There’s a but in those plain old water butts

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Brian Andrews, Frances Leppard and Charles Mobsby with their trophies

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Water butts are not very attractive, but for many years I’ve been appealing to you to catch rain water because it is very useful everywhere in the garden,

You can even buy a jet washer which uses rain water from the butt to clean the car or remove the moss from pathways.

How can we make a water butt a feature in the garden?

Buy a cheap washing-up bowl and make four holes in the sides about an inch above the base of the bowl.

Place the bowl on top of the water butt lid and place a 16-inch diameter hanging basket into the bowl.

Use a liner of plastic inside the basket and place in three inches of potting compost.

Insert three trailing petunia plants into the sides of the centre of the basket, pushing the foliage through the holes so that the roots are not disturbed.

The next layer of plants are inserted using two inches of compost over the top of the first layer and five different plants are inserted in the same way.

Choose the silver-leafed Helichrysum or Scaevola or ivy-leafed geraniums.

All of these are trailers and, if kept watered and fed with a liquid fertiliser formulated for tomatoes, will tumble down to cover the edges of the water butt.

The top of the basket will explode into colour if red geraniums and Bidens are planted together.

The yellow blooms on the Bidens will contrast with the geraniums and as long as the dead flowers are removed regularly and the plants are fed, the water butt will continue to look great.

Dead heading is a very important job and many prize winning gardeners do this every day.

The reason for this is all due to Mother Nature and the constant urge to survive.

Every plant wants to ensure the survival of its species.

It flowers, the flowers are pollinated by bees and seeds are set.

Once the seeds are set, the plant relaxes, the growth slows down and fewer flowers are produced.

We gardeners want a continuation of blooms so we feed the plants regularly and remove all the dead flowers.

The plants respond by growing like mad so that they can produce more blooms in the hope we gardeners will go on holiday so that they can bloom, seed and die in accordance with Mother Nature.

Instead of feeding once every so often, try to use a very weak feed every time the display is watered.