The one thing to plant, whatever space you have
Just keep this one alive
Ahead of the Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show at Tatton Park this week, we spoke to Lilly Gomm – a finalist at last year’s RHS Young Designer competition – to see which plants are rewarding, but not demanding
On your balcony
Looks good, smells good, tastes good. If all you have is a balcony, Lilly recommends planting some herbs. “You can just pop out while you’re cooking and pick some, your balcony always smells nice, and you get lots of lovely little flowers. I’d plant chives, which have really dainty pink flowers, thyme, and also mint. For mojitos, obviously.” Be careful with mint, though – it’s a boisterous little bugger so needs to be in a separate planter, like this one.
The listing said ‘garden’, but what it really meant was ‘tiny shady patch behind the kitchen to store the wheelie bins in’. Still, land is land, and you can get a nice bit of foliage in a small space. Lilly says, “I think what small gardens lack are evergreen shrubs, so I’d go for sarcococca. It’s got a really interesting glossy leaf but with tiny white and pink flowers. It smells amazing, and you’d always have a hit of green out there.”
In the house
We’ve tried cacti, we’ve tried peace lilies, we’ve tried aloe vera, we’ve killed the lot. If you are also a terrible plant mother, Lilly recommends an asparagus fern. “It’s not actually related to asparagus, but it looks quite similar to the plant. I’ve had one of these for ten years, and even if I go on holiday and neglect it, it always perks up straight away when I get back and water it. They’re really quite beautiful and don’t take a lot of care.”
If your house has a massive garden, we have two questions – how did you get that, and can we come over for a BBQ? However, if you don’t know what to do with all that space, plant some buddleja globosa. “I’m kind of obsessed with it,” says Lilly. “The bees love them, and they’ve got these globe-shaped yellow-orange flowers that burst into colour. Every year you just go and hack at it until it’s the size and shape you want – you don’t need a lot of pruning skill!”
Literally no surface space
“Hanging baskets have gone dramatically out of fashion,” says Lilly. We’re kind of glad – we have a few too many memories of being dribbled on by our grandmother’s gravity-defying roses. But that is not to say that you can’t dangle plants from the ceiling in other ways. Kokedamas – or Japanese moss balls – are an interesting alternative, and are a good home for ferns. And if you can’t be bothered to ball your roots, just buy a macramé hanger for your pots.