Are you a gardener who is pushed for time or prefers sitting out and relaxing amongst the flower beds rather than constantly maintaining them? I don’t blame you. As more and more of us gardeners are pushed for time, sometimes we wish for plants that can get on with it without our constant support! If this sounds like you, then this guide is going to help show you 8 plants that are bulletproof for your garden. Whether you’re trying to avoid slugs eating your leaves, leave the pruning until later on, or plants that flower non-stop without needing to be babysat, then these 8 plants are going to become your secret weapons in your flower beds!
Alchemilla is the secret weapon of both designers and wise gardeners. This truly bulletproof plant often goes by the name of Lady’s Mantle. It’s a deciduous ground cover plant that truly comes to life when it rains. The water droplets pool like mercury, giving it the alchemy-themed Latin name. From May to June, it sends up acid green flowers. Self-seeds everywhere, and rabbits and slugs leave it well along. In fact, this plant is almost too fuss-free. It will happily grow anywhere. So make the most of this for awkward gaps and borders that need filling.
Seeds are available to buy from the RHS Plants Shop.
Geranium 'Johnsons Blue'
This Geranium is another favourite for fuss-free flowering. It blooms in May and is covered in purple to blue flowers. It will grow in any soil, is readily available as plug plants, can be divided for more free plants and not many pests go near it for some reason. The secret weapon of this plant is to give it a chop after the first flush of flowering finishes, even with a pair of scissors brutally before you head out to the office in the morning. Then in another month's time, it is ready to flower again!
Available to buy in 9cm pots from Crocus.
If you have gaps in your garden or need a shrub that will soon ‘hold space’ and give some fabulous foliage, then a Dogwood is for you. This red Dogwood provides a nice ‘blob’ of foliage in the spring and summer. White flowers will then cover it for bees and wildlife, but the beauty is when it drops its leaves in the winter. Its fiery red stems will set fire to the garden in the colder months. Rabbits will leave it alone as will slugs. The best part? If it gets too big or shows dull stems cut it back to the ground in early spring. It magically regenerates quickly after a few months. Super fuss-free!
Available to buy pot-grown or bare root from Best4Hedging.
Now Buddleja gets a bad rep as it can be quite thuggish in the garden with its fast-growth habit and woody stems if left unpruned. Don’t let that put you off. Again this shrub is pretty much pest free and will attract plenty of butterflies to your garden, hence its common name, ‘the butterfly bush’. Like the Cornus, each winter hard-prune it back to 1-2ft above ground, and it regenerates. It’s a cracking good value shrub to fill a space, block out your noisy neighbours and attract wildlife. Wonderful!
You can shop a fab range of Buddleja Butterfly Bushes at Thompson & Morgan.
Geum 'Totally Tangerine'
Fancy livening up your garden borders with a neon orange blast during summer? Then Geum ‘Totally tangerine’ is the winner. Profusely flowering from May to September, this beauty is a tall, compact ground-cover herbaceous perennial. Used frequently at RHS Chelsea until people got tired of it stealing the show. Use this to your advantage. Pest free and a magnet for insects. Again if you need to chop it back mid-season, it will regenerate with yet more flowers!
Available to buy in a 1-litre pot from Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants.
The Blue Oat Grass is my secret weapon in low-fuss, high-impact flower bed design. Not many designers use this plant, and I’m not sure why. It’s an evergreen grass with long scrappy blue leaves. Mid-summer, it sends up gorgeous oats seed heads that bob and sway in the breeze. The best bit? Nothing eats it. It doesn’t even need pruning. Simply pop on some gloves and run your hand through it during winter to pull out the old spent stems. Think of it as a head massage for the grass. That’s it. Stunning, simple and dramatic.
Available to buy in a 3-litre pot from Bluebell Arboretum & Nursery.
Carex are a fantastic sedge for the garden. They provide a lovely tuft of evergreen strappy foliage no matter the weather. Available in a multitude of variegations and colour schemes, these little gems will help bring structure to the garden during the winter along with spring interest. Great when mixed with other herbaceous perennials and nearly pest free. They will cope with shade, full sun and drought once established. They will live for years in containers and don’t ask for much from the gardener once you’ve planted them.
Available to buy in 2-litre pots from Knoll Gardens and they recommend 3 - 5 Plants per square metre.
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Red Baron'
My last choice is a rather dramatic and somewhat statuesque shrub. The regal ‘Red Baron’ nine bark. This shrub will cope with shade or full sun and even exposure to the wind. It starts off small but will soon reach 6ft, and its bark has the most incredible ribbed texture during the winter when it sheds its blood-red leaves. In the spring, its leaves burst out, followed by white flowers. It’s an excellent back-of-the-border plant or use to fill a gap in a hedge or exposed viewpoint in the garden. You can even propagate it from softwood cuttings.
Available in a pack of 1 or 2 9 cm pots from J Parker's.
If you wish gardening was a little bit easier, why not incorporate some of these bulletproof plants into your garden borders? These plants will allow you to spend more time enjoying your outdoor space than providing life support for fussy flowers. You will spend more time in the garden and get your neighbours talking about how amazing your garden looks for most of the year. Why try harder?
Lee Burkhill (The Garden Ninja)
Lee Burkhill aka the Garden Ninja is a multi-award-winning garden designer, horticulturist, garden blogger, vlogger, TV Presenter and YouTuber. Hailing from the North West of England, Lee has an infectious enthusiasm for helping gardeners all over the world. The Garden Ninja is his garden design business and online gardening blog, and he was recently voted one of the Top 10 Gardening Bloggers and Garden Vloggers in the UK. Lee is also part of the BBC Garden Rescue Team, which you can watch on weekdays at 3.45 pm on BBC One or on BBC iPlayer. Here at Lazy Susan, we’re looking forward to sharing his exclusive horticultural tips, tricks and advice on our blog.