Making Time: With Maxabella
This post was written by Maxabella.
Lots of people I know save their pennies and get some help around the house. So do I, but it’s not a cleaner that I save for – it’s a gardener. Our gardeners come only once a month, but what a difference they make to our quality of life. I mean that sincerely. Having a well-tended garden is such a daily delight. It makes me happy just looking at it and even happier being out in it.
See, I’ve never quite understood the cleaner thing. To me it’s lots of money invested in creating clean surfaces for my children to instantly mess up again. They still mess it up when it’s me doing the cleaning, of course, but at least then it doesn’t feel like they’re taking $20 bills and ripping them up before my very eyes. No, when they mess up my own cleaning it only feels like they are ripping up my heart… um… note to self: reinvestigate reasons for not wanting a cleaner!
Anyway, gardens are a lot of work so my once-a-month gardener indulgence isn’t quite enough to keep everything looking glorious. That’s why over the years I’ve discovered some tried and tested ways to get that ‘well-tended’ look, without the well-tended time commitment. The more time I save in the garden, the more time I have for relaxing in it with a nice cold glass of aaaaah-that’s-better.
1. Install a drip irrigation system on a timer
This is possibly the best money I’ve ever spent on the garden. There is nothing quite like doing the watering from the comfort of your adirondack and installing a timer system means you don’t even have to remember to switch the tap on. If watering the garden is what you like to do to relax, you can still get the hose out and water all you like and save your drip irrigation for the heat of Summer or for when you’re away. Remember what they say, deep and irregularly is the best way to water.
2. Try to plant things that will grow without attention
There are loads of plants that need little or no care. Bulbs are awesome and our beds are packed with both Spring and Summer flowering bulbs. Year after year the fragrance of the freesias is an experience like no other and all we ever do is throw down some compost each year after flowering and let them die back under the late-Spring foliage.
Plenty of Aussie natives will also hang on through the worst heat, rain and even cold without so much as a glance their way. To decide what to plant, have a look to see what is thriving in other gardens in your street and you can’t go wrong.
Exotics like daphne, English ivy, dracaneas, philodendrons, peace lillies and many succulents would also prefer you to leave them in peace. Plant these sorts of plants in the right spot and in abundance and your garden is pretty much guaranteed to look well-cared-for all year round.
3. Embrace the weeds
You could spend your life weeding the lawn and garden beds (our neighbour certainly does), but what exactly are you pulling out? Getting the grass out of the beds is pretty important, but unless they are classed as noxious weeds (you will know if a plant is a noxious weed if you are suddenly at war to reclaim your garden), the rest of the weeds might surprise you if you give them a chance. We have so many sweet little flowers pop up in Spring time that technically aren’t ‘supposed’ to be there. We only found out they existed when we failed to pull the ‘weeds’ one year. These days we lay down a thick layer of newspaper on top of the soil, top with a layer of mulch and then leave nature to do what she does best: create a beautiful arrangement of plants.
4. Plant herbs and vegetables within easy kitchen access
Plants like herbs and veggies need close care to thrive, so it makes sense to plant them within easy reach. If they’re close by to where you’ll use them, you are more likely to remember to care for them and then pick them when it’s time. This might mean you need to plant in pots, rather than the garden and that’s okay. It’s well known that herbs go well in pots, but all kinds of vegetables thrive in shallow pots too – you can even grow them in hessian bags or boxes.
5. Stick to beautiful foliage and then flowers are a bonus
At our place we mostly grow perennials with lush, colourful foliage – I’m not that into flowers. Then again, so much of that lush foliage bursts into flowers at one time or another that I might be mistaken. Agapanthas, geraniums, gerberas, daphne, gardenias, lavender and magnolias are just some of the blooms we enjoy with practically no maintenance required. When the flowers aren’t there, the garden still looks lovely with lovely silvers, reds, purples and every shade of green looking awesome.
At the risk of sounding like Costas Georgiadis – the hairiest man on television if not the entire planet – I urge you to get out into your garden and have a think about how you can make it lovely on much less time. It’s so easy to do and so worthwhile.
How does your own garden grow? Do you love it?
Maxabella is a mum of three, a blogger and the Editor of Village Voices.
This post is part of the Time Shavers story, brought to you by Schick Intuition.