Containers needn’t be all hard work

Containers can brighten up many a grey patio, adding colour and co-ordinating with your patio furniture.  They can also look amazing when adding colour to rows of steps or on decking.  You can have fun choosing your plants and developing themes or colour schemes, selecting both trailing and taller plants.

You do need to consider the constant watering that they need, though there are irrigation systems that can help with this. By using larger pots, whether wide or tall, water can be conserved and maintenance time saved.  You also get the chance to develop some really interesting plant combinations – experiment and have fun with colour, shape and size.  For suggestions see Helen Yemm’s article in The Telegraph on container gardening tips, where she also takes a guess at the weather in 2013.  It is, of course, anyone’s guess, but she confidently states that no two years are the same and that we should look forward to a “waterbutt half full” year as opposed to a “waterbutt seriously overflowing” one.  It pays to be realistic.

Helen is going to stop growing annuals in her pots, finding them “fussy” and time-consuming, with the repetitive process each year.  Instead she is plumping for perennials to save on both time and labour.  The small annual effort of adding some fresh compost means that gardening time can be devoted to other projects and the flowers will bloom as before.

As they develop, perennials can be split and planted out, enhancing your garden in places that need a little in-fill.

Don’t forget to protect ‘tasty’ plants like hostas with slug and snail repellent, such as a band of copper tape around pots and sheep-wool over the compost surface. 

Helen reports that some of her best container planting has been ad hoc to say the least.  A large plastic container unceremoniously placed into an empty urn gave new life to a hellebore that had been suffering in a shady woodland patch.

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