Splash colour all around

Cel­e­brate sum­mer with a vi­brant and scented pal­ette for your con­tain­ers

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Outdoors - Pat­tie Bar­ron

THERE’S no need to have the artistry of Monet for your con­tain­ers to siz­zle with colour and piz­zazz this sum­mer. In­stead of fret­ting about cre­at­ing a com­po­si­tion from sev­eral dif­fer­ent plants, sim­ply fol­low the one pot, one plant rule. Keep to a tight, co­he­sive colour scheme through­out, bank up the flow­ers with plenty of fo­liage and you’ll have as much fun cre­at­ing your con­tainer dis­plays as you will have en­joy­ing them.

Gera­ni­ums con­vey the breezy at­mos­phere of the Med, but there are other more imag­i­na­tive ways to go than the com­mon- or- gar­den scar­let pelargo­nium. The pelta­tum va­ri­eties have rather dain­tier flower sprays that are equally gen­er­ous in their bloom­ing, and have a trail­ing habit that looks drop-dead el­e­gant in win­dow boxes and deep con­tain­ers.

Their at­trac­tive, ivy-shaped leaves pro­vide a full sup­port­ing cast and the long, curv­ing stems are quite brit­tle so can be eas­ily snapped off when the flower heads fade. Best of all, you can find them in the most sumptuous shades of deep glow­ing pinks, vel­vety crim­sons and deep­est claret.

The scented-leaved pelargo­ni­ums are of­ten rel­e­gated to win­dowsills and con­ser­va­to­ries but in sum­mer, their clouds of furry, grey- green scented fo­liage and small but abun­dant flow­ers in the soft­est pinks and white look en­chant­ing solo in a hand­some ter­ra­cotta pot.

You might plant up pots that look fresh as a daisy, right through sum­mer. My last year’s tri­umph was Ar­gy­ran­the­mum Cherry Red, a de­li­cious daisy with a perky colour that ranges on the same plant from a vi­brant cerise to a soft pink, de­pend­ing on the stage of each flower. Keep cut­ting the faded stems of Cherry Red and it will keep on pump­ing out flow­ers for months.

Os­teosper­mum Seren­ity Bronze is my other hot favourite. The shim­mery bronze petals around a burnt crim­son eye are as un­usual as they are cap­ti­vat­ing, and ter­ra­cotta pots show them off to per­fec­tion. Both these daisies need no ac­com­pa­ni­ment to flat­ter them fur­ther, but they look fab­u­lous con­trasted with sim­i­lar-sized pots of trail­ing ver­bena Home­stead Pur­ple.

Lan­tana ca­mara is an­other great solo per­former. It has brit­tle, twiggy stems, fuzzy fo­liage that can ir­ri­tate the skin and the plant is not al­ways the most el­e­gant in its growth, but the flower sprays of rasp­berry pink and tan­ger­ine — or in paler ver­sions, creamy lemon and sor­bet pink — make up for these small fail­ings. If you want to see bees and but­ter­flies on your pa­tio or in your win­dow boxes, Lan­tana’s flow­ers will de­liver.

Who’d want sticky-to-han­dle, floppy petu­nias when there are cal­i­bra­choas to be had, in gor­geous bright or­anges, sweet sugar pinks or the dark and juicy Black Cherry? Aptly dubbed Mil­lion Bells, cal­i­bra­choas are like tiny petu­nias, and in a sunny spot the flow­ers will smother the whole plant. You can dead­head with nail scis­sors and a deal of pa­tience if you want to keep the plant com­pact, but the faded flow­ers read­ily drop, so there is no need to re­move them in or­der for more to ap­pear. In a hang­ing bas­ket, they look the busi­ness.

As in the bor­der, shades of green pro­vide the con­nect­ing link be­tween dif­fer­ent flower colours as well as pro­vid­ing vis­ual pauses when you have lots of pots grouped to­gether. Gold­splashed eu­ony­mus makes a brighter choice than ubiq­ui­tous and dis­ease­prone box.

CHECK out the herb sec­tion of the gar­den cen­tre or nurs­ery for di­verse thymes and oreganos that have in­ter­est­ing leaves, dainty, pretty flow­ers, add fra­grance and are clip­pable for the kitchen. Pur­ple sage, nar­row- leaved grey-green sage — Salvia la­van­duli­fo­lia — is a great choice, and so is ap­ple- green ap­plemint. Rose­mary, up­right or trail­ing, is an es­sen­tial that adds tex­ture and fra­grance to any con­tainer col­lec­tion.

What we want from sum­mer con­tain­ers is abundance, and you don’t need ex­otics or rare spec­i­mens to fit the bill. Cast a fresh eye over a bushy fuch­sia and, a few weeks on from plant­ing it up, you could fall in love with the never-end­ing cas­cade of ex­quis­ite bi­coloured bell flow­ers.

Get over the snob­bery about justly called non-stop be­go­nias and won­der how you man­aged with­out the ex­u­ber­ant petal power from one corm, buried in com­post right now.

Gar­den­ing prob­lems?

Good mixer: left, Ver­bena Home­stead Pur­ple works beau­ti­fully with Ver­bena Bur­gundy in a large pale ter­ra­cotta pot

Petal pusher: Be­go­nia’s ex­otic flow­ers will keep on com­ing right through sum­mer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.