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
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 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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Step by step winter container with Carex, Calluna vulgaris ‘Alicia’ and Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Niger’ – © GAP Photos
Winter container with Carex, Calluna vulgaris ‘Alicia’ and Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Niger’.
This silver, green and white container is a lovely combination of Carex, Calluna vulgaris ‘Alicia’ and Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Niger’ and will brighten up any winter garden, terrace or balcony. This step by step shows you how.
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