Buying your first home is likely to be pretty time-consuming; chances are it's also the most expensive purchase you have ever made - so quite stressful as well. But becoming a first time gardener doesn't have to be any of these; in fact, it’s one of the few household activities that you can do purely for fun.
The last thing you want when moving into your new place is yet more items on that stuff-to-do list. And when thinking about ways to make your new home warm and welcoming, neither do you want a shopping list that eats into a carefully worked out household budget: cheap and cheerful is the best way to go.
So, what kind of plants might fit the bill for the first time gardener who doesn't fancy plunging head-first into the compost heap?
Like many people, my experience of becoming a garden owner didn't actually start with a garden. Instead, it involved a row of supermarket herbs, spontaneously stuffed into yoghurt pots on a sunny windowsill. These provided much-needed greenery and something instant to pep-up a sandwich or sprinkle on to salad or soup. From here I progressed to my very first bay tree, in a proper pot, strategically situated in a shady corner outside the back door... But all that was before I discovered succulents - my go-to recommendation for first time gardeners everywhere.
Here you can see how one baby plant (given to me by a friend), placed in a handful of soil and gravel in an old terracotta pot and watered about once a month (no kidding), has developed into a garden-in-miniature:
Add another upturned pot underneath and suddenly you have a garden 'feature', of the kind much-loved by garden presenters on the telly...
(Ryan use image 2)
This plant will sit outside over the summer months and come indoors for the winter (most succulents are not frost-hardy in the UK).
So, no need of land, tools or prior experience (I use an old steak knife and a kitchen fork for weeding and repotting). Plus, I now have choices: this plant can remain as-is - with the larger plants arching elegantly over the sides - or I can break pieces off to pass on to my keen gardening neighbours. Alternatively, I might dismantle the whole plant and repot each section individually to make festive gifts for family and friends - it really is that simple!
Just remember that:
-- Succulents store moisture in their fleshy leaves and can be killed by kindness - so don't over-water!
--They need good drainage - a half-and-half mix of soil and gravel is good.
--If they discolour or shrivel up, move them to a different position. Succulents can tolerate quite low light-levels, so a bookshelf or bathroom may work well.
--Protect surfaces with a plate or tray underneath the pot (which should have at least one drainage hole; succulents don't appreciate soggy bottoms).
And there you have it: happy gardening!