Time is money for gardeners on tight budgets | NevadaAppeal.com

Time is money for gardeners on tight budgets

For The Associated Press
**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** This Sept. 2, 2008 file photo shows sunflowers in bloom at a home in Worcester, Vt. A flower garden may seem like a frivolous expense in these tough economic times, but experts say there are plenty of ways to cultivate a beautiful and varied collection of blooms when money is tight. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, FILE)

Time can be more precious than money for busy families, including those trying to stretch paychecks by growing their own table fare.

A collection of low-maintenance flowering plants can add drama, too, even if limited to patios or windowsills.

“I’m constantly rethinking areas of my garden and seeking beautiful yet tough plants to replace demanding ones,” said Tracy DiSabato-Aust in her “50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants” (Timber Press, 2008).

“These plants should not only be easy to care for, but they should bring passion and excitement into our lives with their colors, textures, shapes and scents. It’s great if a plant is easy to grow, but if it’s of minimal ornamental value, who really cares?”

DiSabato-Aust says look for these practical attributes that save hours of work.

Here are some suggestions for making gardening quicker and easier:

• Buy long-lived plants, perennials that once established don’t need pampering, DiSabato said. Choose varietals that require little or no deadheading.

• Look for plants that are cold-hardy yet can endure long periods of heat and humidity. Buy plants and shrubs that don’t require much fertilizer. “Most of these plants (on her checklist) don’t require it,” DiSabato-Aust said. “Twenty-five of the 50 are drought tolerant.”

• Find plants that are deer-proof and resist insects and disease – natives that have adapted to local conditions. “That includes woodies and shrubs and trees and trophy plants,” she said.

• Involve family members, especially children, so you can share the workload while spending quality time together.

“Gardening is an investment in our future while connecting us with our past,” DiSabato-Aust said. “Our grandchildren will remember this. Plants can grow memories.”