Get creative and add some colour

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Polyanthus: dig them up when they finish blooming.

BRIAN KIDD: on how to save polyanthus and potted roses

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There are some really lovely things in flower in the garden at the moment but what about a bit of instant colour in a container near the house?

A large container is more attractive than one which is too small, it’s possible to put in more plants too.

Instead of buying one, it may be that you have something which will do the trick, in which case, use that.

A large sink, anold wheelbarrow, anything which will not look ugly will do but it will be essential to ensure there are plenty of holes in the base to allow excess water to escape.

The holes are covered over with pieces of broken clay flower pot, these are called crocks this will allow the water to escape but keep the compost from draining through the holes. The best compost to use is John Innes number 3 which is the strongest one available. Add 10 per cent sharpsand and mix well.

Fil the planter to within about 4in of the top, this will allow space for the plants and there will be enough depth to take the size of the root ball on each of the plants.

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 just to mention a few.

It’s likely you will choose a few plants which will lastfor a few weeks to fill the gap between now and the middle of May when the summer plants will replace those mentioned here.

What shall we choose?

The winter flowering pansies will be fine but if you look carefully, there will be varieties which will last through to the summer, these have very much larger flowers than the winter ones.

Polyanthus and primroses should provide a few weeks’ colour if you choose ones which have a flower on the top with lots of buds still to grow along 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 bloom for another two weeks.

Try to avoid ‘mixed’. Use your imagination, try contrasting colours.

When deciding, pick out the colours you love best and see if some are more fragrant than others.

Yellow looks brilliant with red, blue looks great against white or gold, black tulips are brilliant with yellow. Keep the container away from the wall to stop vine weevil.

When the spring flowering 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.

Replenish the compost during May before planting the summer flowers next time.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Forsythias: Everyone seems to have a forsythia shrub. All the wood which has finished flowering needs to be pruned off. Take a large branch and pull it towards you. Near the base there should be a strong shoot without any side shoots. This branch is pruned down to that strong shoot.

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