By Marty Ross
One of these days I’m going to have more time. I’ve been saying this for so many years, I am convinced it must be true. When that day comes, you’ll find me in the garden. I’ll move plants 3 inches, if necessary, to get the placement just right. I’ll plant a million spring-blooming bulbs every fall. My vegetable garden will flourish. I’ll plant elaborate miniature trough gardens full of rare plants and keep a meticulous garden journal.
Just at present, however, time is what I don’t have. I deadhead the zinnias on my way from the front door to the car door. I prune the roses with hedge shears. There’s not much lawn in my garden, and what there is I can mow in about 15 minutes on a Saturday morning. The amazing thing is, this is a very effective horticultural strategy. My garden is full of tough, reliable plants that really do not need much attention, and it looks terrific. Here are some of my techniques:
- Shrubs come to the rescue of busy gardeners. I start with small specimens. They’re inexpensive and easy to plant. In my garden I grow handsome varieties of hydrangeas, viburnums, witch hazels, boxwoods and a few other shrubs.
- Perennial plants come back year after year witout pampering. Peonies, hellebores, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, sedums, asters and hostas are beautiful and reliable in my garden and throughout the central Midwest. I grow them close together, so there’s not much room for weeds.
- I love spring-blooming bulbs. Over the years I have planted lots of daffodils—usually a couple of dozen at a time. They add up.
- Every time I dig a hole for a plant, I throw in a shovelful of compost. I’m improving the mineral-rich but heavy clay soil in my garden one hole at a time
- I keep the planter boxes on my front porch full of annual flowers and herbs. Each one is like a little cottage garden. They’re easy to care for as I come and go, and the hose is nearby.
- I don’t use herbicides or pesticides. The birds and the good bugs seem to have the pests under control, and the weeds aren’t that bad. I pulled one or two just the other morning on my way out to pick up the newspaper. A little bit of gardening in my fuzzy slippers gets the job done, first thing.