Although when you first plant lavender you might need to make sure it’s watered fairly regularly, once established, lavender will take care of itself even during periods of limited rainfall. Its woody stem keeps it fairly sturdy and its shape looks naturally good when growing ‘wild’ though it’s quite easy to prune back if you prefer. Most British soil types suit lavender but make sure it doesn’t sit in soggy soil that doesn’t drain well.
Try: Lavender angustifolia (‘English’ lavender) – it has pretty purple flowers and thrives without much tending, even in colder weather.
These don’t need a premium spot in the sunniest part of the garden, and they like soil that isn’t too wet or too dry (perfect for the UK). Geraniums are fairly free from suffering with insects, except whitefly. It has a woody stem so it’s fairly sturdy against wind and rain. If your garden suffers badly from frost you might want to take them in during the coldest months but even geraniums left to fend for themselves might well surprise you if the cold spell doesn’t last too long.
Try: Regal geranium – they are happy to flower for a prolonged period through the late spring and summer.
These are in flower from March to May which means you’ll get a burst of early colour before anything else comes to life (possibly earlier if the winter turns mild). It enjoys partial shade and also likes moist soil so there might be the need for the occasional watering during extended dry periods.
Try: Primula vulgaris – a perennial plant that doesn’t grow tall but looks pretty and is native to this part of Europe.
If you’re bamboozled by the different kinds of plant but you want lots of flowers year in year out, go for ‘perennials’.
Pass it on – expert do’s and don’ts
Check out five simple rules for the gardening beginner from landscape gardener Will Nash.