I HAVE to confess to never having been a great fan of hanging baskets, maybe because I can’t seem to keep up with the watering and dead-heading.
However, I do love tubs and containers and use them widely around the garden.
Gardening on a fairly small plot with a limited amount of space, I find there is always another shrub or plant I desperately want to grow and no spare ground to grow it in, so I temporarily pot it up and there it stays, sometimes for years! Annuals can be mixed in among the perennials to bring instant colour, starting with a great show of tulips and crocuses in the spring followed by an endless supply of summer bedding.
Even trees can be fitted into a large container as long as they are fed regularly and watered in the summer. I have the Judas tree – cercis siliquastrum – underplanted with a large fern and pansies.
Lilies are brilliant in pots and you can have flowers from early summer right through to September by choosing different varieties. Move them around in the borders where you want them to flower – they are one of the most useful garden plants. Watch out for bright red lily beetles though, making their way up through Britain.They have quite disgusting habits and I have to confess to stamping on them. Horrible creatures!
Sorry, I know they are only doing what nature needs them to do.
Experiment with colours for your containers. The most effective ones I have seen recently have single-coloured red and orange planting.
In France you see tiny-leaved bright and cheerful red geraniums spilling from balconies and window boxes.
White could be interesting too, with lots of green foliage.
It can be fun choosing unusual containers. Jam pans, tin bathtubs and coal scuttles are all to be found in my garden and they remind me of various holidays, travelling home with the back seat of the car loaded with the poor kids squashed in alongside new junk shop finds.
I have a favourite yard where I buy items I am sure my clients will love, only to find sometimes they don’t share my enthusiasm so I get landed with them (the objects, not the clients!)! Don’t forget to drill holes in the bottom of the containers for drainage.
Caistor in Bloom have a terrific offer on to supply what looks like a large wooden barrel planted with various summer bedding plants.
These are a brilliant design as they have a crafty water storage system built in, so less messing about with the watering can.
They are actually made from recycled material and work out at about £75 each. Several of the local clubs and shops have bought them, including the Caistor and District Flower Club, which is celebrating their sapphire anniversary this year – hence the planting is blue and white.
The barrels have really added to the general fantastic look of the town at the moment. The team has worked so hard strimming, mowing and planting.
On the subject of barrels. I think they are ideal for lime-hating plants such as rhododendrons and camellias.
They seem to echo the spirit of these woodland-type plants. Put them in semi-shade and water with rain water whenever possible and they will do really well. Again, don’t forget to get them drilled for drainage. You could underplant with tiny narcissus, crocus and tulips in the spring and hostas for later.
Vegetables are great for containers too. Deep ones for straight carrots and a long wooden trough could house different leaved herbs outside the kitchen door.
Finally, do consider the style and materials of your planters. I still love terracotta, which looks great with an old brick house like mine, but sometimes modern settings call for aluminium or smart black contemporary planters. There really is something for every situation.
l Sue Neave designs and builds gardens. Her garden at Hope House, 15 Horsemarket, Caistor, in conjunction with ‘Ramada’ 17 Horsemarket, is open for the NGS scheme on Sunday, July 3.
For further information go online to www.hopehousegardens.co.uk .
l Caistor in Bloom is a community company run by hard working volunteers (www.caistorinbloom.co.uk).