Dear reader, I am a gardener. I make gardens for residential clients not landscapes. I expect some interaction between the client and the garden. Many, many people tell me they don’t want to spend time in their gardens for maintenance. So, let me explain something to you: the first thing to consider when you make your own garden is where you might put a seat or a bench. When you have a place to sit with some winter sun or summer shade, some fragrance, some water splashing, some butterflies wisping along, bees irritating your skin then you are touching something invisible, something you won’t always see in the mirror – your humanness! This is very important if you are alive. I am not explaining anything new, just reminding you that your main game in life is significantly, importantly enhanced by spending some time in nature even a confected nature which we call historically, a garden.
Now returning to maintenance, did you know that with a few structural placements of either vegetative or solid form such as hedges (either formal, which of course your gardener will have to clip maybe 3 or 4 times per year, or informal), stone or brick walls, mesh screens with vines (choose your vine to suit your need wisely) which may or may not provide privacy or enclosure but which largely govern themselves during the seasons you can make an eclectic, dynamic garden by just adding grasses like Miscanthus or Panicum and swathes of perennials like Penstemon, Salvia, Phlomis, Agastache and so many more. Adding what are known as accent plants you can easily make a garden which speaks to your cultural and aesthetic sensibilities. Perennials and grasses largely look after themselves until in winter they are cut back to almost ground level leaving the structural elements and accent plants to carry the garden until new growth emerges from them again for another cycle. And if the garden is a little bare for a month or two doesn’t that give you a valuable opportunity to reflect on your personal journey in life; the losses, the failures, the mistakes, the disappointments – don’t we need that, particularly if we are successful and robust most of the time.
Of course, your garden will need a bit of water in summer but your plant choices will determine how much you need and which can be controlled easily and inexpensively while you spend more time indoors, at the beach or on your seat or bench in the shady place you initially identified for respite and for loving your personal humanity.