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Container-friendly plants to transform your garden this summer

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by Colour Your Life • Friday July 26, 2013

Write about what you know is one of the best pieces of advice ever given to novice scribblers and I am putting it into practice right now! 

As I sit in my garden with a summer breeze playing through the leaves of the cherry tree, I am surrounded by flowering plants and beautiful foliage.  There are bees busy among the scabious and the catmint (just as the garden centre promised they would), the fuchsias and lilies are coming into flower and my big container of white marguerite daisies is simply stunning.  Beyond the container grown glories, in the borders the lavatera will shortly explode into colour and there are roses everywhere.   To balance the flowers there is the foliage of Photinia ‘Red Robin’ and hornbeam hedging, with its wonderful ribbed leaves.

This is all in a small suburban garden, almost identical to hundreds of thousands (millions?) across the UK today.  And if there can be magic here, right the way up to the larch lap boundary, there can be magic on your plot too.   Here are some pointers on how to inject immediate colour and fun into any garden this summer.

Make it a ‘potfest’

The key to achieving instant impact is using containers and pots and what I want to encourage you to do is focus on the ‘quick wins’ that will transform your garden immediately.  Buy plants in flower either already potted (if you are really short of time) or make your own combinations of plants and pots that will best suit the look and feel of your home and garden.  Remember to keep well watered and fed to maintain the display to its optimum.  Size pots according to the plants that you want to grow in them, but always try to use the biggest pots you can.  Bigger pots quite simply work better because roots have more room and they dry out more slowly.

Sure-fire winners for instant impact

Dwarf varieties of Weigela (a hardy shrub), for example the deciduous ‘Red Prince’ (an RHS AGM plant) are perfect for pots, attractive to butterflies and, with their exotic foliage as well as flowers, will bring beauty from the start.

Geranium or ‘cranesbill’ is a beautiful hardy flowering plant whose flowers may be blue, pink, purple or white, depending on variety.  ‘Brookside’ bears large, deep blue, saucer-shaped flowers whereas ‘Orion’, another star, bears violet-blue flowers.

Delphiniums are not typically associated with growing in containers but can work very well if planted in something of a suitable size.  ‘Delphs’ are one of the classic cottage garden perennials, available in a lovely range of colours from the pale cream of ‘Celebration’ through the magenta-pink of ‘Langdon’s Royal Flush’ to ‘Fenella’ and its glorious gentian blue flowers.  (Each of these are RHS AGM holders).

Salvia – another magnet for butterflies and bees – is so attractive and lends a sense of real quality whenever it is present.  Salvia nemorosa ‘caradonna’ had the distinction of being central to Andy Sturgeon’s ‘Best in Show’ Chelsea garden of 2010.  Andy chose it because of the Mediterranean associations that the blue spires evoke.

Our final suggestion is the beautiful, yet unattractively named scabious.  Two great garden varieties of scabious are ‘Velvet Brown’ or ‘Blue Jeans’.  With a long flowering period and (I know I’ve said it before) the power to draw in beneficial insects, scabious has the added benefit of providing great flowers for indoor arrangements.

So, with a whole world of summer flowers to choose from I hope that this selection will inspire you to go out and get buying.  Any of these will go as well in borders, but for that instant ‘wow’ factor for minimum effort and disruption, pots win the day.  They are also ideal if you move house regularly or are simply trying out different styles within the garden.  When your potted beauties are dormant in autumn/winter consider establishing them in the ground in readiness for next year.  In this way you can give your summer makeover a truly lasting impact.

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1 comment

  • margaret s. margaret s. Thank you, just moved to a small garden, and your ideas are just what I need.
    Sunday August 7, 2016 at 15:01

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