Joe Swift says make a statement
with your pots - be bold!
Call them what you want-pots, planters
or containers, it all amounts to the same thing.
They have been around for centuries and are an excellent
way to grow plants and maximise the space in a small
garden. They can be used to decorate and harmonise the
look and when repeated add a certain rhythm to the overall
These days people are looking for more
contemporary styles of planter rather than the ornate
pots with plenty of swirls and swags. Traditional materials
such as terracotta, glazed ceramics, wood are still
widely used, but pot designers are reinventing the shapes
with a much cleaner and more modern look to fit in well
with their sleeker gardens. The days of trailing petunias
and variegated ivy dangling over the edge of a pot are
over. Single architectural specimens planted one to
a pot are what's in.
When choosing pots for your garden try
to stick to one style and finish. A mish-mash of different
shapes, sizes and finishes will make
the garden look messy and lose that designed look. Try
not to buy pots on a whim without thinking where they're
going to go, and what you're going to put in them -
if you're going to put anything in them. Believe it
or not there are actually some pots that look better
without any plants!
It's the combination of plant and pot
which makes the composition succeed or not. This date
palm (Phoenix canariensis) is the perfect vase
shape for containers and looks great in this dramatic
black glazed pot. The sculptural qualities of the plant
work well with the pot's smooth simple shape and proportion.
Small gardens doesn't mean small pots. In fact large
pots and plants, such as this date, in a small garden
will create much more drama and impact than having everything
below eye level.
A great plant which I think we'll being
seeing plenty more of is the Astelia chathamica
'silver spear'. It's wonderful sword shaped
leaves are reminiscent of a phormium, but they have
a cool metallic silver finish like an old Saab I used
to drive. They can tolerate much more shade than a phormium,
but not as much cold as they are only hardy to -5 C. That's
another good reason for growing in pots - they can be
brought into a greenhouse or conservatory during the
winter in a cold area, and put out again on the patio
in the spring. The look of the garden can be kept fresh
and interesting by moving pots around.
Another plant that'll need to come indoors
for the winter is the succulent Echeveria secunda.
It looks great in smaller pots on a table top or lining
a flight of steps. I've planted three in this interesting
terracotta pot, and their rosettes of grey-green waxy
leaves and unusual yellow and pink flowers are set off
well by the colour of the terracotta. As they produce
more offsets they will hug the side and spill over and
break up the edge of the pot.
looking for something a bit hardier, which is as tough
as old boots, but will help formalise your space you
simple can't go wrong with box. Talk about traditional!
However a simple clipped box ball in this
terracotta cube still looks pretty funky and doesn't
look at all dated. If it works well - do it, that's
what I say.
For more moisture loving plants such as
juncus or hostas go for ceramic pots as they will hold
the moisture in the soil better than terracotta or wood.
This Juncus effusus 'Spiralis' or curly wurly has a
wonderful form and looks just right contrasting with
this square white pot.
When it comes to choosing a compost for
the pots remember that plants in pots dry out extremely
quickly - much more quickly than when in the ground.
For plants such as box or hostas mix 50/50 multi purpose
compost with John Innes no.2 and add some water retaining
gel to stop them drying out. Plants which like things
a bit drier such as the more Mediteranean plants and
succulents do best in a John Innes no.3. The succulents
should have plenty of grit mixed in to open up the soil
Whatever sort of pots or plants you choose
just remember to keep it simple and bold, no trailing
petunias, and definitely no swags!
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com