Thursday, February 19, 2009

Use Planters

By the time December arrives, many people seem to believe that the gardening year is at an end? Not so! Although many gardens distinctly lack colour because most of the deciduous plant stock has shed leaf by this stage and the herbaceous perennials have gone to ground for the dormant season. But gardens need not look so gloomy and here are some simple tips to help put the colour back into the garden. Before you begin, some basic planning is required.

Plants - choose wisely, remember to select plants that look good or their best during the winter months. Choose plants with interesting foliage or better still select varieties which flower at this time of year, there are many to choose from including Skimmia, Coprosma, Hellebores, Mahonia, Cyclamens etc.

Size Matters - yes, select planters that provide adequate space for rootball to develop, avoid planting tall and large plants in shallow planters, or planting compact ground cover plants in large planters.

Form & Colour - applies not just to the plants, size and shape also applies to planters. There is such an array of planters from which to choose. Try clustering planters in groups, in Cottage gardens, a range of sizes can look particularly attractive, whereas in a more architectural formal garden, using one size can reinforce the desired effect.

Planting for impact

Here are some suggestions for interesting combinations:
• Cordyline (tenax) underplanted with the vibrant almost neon like yellow striped Acorus ogon
• For a more architectural look, try planting a specimen plant such as a Half Standard (ie Lollipop form) several varieties to choose from including Bay Laurel, Holly, Camelia etc and underplant with Buxus Sempervirens (common Box) or Euonymous Gaiety. Underplanting should be clipped to reflect the formal look.
• For a more seasonal look, try Skimmia japonica Rubella, with its rich green tapered leaves and masses of flowers/berries. Underplant with the green and yellow striped Carex Evergold.
• For smaller containers but masses of vibrant colour, try the vibrant red tinged foliage of Hebe Heartbreaker as feature plant and mix with the striking black grass like leaf of Ophiopogon Nigrescens.
• For sheltered areas, Nandina Domestica with its varied foliage colours of green, yellow and red with its masses of red berries can look stunning when combined with the striking bright yellow foliage of Acorus ogon.
• The silver spiked leaves of Astelia Silver Spears provide some seasonal glitter when underplanted with the light green variagated foliage of the dwarf Skimmia Merlot complete with its red berries.
• A striking opulent colour effect can be achieved with a specimen of Phormium Yellow wave mixed with the rich vivid purple colour of Heuchera Palace Purple.
• One of my favourite combinations is to use a specimen half standard olive tree, underplant with Acorus ogon and cyclamens. And for a mesmerizing effect during hours of darkness to place an uplighter in the planter and white light streaking through the silver blue green hues of the olive tree produces an unforgettable Christmas effect.

Many other combinations are possible even with the inclusion of seasonal bulbs and seasonal flowers including cyclamens, hyacinths, winter pansies etc. With some simple planning, striking colour combinations can be achieved and all designed to give a much needed lift to the otherwise drab appearance of winter gardens. Select containers with interesting profiles and colour which will extend the contrast with preferred planting colour schemes.

Finally do not forget to water and apply some feed to the planters to avoid any drying out. It may not be sunny but it is surprising how gentle winds can dry out planters.

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1 comment:

BarbaraRae said...

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