This year there are easier and quicker ways to sow and grow, such as rolling out biodegradable mats impregnated with seed that you just settle on to the soil, and water. A pack of GroMat Gardens from www.mr-fothergills.co.uk contains a two-metre mat that, laid and watered, will deliver a spread of summer flowers in more than a dozen varieties — colour coordinated in either blues and purples or reds and pinks. If you grow edibles, sow faster and more accurately with tapes that hold vegetable seeds at regular intervals; just bury them beneath a layer of soil and water, and then wait.
Suttons (www.suttons.co.uk) has a good range now, and promises a range of cut flower seed tapes for next year. Meanwhile, you can throw and grow your own urban meadow, with onecentimetre clay balls (www.seedball.co.uk, or from Clifton Nurseries) that each hold about 100 wildflower seeds suspended in a mix of clay, peat-free compost and a pinch of pest-deterring chilli powder. Just fling them into pots, planters or on to spare ground for a wealth of wildflowers this summer.
Of course, there is always the option of buying plug plants, whether you want wildflowers in the lawn (www.wigglywigglers.co.uk), flowering annuals or young vegetables (every garden centre). These can be planted straight into the ground or container, whether you're after rocket, red campion or trailing verbena.
If you can't decide which vegetable varieties to grow in plot or pot, let the expert, Pippa Greenwood, take out the guesswork. She is sending out her tried-and-tested, tastiest choices in small to large collections from next month, with follow-up weekly advice to take you from planting to harvesting (www.pippagreenwood.com/grow-your-own). Meanwhile, foodies can add two newly available and ready-to-grow fashionable ingredients to their potagers: wild Italian asparagus crowns from dtbrownseeds.co.uk and Deep South sweet potato tubers — Carolina Ruby, Georgia Jet — from www.thompson-morgan.com.
Head gardeners who tend large plots look for short cuts. Martin Duncan, of Arundel Castle Gardens in West Sussex, enthuses about a roll-out turf ready sown with wildflowers that you cut to fit the shape you need.
He gets double flower power by planting bulbs before rolling out the turf so that, he says, you get a spring extravaganza followed by wildflowers. The dense sward acts as a weed blanket so the wildflowers get a head start, and the native grasses in the 50/50 flowers and grasses mix are selected to complement, and not compete with, the flowers.
Once you've watered the turf through the first season, you simply cut back in autumn. You can even buy a shade-tolerant turf to suit parts of the garden that receive little light, such as the dry, tricky area around trees; see www.wildflowerturf.co.uk.
Fancy a herb garden, but short on space? Let garden designer Antony Henn send you a box of aromatic bouquet garni consisting of seven chunky organic herb plants, the newest in his Garden on a Roll collection. The wooden box, which doubles as the planter, contains a bag of compost, full instructions and numbered plants to correspond with a numbered chart. All you do is place the plants in their positions according to the chart, add compost and water well. As the plants grow, either keep them in check by clipping or plant them in individual pots, window boxes or in the ground. See www.gardenonaroll.com.
You could make a bee and butterfly border, guided by the experts who provide plants for many of the Chelsea Flower Show gardens: Crocus, in association with www.waitrosegarden.com. Their planting recipe, comprising 27 plants for £139, promises a buzzing pink and blue summer border, as well as seedheads for birds.
That's what I call results gardening.
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