gardener, the maintenance schedule provided by the PlantingPlanner will provide a useful guide to prioritising garden jobs. Maintenance advice is provided for each selected plant and differentiates between significant, beneficial and low priority tasks.

The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner garden design software for creating tailor-made planting plans
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