Top spring space-saving planting tips
I’m one of the bloggers at Garlic & Sapphire, the Sarah Raven blog, so I get invitations to Sarah Raven Open Days. And I’m always on the lookout for planting tips that make the most of space, time or money.
I called this blog ‘the middle sized garden’ because people with town courtyards refer to my garden as big, while those with sprawling country acres consider it ‘tiny’. But space is definitely an issue – in under quarter of an acre, I’m not sure where I would put a greenhouse, for example. And great swathes or ‘drifts’ of any plant aren’t possible unless I were to be very much more disciplined as a gardener than I am.
Tulips and lettuce
The number one space-saver (and also time-saver) that caught my eye at the Sarah Raven Open Day was under-planting tulips with lettuces. The frilly leaves of the lettuce look great under tulips and covering the earth means fewer weeds and less weeding (yay!). There were two kinds of lettuce-and-tulip combinations: lettuces in amongst the tulips and alternate rows of lettuce and tulips. Both looked great.
The lettuce varieties seem to have been chosen to echo the tulip colours, like these pinks and reds below. I would be interested to know whether being planted amongst the tulips protects the lettuce from pigeons – my main problem in growing salad is that the pigeons strip the beds bare.
Lettuces and hearts-ease viola is another sweet combination and would look great in pots or window boxes (the violas are hard to see unless you’re close up).
Use herbs to create shape and colour in flower beds
Another good food-and-flower combination – useful for anyone who doesn’t have space for a herb garden – was to interplant herbs in flower beds. I especially liked bronze fennel and roses, which I’m going to try with my dahlias. My parsley also gets quite majestic and frothy, so I might try interplanting parsley in the flower beds, too.
More planting ideas…
Not a space-saving tip, but a neat idea – turn your obelisks upside down to create a more open space for climbers. Here a big chunk of euphorbia wulfenii hosts an upturned obelisk. This does show how good it looks to mass plants together – but I have a feeling that this many euphorbia is a ‘big garden’ planting scheme rather than a middle-sized one, unless you’re prepared to dig all the euphorbia up when it’s over and re-plant with something else. But that is not a middle-sized attitude -we always go for the quick and easy ways to garden, and digging up borders twice a year is neither quick nor easy.
And finally, if you do have the space or the self-discipline for a ‘swathe’, I thought these cardoons looked very impressive.
And, on the way home, the woods were filled with wild garlic, and all the roads were lined with it, so we couldn’t resist a very small spot of foraging. Posy’s outfit seems perfectly colour-coordinated for woodland activities…
The next Sarah Raven Open Day is Tuesday 3rd June. There are more details here.