Spring forward to warmer days with a pot of daffs, says Brian Kidd

he South East In Bloom judges visited the Fareham area where they concluded their tour with a visit to Ferneham Hall. From left: Fiona Phillips, Stuart Lees and The Mayor of Fareham Councillor Geoff Fazackarley     
Picture Ian Hargreaves  (170760-1)

South East in Bloom judges praise standard of gardens in Fareham area

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Let’s have another look at plants which will give us a pleasing colour surprise next spring, with the emphasis on small gardens.

Firstly, why not plant daffs about four inches above the bottom of a pot with another layer on top of them so when they bloom the whole pot is filled with flowers?

It’s amazing. The flowers and foliage all find their way to the top and if they’re all the same variety they will flower at the same time.

If you want a wind-resistant narcissus, look out for the variety called Geranium. It has a wonderful perfume. And on top of the pot why not plant a few winter-flowering pansies, choosing a dark blue. With the daffs, this will give you a beautiful contrast of white, orange and blue.

Winter-flowering pansies can be enhanced by planting hyacinths, the noses of the bulbs an inch below the compost’s surface. If the container is near a door you’ll enjoy the perfume early next spring.

The hyacinths will bloom probably in late February. There will be just a few pansies in flower then but there will be complete coverage of the whole container with pansy flowers in April and May.

What about orange and blue winter-flowering pansies on their own? Or, if you have lots of forget-me-nots in the garden, dig out a few and plant them thickly on top of the container. Before that plant pink tulips underneath, about four inches apart. They aren’t expensive and you did get the forget-me-nots free.

I’m often asked which spring-flowering plant is best for wet places. Well, primula denticulata is best. It comes in white, pink or blue and a good plant to go with it is variegated ivy.

The reason for this idea is because the primulas don’t usually have leaves all winter so the ivy prevents the container looking bare. The primulas look brilliant when they flower in spring.

Polyanthus are also a good choice, but they don’t like standing in water. However, they will put up with wet winter conditions and won’t let you down.

Wallflowers are not successful if the soil in containers gets too wet, but don’t be afraid of planting out wallflowers because you may feel they are too common. They are excellent as long as the containers are well drained.

The great advantage of choosing wallflowers is that they are still one of the cheapest and most reliable plants for containers.

If possible look for Orange Bedder, Blood Red or Golden Bedder and then use the colours to either blend or contrast. If planted not less than five inches apart you will find one looks after the other in the container and they will all flower together when the warm spring weather arrives.

In normal circumstances wallflowers remain evergreen and noticeable in winter whereas a lot of other plants almost disappear.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Before putting away plastic garden furniture give it a good wash using Flash. It brings it up like new. Allow it to dry before covering with especially-manufactured garden furniture covering.