Perk up your pa­tio pots for the au­tumn sea­son

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

AS SUM­MER draws to a close and plants in pots start look­ing tired, it’s time to give your con­tain­ers a fresh new look.

As well as mak­ing new plant­ings, con­sider bright­en­ing up ex­ist­ing con­tain­ers. Give wooden troughs and win­dow­boxes a good sand be­fore re­paint­ing them in what­ever colour takes your fancy – just make sure it com­ple­ments the area rather than stand­ing out like a sore thumb.

Retro lovers may like to re­cy­cle items such as food cans and tins, colan­ders, old metal buck­ets or bread tins, old wooden crates or even brightly coloured plas­tic trugs (with drainage holes in the bot­tom) to use as con­tain­ers.

If you want to re­place only cer­tain plants that have gone over, dig them out care­fully with a hand fork and then re­place the old com­post with fresh, prefer­ably the type that con­tains slow-re­lease fer­tiliser and wa­ter-re­tain­ing gel. Fill in the gaps with tem­po­rary colour­ful plants, such as au­tumn cy­cla­men, pan­sies and vi­o­las, com­bined with dwarf mar­guerites and ber­ried win­ter cher­ries.

Al­ter­na­tively, once your sum­mer an­nu­als in pots are truly spent, plant up a cool mix­ture of au­tumn stun­ners, com­bin­ing flow­ers and fruits with ivies and other hardy fo­liage plants. In­clude colour­ful or­na­men­tal kales and cab­bages, heucheras and cape heath and, when the weather re­ally cools down, shel­ter dis­plays as much as pos­si­ble to keep them frost-free.

Chrysan­the­mums, which went out of fash­ion for years as they have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing time-con­sum­ing and need­ing ‘tlc’ in the green­house, have im­proved. There are many va­ri­eties which come into their own in the au­tumn, pro­duc­ing masses of flow­ers from Au­gust un­til Novem­ber, in­clud­ing ‘ Mei- kyo’, a pink va­ri­ety. Hope­fully the hardy pan­sies and vi­o­las should last right through au­tumn un­til the be­gin­ning

Cof win­ter. All this should be com­ple­mented with eye-catch­ing ever­green fo­liage plants as well as spring-flow­er­ing hardy prim­roses, polyan­thus and win­ter-flow­er­ing heathers.

If you’re plant­ing up con­tain­ers in au­tumn, don’t for­get to add some bulbs that will give you colour from late win­ter through to spring. The bul­bous Retic­u­lata irises flower in late win­ter and early spring and, be­ing mainly blue, com­bine ef­fec­tively with white and yel­low Cro­cus chrysan­thus cul­ti­vars.

Dwarf nar­cissi such as ‘Fe­bru­ary Gold’ and ‘Tête à Tête’, also brighten up spring planters, as do snow­drops and grape hy­acinth, while tulips will carry the flow­er­ing sea­son into late spring. Pint-sized blue Scilla siber­ica can be used to fill in around the base of de­cid­u­ous pot-grown shrubs but also make good plant part­ners for dwarf, early flow­er­ing daf­fodils and Wanda hy­brid prim­roses.

Cool plant­ing schemes might fea­ture pur­ple, pink and sil­ver, com­bin­ing or­na­men­tal cab­bages with white cy­cla­men, pur­ple-leaved heucheras such as H ‘Ca­jun Fire’ or ‘Shang­hai’ and sil­ver fo­liage plants such as Cineraria ‘Sil­ver Dust’.

Or­na­men­tal grasses such as carex and fes­tuca can also be added to drape over the edge of con­tain­ers to add both colour, tex­ture and move­ment.

Another great plant to in­clude in au­tumn and win­ter pots is the Skim­mia japon­ica subsp. Reevesiana, which pro­duces long-last­ing clus­ters of bright pil­lar box red berries in win­ter, nes­tled among dark leaves. This hard-work­ing ever­green shrub pro­duces de­li­ciously fra­grant white flow­ers in spring.

The end of sum­mer doesn’t have to sig­nal the end of colour on the pa­tio.

With a lit­tle imag­i­na­tion, you can be en­joy­ing your con­tain­ers well into au­tumn and beyond.

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