GARDENING: Add vibrancy to your garden with colourful containersÂ
Containers of flowers add character to a garden and they needn't cost the earth because if the right plantsÂ are chosen, the sides of the container are hidden away within a month of planting.
It is important to ensureÂ there are holes in the base. Before filling with compost pieces of broken clay flower potÂ '“ called crocksÂ '“ should beÂ placed over the holes so that excess water can escape through the base.
Four little feet can then be used to keep the container off the paving. This is a good idea because it improvesÂ drainage, but it also stops worms getting into the compost. Worms are wonderful in the open ground but inÂ potsÂ they eat all the fibrous material and the compost ends up like silt.
The best compost for containers is John Innes Number 3 Potting Compost. It is the strongest because itÂ contains more fertiliser than the others and, because it has loam in the mixture, the trace elements in theÂ loam are less likely to be washed out of the compost.Â
ThisÂ problem is easily remedied by adding 10 per centÂ extra-sharp sand or potting sand and mixing this well beforeÂ filling the containers.
The choice of plants and colours is a personal thing but try to get away from mixed.Â
Think about colour schemes.Â Red and yellow are contrasting colours; they are both bright and will addÂ radiance. Pink, blue and grey together look elegant;Â these colours add serenity and quietness.
Oranges,Â 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 toÂ be planted now is in flower at garden centres and plant nurseries.
Geraniums, petunias, busy Lizzies, bidens, verbena andÂ begonias are in flower right now and will still be inÂ bloom for the entire summer, so a combination of these will be ideal for that container. Asters, 10-weekÂ stock and Livingstone daisies are not good choices because the flowering time is far too short. Plant themÂ in borders.
Plant the edge with petunia blue vein; threeÂ planted around the edge will cover even the largest tub within fourÂ weeks and the perfume is wonderful. Planted near a door, the fragrance can be enjoyed every time theÂ garden is entered.
If you are new to gardening, there is a little trick you can try before buying your plants. WhileÂ at theÂ garden centre, choose some plants in pots and set them out on the ground so that you can see just howÂ many you need. AÂ container threeÂ feet across only needs nine plants in threeÂ inch pots.
Watering is important - the first watering is best done with a rose on the watering can and the plants need aÂ good soak. After this, feel the surface of the compost and water when it feels dry.
Feeding commences fourÂ weeks after planting. I use Maxicrop all-purpose plant food, which isÂ organic and contains all the plant'sÂ requirements. It feeds the compost and the plants then absorb what they need.
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Dead daffodil leavesÂ must be allowed to die naturally. Don't pull them off. The sap will goÂ into the underground bulb and will initiate next year's spring flowers. IfÂ seed heads are removedÂ there will be blooms next spring.