Spring into action: As our gardens burst into life a little hard work now can keep them that way for years to come

The season of fugitive beauties is upon us – carpets of fallen cherry blossom, huge pink camellia petals, and scarlet rhododendron trumpets. While the pleasures of the garden are coming and going this rapidly, it's easy to relax, but even in summer, it's always worth taking the long view: almost every gardener can cite at least one tedious job they wish they'd tackled years ago, because by now they'd be reaping the benefits...

Think long-term

Seven nice things you could do for your garden that won't pay off straight away

Asparagus: The ultimate long-term crop; plant it now and you'll be able to eat it come 2013. By which time, yes, I know, you plan to be living in Italy in your own olive grove. But do it anyway. Just in case. 10 crowns, £14.99 thompson-morgan.com

Palm trees: Buying a palm that doesn't cost a bundle requires accepting one with two leaves and about six inches of hairy trunk. But I planted mine that size 15 years ago, and it's now visible from halfway down the street. The secret is to forget about ever moving house. 15cm 'Trachycarpus' palm tree, £7.95, palmcentre.co.uk

Peonies: Over the next few weeks you will be tempted by the gorgeousness of these plants in full pinky-white bloom. But getting them to flower again after you've bought them can take years as they're notoriously slow to establish themselves. Plant them high up relative to the soil surface, in full sun, then feed well, and be patient. Raspberry Sundae, £9, claireaustin-hardyplants.co.uk

Blackberry and apple crumble: Fruit is quicker to mature than you think, but even the fastest apple tree (inset right) will have you waiting a couple of years. Lidl is selling fruit trees for £6 each, and two for £10 (lidl.co.uk)

Hedges: When I first moved to my house, I thought about planting yew hedges as an elegant, classic dark-green backdrop. Then I thought, that'll take way too long. A yew hedge would have taken some eight years to get 6ft tall. I've now been here for 15. You do the maths... Pack of 10 four-year old plants from £23.99, hedgenursery.co.uk, which provides all the RHS's bare-root hedging plants

Garden trees: A single well-chosen tree can change the whole feel of the tiniest garden, provide that delicious green shade on hot summer's days, and be a welcome screen from overlooking neighbours. Try a silver birch for modern minimalist style, or Amelanchiers for bouquets of wedding-confetti white. 'Planting with Trees' by Andy McIndoe (£14.99, David & Charles) is full of great ideas for garden trees

Grow an oak from an acorn: Kids have a natural tendency to pick up acorns, conkers, pips and berries. So why not encourage it, and this autumn sow a seed tray of wild fruits and nuts? They will need at least one winter to germinate, so don't fret if nothing sprouts till the following spring. Then watch your tiny oaks grow, and begin pestering your country-dwelling friends for space for your seedlings and a tree-planting ceremony.

Think short-term

Look no further than your nose for almost-instant satisfaction

Opium poppies: A crop that flourishes with little fuss in the sun and rain of Afghanistan's winters also enjoys an English summer. One packet of seed sown now will produce a crowd of blooms on beautiful tall grey-green foliage, which will seed again the following summer for free. 100 seeds Violetta Blush, £1.49, thompson-morgan.com

Mint: Buying pots of garden-centre herbs is relatively pricey, but provides an instant jolt of flavour in cooking. Always plant mint in a container separate from other plants as it's a profligate spreader – then sit back and enjoy the Pimm's. Mints from the Atlas Mountains to Tashkent, from £3.50, jekkasherbfarm.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey


Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game