Say goodbye to watering and weeding with some ground cover plants

It feels like the perpetual keeping down of the weeds has been replaced by running around with the watering can sharing out precious fluid like liquid gold to wilting annuals.

The perennials seem to look after themselves a bit more reliably.

While scratching my head about this, I’ve decided that ground cover plants could be the answer to the ever-growing problem of water shortage.

It’s just a matter of days until the words ban, pipe and hose are rearranged and posted on the national news.

Ground cover plants prevent any dampness from evaporating as soon as the first ray of sunshine lands on them.

Therefore, if you have a well-filled border, bizarrely it needs less water and, of course, visually no weeding too.

Who needs a concrete and stone-covered ‘easy to maintain garden’ when you can get nature to do the work for you.

When you develop this growth mindset, you will quickly see bare earth patches as the enemy and want to fill them with what we might call ‘worker plants’.

These include geraniums, hebe, periwinkles and cotoneaster. Bugleweed ajuga is a favorite of mine and just pleases itself where it spills around.

Think of the way in late spring that forget-me-nots suddenly create a blue puddle, these plants can be just as effective.

Ivy and St Johns Wort can do a job here if you don’t mind them. The latter has the bonus of pretty yellow flowers and attractive green leaves.

Lady’s Mantle is another gap filler with its yellow fluffy head in a green ruffed collar making effective clumps of color to offset the brighter stars in the bed.

They even work well in more shady areas, too, keeping things nice and damp and just how they like it without adding water.

Even lamium or ‘dead nettles’ are better than bare soil and the bees love them, like they seem to do with most purple things.

Every type of bean is asking to be eaten fresh from the pod. Credit: pxhere

On the plot

As with visiting different gardens, you can learn a lot from visiting allotments.

I’m increasingly fascinated by how people create structures for beans to climb up.

Personally, I’m a traditionalist but I do get a bit jealous of those who make use of what they’ve got and end up with a better harvest than me. Particularly those who reuse hazel sticks like I’ve seen on the telly.

Now is bean harvest time and every type of bean is asking to be eaten fresh from the pod.

Borlotti, dwarf and French beans are all cropping now and it’s worth remembering to leave their roots in the ground for added nitrogen before the onions, tomatoes and sweetcorn go in next year.

Pick as many fresh currants as you can and rather than keep them in the freezer for five years, make a sauce for ice cream or some cordial by adding sugar and bubbling them in a pan.

The birds will have them if not and leave a purple splatter on your shed window for good measure. They really don’t care.

Check that the cabbages whites haven’t laid eggs through netting and smudge out any you find. While they are beautiful and essential, they will decimate your brassicas given half a chance.

I’m torn between being mesmerised by them and also wanting to take a shotgun to them.

Keep sowing winter cabbages, lettuce, spinach and beetroot. Tom Thumb lettuce will keep going until December at least given the mild conditions, so get one over on inflation by providing your own salads for nothing.

Although the sun’s rays have caused us gardeners a different type of problem, it’s still much better than barrowing manure on a freezing November day, so make the very most of it by chilling, hanging around, loafing, tea drinking and generally being active in the name of relaxation and nurturing yourself.

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