Garden inspiration

Plants in terracotta pots

Container Gardening

Plants to grow in a container

The one activity most gardeners share, whether they own a large estate or just a tiny courtyard, is growing plants in containers. Almost all gardeners do it – with good reason. Cultivating plants in hanging baskets, window boxes, troughs, pots, tubs, even old wheelbarrows is immensely, instantly rewarding and offers great scope for the imagination.

By growing plants in pots, you can provide temporary colour, with plants being easily substituted when past their best, as well as permanent interest throughout the year with perennials, trees and shrubs.

Design a Garden with containers

It is possible to use anything that holds soil to grow plants, so long as it has a drainage hole. But usually, it’s best to choose containers whose style, material and colour are in overall harmony with the look of your home and garden. A classic Greek urn placed lovingly outside a Cotswold cottage looks comical but used as a focal point in a traditional town house garden it creates an entirely different effect.

Selecting the right container is just as important as the plants that you decide on and there are an endless variety of materials, colours and sizes available. As it’s part of the garden’s permanent scene, choose something that will never bore you, and, if your container is going to be outside all year, make sure that it is frost proof and not just frost resistant. When choosing plants, strike a balance between the container and plant size, a tiny plant looks ridiculous in a vast tub. Aim for abundance and compose a harmonious shape with taller plants at the back or centre and a gradual decent to a frill of foliage or bloom at the rim. I tend to use containers to grow plants that don’t like the local soil and prefer acidic conditions. An excellent plant for a container,  flowering at this time of year, is the evergreen Camellia japonica. Make sure that you use a special ericaceous compost when planting, place it in a sheltered, partly shady spot and it will reward you with an abundant spring display. Ever popular for Mother’s Day, Azaleas and Rhododendrons will be coming into flower soon, again they require ericaceous compost to thrive. My favourite is ‘Blue Danube’ with its masses of small, funnel shaped, blue/violet flowers, try combing it with the pink ‘Cosmopolitan’ for a stunning combination of colour.

Container gardening is easy and fun. It allows you to be adventuress and experiment in a way that’s not possible with the more static elements of a garden.  No garden is really complete without at least one.

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