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
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower