I’m often asked for a ‘low-maintenance’ garden.
But what does that actually mean … an hour’s work a day, week, month or year? Some people even seem to expect a garden to look beautiful with no maintenance.
With today’s busy lifestyles, I can understand why people want ‘low-maintenance’ – but I sometimes feel that they are missing the point of a garden in the first place. It reminds me of a young boy who is given old-fashioned building blocks for Christmas, and asks: ‘But what do they do?’
Gardens are full of life, and life doesn’t stay still. It grows! To care for your garden is to direct that growth like an attentive parent. You can be heavy-handed, or you can use a light touch. But some care for your garden is needed for it to be at its best.
The key word is care. It makes a big difference in the way you look at your garden. You don’t ‘maintain’ your children, or your pets – you care for them, and raise them. If this attitude is brought to gardens, I believe questions of ‘low-maintenance’ and ‘high-maintenance’ become largely redundant. You’ll put more effort into your garden when you see it as something to care for, and not a chore.
A garden will reward your effort. This reward is both immediate – it’s a form of meditation, taking you away from your daily challenges as you focus on each plant’s needs and your normal garden tasks – and delayed, as each plant responds to the work you have put in. A plant may reward you with a beautiful flower display, or it may thicken up to form a nice hedge after you have trimmed it back.
I get excited when I see a past client in their garden, checking on plants, pulling out pesky weeds, and cutting flowers to display in their home. It shows they care for their garden, and have made it their own. To them, it’s not simply a garden they have bought, or that has been given to them. They own it, care for it, and they reap the rewards.