Another low maintenance plant to consider for small spaces is the dwarf meadowsweet, or filipendula. Dwarf meadowsweet increase slowly and function as a ground cover. Their sedum-like blooms are airy, but their deep pink stems add definition. The blooms remain attractive for several weeks. This is an underused, really great plant.
Astilbes, on the other hand, are often promoted as easygoing shade garden plants. But I have found them to be heavy feeders that need lots of water or they fry and disappear—which puts them in the “not easy” category in my book. Each spring I vow to feed heavily and water often, but halfway through July, I seem to lose focus. Not surprisingly, most of my astilbes fail to do more than survive, and they only bloom sporadically.
This dwarf astilbe(cultivar unknown) has been a delightful exception to my failings.
These astilbes are near a sprinkler head in the low-lying end of the hosta garden. This is an area that receives a lot of water. The plants bloom heavily and are lush, even without much extra fertilizer. The lesson? Plant more sprinkler heads, or fewer astilbes?
I think the real lesson is the reminder that although I love big and bold plants, sometimes the best gifts do come in small packages.