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THE INTERVIEW

THE
FIVE-MINUTE
GARDEN

Short on time and space? Let gardening guru Laetitia Maklouf help you flex your green fingers with her quick tips and seasonal shortcuts to creating a speedy spring garden

 



“You don’t have to own a garden, you don’t have to get dirty, and it won’t take up all of your time. It’s time to replace your fear of failure with a sense of fun, so take a deep breath and jump into the flowerbed.”

 

Gardening guru and author of The Virgin Gardener and Sweet Peas for Summer, Laetitia Maklouf has been described as “the patron saint of plants for anyone who doesn’t have a garden, who has never had green fingers, or who loves flowers, but glazes over at the mention of pruning and compost”. So, who better to give us tips on creating a gorgeous garden in minutes?

“I was a late starter when it comes to gardening,” Laetitia says. “I was in a bit of a slump and clearing out a cupboard when I found an old packet of seeds and planted them on a whim. And, despite the fact that I planted them in a mug with no drainage and neglected them, they grew. It was a sort of strange epiphany. Gardening does that, once it’s got you, it gets its roots in for life.

“It’s not about instant gratification, which is what we’re programmed to look for now. I always say, if you’ve got time to scroll on social media, you can make a garden – you only need five minutes. Start with a little container and a few seeds and then you can water it while you brush your teeth in the morning. Nothing can quite describe the feeling of

watching something you’ve sown grow. You also can’t forget that plants are wonderful for filtering the air and pumping out oxygen as well as simply looking pretty.

“There are two different kinds of projects you can take on easily – think pots in your kitchen grown from seeds, or buy a big container and something evergreen with space to plant seasonal plants around it; that way you have something to look at all year round. English lavender is great for that as it’s ever-grey and smells wonderful.

“My golden rule when it comes to easier planting is the bigger the pot, the less you have to water it. Terracotta pots will wick moisture away, while lined wood or plastic popped in another pot are perfect.

“And always remember, cheating is a good idea in gardening – there are lots of time-consuming things that you can avoid if you don’t enjoy them, like seed sowing by buying seedlings and young plants.”

The Virgin Gardener (£14.99) and Sweet Peas for Summer (£20) are published by Bloomsbury

Build your garden

SIX TIPS FOR SPRING

“Re-pot lavender into gritty compost and a slightly larger pot and don't feed it! These plants love a poor soil.”
“There’s nothing lovelier than a basket of spring flowers. Make your own with iris bulbs or buy a ready-made one. When the flowers are over, re-pot the bulbs so they’ll grow again for next year.”
“Keep re-potting lilac every other year or so, so that it doesn't get pot-bound, and spruce it up every year with a fresh layer of compost.”
Succulents are table plants – never keep them in your bathroom! They already hold water in their leaves, so don’t want to sit in a damp environment.”
“Start with what you love. If you’re a foodie, begin with herbs – they’ll give you a great grounding in everything.”
“Bay and olive trees are lovely urban structures that always look chic next to your front door – although they can be quite prone to frost, so beware cold snaps.”

EASY GARDEN IDEAS

Photographer: Jill Mead / Writer: Laetitia Maklouf / Editor: Emma Sleight

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