I don't have much time for gardening but like to have nice plants.
Shrubs are the best answer for time saving gardening.
Design and plant an area once and it can last up to 20 years with little more than occasional pruning. When planting your shrubs, use plenty of good planting compost and some bone meal. Save yourself more time by mulching in between the plants with chipped bark which will suppress weed growth and also help retain moisture for the plants.
Choose a selection of plants in different sizes, shapes, leaf and flower colour and select plants that have their main display at different times of the year to ensure year-round interest.
The following are all plants that are attractive over a long period, are easy to grow almost anywhere and are not particularly prone to pests or disease. No pruning (or very little) required!
Chiosya - an evergreen that develops into a nice rounded bush and has "orange blossom" scented white flowers.
Escallonia - another evergreen large shrub great for the back of a border, flowers in a range of pink or white. Hebe available in lots of varied leaf colours with the bonus of summer flowers.
Camellia - this well loved shrub is evergreen with beautiful flowers in pink, red or white.
Ceanothus repens - a lower growing variety of the well known Californian Lilac that you will see in many gardens, covered with a mass or blue flowers from April until July.
For scent Lavender is ideal and it needs a good sunny spot. It should be trimmed lightly after flowering (you could make your own pot pourri!).
Perfect for Winter scented flowers and colour, Mahonia or Viburnum "Dawn". Both are easily grown.
For good Autumn leaf colour Amelanchier or a beautiful dwarf Acer (Japanese Maple) if you have a sheltered spot.
Finally and very important for Winter berries plant Skimmia, a lovely evergreen making a nice rounded shrub, in varieties that produce masses of bright red berries. Pyracantha, with its' bright yellow, red or orange berries is perfect for planting against a wall or fence and best of all, it will attract and feed all sorts of wild birds, a real bonus!