What about a bit of instant colour in a container near the house?
Instead of buying a container, you may already have something which will do the trick – a large sink, an old wheelbarrow, anything which will not look ugly.
It’s essential to ensure there are plenty of holes in the base to allow excess water to escape. Cover the holes with pieces of broken clay flowerpot. These are called crocks and they allow water to escape, but stop compost from draining through the holes.
The best compost to use is John Innes No3, the strongest available.
Fill the planter to within about four inches of the top. This allows space for the plants to be planted and there will be enough depth to take the size of the root ball on each plant.
A visit to the garden centre will be a treat as they are all geared up to encourage you to buy things which are in bloom. There are coloured primroses, polyanthus, winter-flowering pansies, primula denticulata and lots of bulbs and corms such as narcissus, hyacinths, baby iris and anemone blanda, to mention a few.
What shall we choose?
Winter-flowering pansies will be fine but if you look carefully, there will be varieties which last until summer. These have much larger flowers than the winter ones.
Polyanthus and primroses should provide a few weeks of colour if you choose those which have a flower on the top with lots of buds still to come. They can be seen tucked away underneath the foliage.
Both of these will look good at once with potted tulips, but remember if the tulips are in full bloom, they will only be in flower for another two weeks.
Try to avoid ‘mixed’. Use your imagination and try contrasting colours.
When deciding, pick out the colours you love best and see if some are more fragrant than others. This will help make up your mind.
Yellow looks brilliant with red; blue looks great against white or gold, and black tulips are brilliant with yellow.
It isn’t as difficult as people imagine to get the right number of plants, but it usually means buying two more than you wanted. Here’s what to do.
Before going to the garden centre or shop, measure the container. At the shop, take the plants you like off the display and put them together on the floor so the leaves are just touching.
This is how they will be planted for instant effect. It’s pointless spacing them too far apart; we’re only talking about a container, we only need a few plants and you deserve a treat!
When this instant colour has gone over, don’t change the compost, it will be fine for the next crop of flowers which bloom in the summer, after which always replenish the compost during mid-May before planting summer flowers.
TIP OF THE WEEK
If you are short of space in the greenhouse, have a look at the garden centre and you should be able to find shelf brackets which will slot into the upright glazing bars in the greenhouse. You will find it cheaper to buy wood to fit on top of the brackets as metal shelves are expensive.