Category Archives: Planting combinations

Planting a Hot Coloured Copper Pot

Copper pot with hot coloured plants: Calibrachoa 'Million Bells Crackling Fire', French marigolds, Sanvitalia procumbens, Gazania 'Gazoo Orange', Gazania 'Gazoo Clear Yellow' and Carex comans 'Milk Chocolate' - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Copper pot with hot coloured plants: Calibrachoa ‘Million Bells Crackling Fire’, French marigolds, Sanvitalia procumbens, Gazania ‘Gazoo Orange’, Gazania ‘Gazoo Clear Yellow’ and Carex comans ‘Milk Chocolate’ – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Match beautiful plants to an out-of-the-ordinary container, and the overall effect is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Tins, bowls, baskets, crates, kettles, scuttles, pails, pots and pans are some of the many alternative containers that, with minor modifications, make remarkable plant partners. This unpolished, old brass coal scuttle turns a matt, reddish brown colour that suits hot coloured plants — Calibrachoa ‘Million Bells Crackling Fire’, French marigolds, trailing Sanvitalia procumbens, Gazanias ‘Gazoo Orange’ and ‘Gazoo Clear Yellow’. In the centre is the ornamental grass, Carex comans ‘Milk Chocolate’, which provides a perfect foil to the bright colours.

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March planted box

With the popularity of recycling and car boot sales, containers for plants are becoming ever more imaginative.

Set against backdrop of red berries of evergreen heavenly bamboo - Nandina domestica, wooden box planted with Narcissus 'Tete-a-Tete' and blue grape hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum. Behind, Skimmia japonica and white heather. In front, ivy, primulas, Cyclamen persicum, ornamental cabbage and pots of emerging crocus bulbs - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Set against backdrop of red berries of evergreen heavenly bamboo – Nandina domestica, wooden box planted with Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ and blue grape hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum. Behind, Skimmia japonica and white heather. In front, ivy, primulas, Cyclamen persicum, ornamental cabbage and pots of emerging crocus bulbs – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

It’s not surprising— gardeners are a resourceful bunch, well used to adapting whatever nature or the climate throws their way — so transforming random throwaway items into attractive containers rather goes with the territory. Wooden boxes or discarded wine crates make especially handsome containers, either left as plain wood or painted with a colour wash. Either way, the timber should first be treated with an environmentally-friendly preservative before fitting a plastic liner in order to prevent rot. To create maximum impact for minimum effort and expense, fill a box with two of late winter’s most long- lasting flowering bulbs — Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ and blue grape hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum. Deadheaded regularly, this display lasts for at least six weeks, provided the soil is free-draining and kept moist.

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March Hanging Basket

March hanging basket planted with Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Beauty', Crocus 'Ruby Giant', Iris reticulata 'J S Dijt', Anemone blanda, Erica x darleyensis 'Bert' and violas - © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

March hanging basket planted with Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Beauty’, Crocus ‘Ruby Giant’, Iris reticulata ‘J S Dijt’, Anemone blanda, Erica x darleyensis ‘Bert’ and violas – © Nicola Stocken/GAP Photos

Hanging baskets, with their layers of colour and cascading tiers of foliage, are container gardening at its simplest, provided you follow a few simple rules.

As the garden nears the cusp between winter and spring, there’s a feeling of life stirring and rebirth as leaves unfurl, buds swell and yet more flowering bulbs join the steady succession that perk up the most dismal of days. These are flowers that bring a smile — windflowers quivering in the slightest breeze, reticulata irises that change from tightly-closed bud to fully-open flower with almost unseemly haste, and richly coloured crocuses that draw bees in search of pollen. And there’s the sturdy Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Beauty’, or glory-of-the-snow that hopefully will not live up to its name.

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