Had a (non gardening) co worker a few years ago who just moved into a different home. It was a primarily shady yard, and they could tell it had been fashioned into a garden, even though it was winter when they moved in, they could see there were lots of little plant markers in the yard with names on them. It was soon discovered that the previous owners were of my ilk, i.e., "plant maniacs"! When Jim wrote down some of the names and showed me, i immediately recognized most of the variety names ~ they were all Hostas!
Spring arrived, as She always does, and the Hosta, along with many other perennials, awakened from their Winter sleep. It was not long before Jim came in to work and asked me if i wanted some (or all!) of these Hostas, because they wanted a low maintenance yard. Now, much as my heart leapt when i heard "Do you want these plants?", i did the right thing and told Jim that if he wanted a "low maintenance" yard, NOTHING would be LOWER maintenance than those Hostas! Especially established, well taken care of Hostas! i told him not to mess with them. Alas, (she says, grinning evilly) they still did not want the plants, so i borrowed my husband's truck (WITH the husband) and made a couple of trips there to load up said truck! Jim and his wife did decide they liked several of the plants, and wanted to keep them, but still let me cut divisions from those, also. It was a situation ALL plant maniacs hope to run into at least once in their lifetime! AND it just so happened that we had cleared out a space that Spring under the flowering Crabapple, and it was a perfect spot for Hostas! i believe i came home with at least 25 plants that year.
But I digress ~ my description of my SuperPlants list *** 1) Comes back reliably every year 2) Does not need pruning or shaping 3) If they DO flower, it does not take a lot of time to deadhead them 4) Looks good throughout the season 5) Needs little or no cutting down before winter and 6) Is NOT invasive!
A small disclaimer ~ there are no plants that are NO maintenance! Once in a while your Hostas may be eaten by slugs, moles dig up your Poppies, the deer wipe you out, and the most well behaved plant may absolutely LOVE the spot you have it in, and takes over your yard! But ~ dem's da rules, folks!
1) So Hosta are the first on this list. Very cast iron plants! i even have shoved a division of Hosta through a piece of Styrofoam and floated it in my pond with the roots floating free, and they thrived, even after i left them frozen in the water thru the Winter!
2) Next are the Sedums ~ they can grow in sandy or poor soil, can take hot sun, some are tiny and creeping, some are upright and can be 3 ft tall,
and it's very difficult to PREVENT from thriving!
3) Hardy Spring bulbs are very carefree, although some people make more work for themselves by cutting back the leaves sooner than they need to (or braiding them ~ what's with that?) If you wait until the leaves dry out, they will easily come off when tugged.
4) Heucheras ~ i love these guys! Compact, a great variety of colors, looks good (a lot of them THROUGH a zone 5 winter). See my "Collectable Plant" post about Heucheras for more photos.
5) Poppies ~ Comes up in early Spring, blooms, fades away. No problem.
There ARE more! Will post soon.