The mantra right plant, right place has many merits, but one simple dodge that it took me a while to fully embrace was to grow plants in pots that I otherwise wasn’t able to in the open ground, either because of soil, climate or geography. At Sissinghurst I struggle to grow the yellow Erythronium ‘Pagoda’, but by placing it in a pot I can provide just the right conditions that will encourage not only a healthy plant but one with good flowering and persistence.
How to achieve the look
I like to have lots of things that can be brought into the house, and so as well as using the large static pots and troughs at Sissinghurst I am slowly increasing the number of small portable pots that I can put down here or there and even bring indoors to enjoy at close quarters. At Sissinghurst I am spoiled by the choice of containers available that have such intimate associations with the garden’s history. With this container I’m bringing some of my own history to the table. It’s an old metal tin is that I usually use for storing packets of seeds, but its faded colour is the perfect foil for the yellow flowers of Erythronium ‘Pagoda’. Despite the architectural permanence of the flowers, I love the dissolved feel the plant gives off around the edges; a misty, soft, diaphanous feel. The individual flowers are held on wiry stems about 30cm high and are shaped exactly like a pagoda’s roof; sloping down from an apex and upturned at the corners. The leaves are a verdant deep green and sparingly, but exquisitely marked in chocolate-brown, the same colour as the stems. The leaves too have that delightful quality of capturing pearls of water when it rains, adding to the overall beauty. In most of our pots we use a peatfree compost with added grit, with the addition of a slow-release fertiliser and vine weevil control. Large pots need watering once a week, but smaller pots, such as this, can often need watering three times a week, particularly in summer.