Brian Kidd says if you've only got a small garden you should go potty!

Chris has just moved from Chester and has a very pleasant small garden in Southsea.

She loves reading The News and wants to enter our annual Bloomin’ Marvellous garden competition. But she can only grow plants in containers and she wanted some advice.

Containers add character to a garden. They needn’t cost the earth because if the right plants are chosen the container’s sides will be hidden within a month of planting.

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It is important to ensure there are holes in the base. Before filling with compost. pieces of broken clay flowerpots– crocks – are placed over the holes so excess water can escape.

Four little feet can then be used to keep the container off the paving. This will improve drainage and stop worms getting into the compost. Worms are wonderful in open ground, but in pots they eat all the fibrous material and the compost ends up like silt.

The best compost for containers is John Innes No3 potting compost. It is the strongest because it contains more fertiliser than others and because it contains loam. Trace elements in the loam are less likely to be washed out. Other brands are available but many gardeners say they are disappointing because the compost becomes ‘cloggy’. This is easily remedied by adding 10 per cent extra sharp sand or potting sand and mixing it well before filling the containers.

The choice of plants and colours is a personal thing but try to get away from ‘mixed’.

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Think about colour schemes. Red and yellow are contrasting colours, they are bright and will add radiance. Pink, blue and grey together look elegant, adding serenity and quietness. Oranges, yellows and white all look great in dull areas because they add a touch of sunshine.

The great thing is that we can find suitable plants for any of these colour schemes as nearly everything to be planted now is in flower at garden centres and nurseries.

Geraniums, petunias, busy Lizzies, Bidens, verbena and begonias are in flower now and will bloom for the entire summer, so a combination of these will be ideal for that container.

Asters, 10-week stock and Livingstone daisies are not good choices because their flowering time is too short. Plant these in borders.

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Plant the edge of the container with petunia Blue Vein. Three planted around the edge will cover the largest tub in four weeks and the perfume is wonderful. Planted near a door, the fragrance can be enjoyed every time you go into the garden.

New to gardening? Here’s a trick to try before buying. Choose plants in pots and set them out on the ground so you can see just how many you need. A container 3ft across only needs nine plants in 3in pots. When planting, knock the plants out of the pots!

Watering is important. The first is best done with a rose on the watering can and the plants need a good soak. After this, feel the compost’s surface and water when it feels dry.

Feeding begins four weeks after planting. As you know I use Maxicrop All Purpose plant food. This is organic and contains all the plants’ requirements. It feeds the compost and the plants absorb what they need. The fertiliser can be changed if the flowers seem to be scarce, so Maxicrop For Tomatoes is an excellent choice.


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You will have noticed hedges of all types are growing like mad.

Check there are no birds nesting and try to cut the hedge before the new growth becomes woody.

Regular hedge cutting takes far less time and is far less tiring too.

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