How to bring the glories of spring to your small garden –  with Brian Kidd

Dark blue winter-flowering pansies look stunning in containers.
Dark blue winter-flowering pansies look stunning in containers.
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Let’s have another look at a few plants which will give us a pleasing colour surprise next spring, with the emphasis on small gardens.

First of all, why not plant some daffs about four inches above the bottom of the pot and then another layer on top of them so that when they bloom, the whole pot is filled with blooms.

It's amazing, the flowers and foliage will all find their way to the top and if they are all of the same variety, they will all flower at the same time.

If you would like a narcissus which is very wind-resistant, look out for the variety called Geranium which has a wonderful perfume.

On top of the pot plant a few winter-flowering pansies, choosing a dark blue which will give you a beautiful contrast of white, orange and blue.

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

The hyacinths will probably come into bloom in late February. There will be just a few pansies in flower at that time, but by April and May they will  completely cover the whole container.

What about orange and blue winter-flowering pansies on their own or, if you have lots of forget-me-nots in the garden, why not dig out a few and plant them thickly on top of the container. But before you do that plant some pink tulips underneath, about four inches apart. They’re not that

expensive and after all you got the forget-me-nots free!

I'm very often asked which of the spring-flowering plants is best for wet places, perhaps the excess moisture is down to a dripping gutter. Well, primula denticulata is the best one, it's available in white, pink or blue and a good plant to go with it is variegated ivy. The reason for this idea is because primulas don't usually have leaves all winter so the ivy prevents the container looking bare. However, the primulas will look brilliant when they flower in the spring.

Polyanthus are a good choice too. They don't like standing in water but they will put up with wet winter conditions and won't let you down.

Wallflowers are not successful if the soil becomes too wet in containers, but don't be afraid of planting 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 out 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 that one looks after the other in the container and they will all flower together when the warm spring weather arrives. In normal circumstances the wallflower remains evergreen and noticeable in winter whereas a lot of other plants almost disappear!


Before lighting bonfires please check there are no hedgehogs asleep in the base. Even if you live in a densely populated area, hedgehogs may have chosen your garden to hibernate for the winter.