Wednesday, 8 June 2011

More plant combinations for pots and some forward planning

Tender perennials, annuals and summer bulbs fill a large group of pots
in the pottery's courtyard garden,
with yet more lushness in the background.
The garden is full to bursting and yet we are stuffing more and more plants in pots and inflicting them on an unsuspecting public. We are getting more and more visitors now, inluding a local art group who unfortunately got rained on.

Colourful greeting
As you enter the courtyard garden the red/green/yellow/white plantings on the left are beginning to fill out after just a few days. The only Ensete ventricosum to survive the winter has been used, along with some Hedychium coccineum, Pelargonium, Dahlia, Eucomis, Lysimachia, Begonia 'Non-stop White' and annuals such as  Petunia 'Easy Wave' (picking the red ones out of the gaudy mix), Agrostis nebulosa, Kochia trichophylla and Nemesia 'St George'.

The dazzling Miss Babs

April showers have been falling in June and so the garden is looking wonderfully lush still. It is chilly though and I can't help resenting the rain even though I know how much it is needed.

Dressing to impress
I have been getting a bit of extra help from Miss Babs recently, which is really valuable as she empties big pots for me and pots up the re-usable plants while I can get on with the planting. Babs came well prepared for the weather on Tuesday but I could feel an incipient migraine every time I looked at her.

I asked Babs to empty the basket pots by the store-room door and then I took the big ferns which had spent the winter out in full sun by the entrance arch and moved them to this nice, shady position for their summer holidays. This position does get sun in the late afternoon and evening but it doesn't have the scorching midday/early afternoon sun which would soon make them look a bit crispy.

Fuzzy logic
I decided on orange and purple for this group, starting with Salvia confertiflora, which has spikes of fuzzy orange flowers held on purple fuzzy stems in late summer and looks fantastic with late afternoon sun coming through it. I added the dark purple foliage of Oxalis triangularis, this really needs deep shade and dislikes being transplanted but I hope it will forgive me because those shamrock-like purple leaves are something special. I then squeezed in some dark purple Verbena, a few Amaranthus 'Illumination' (I'm not sure how this will turn out as I haven't grown it before but I can always cut it down if it is awful) and some Anagallis 'Sunlover Orange', which last has soft orange flowers with violet centres and cascades nicely down a tall pot.

It looks a bit scrawny at the moment, but it only takes a few days for the dishevelled annuals to turn their leaves towards the light, then after a week or so their roots will be starting to explore the fresh compost and growth and flowering will really begin to get going.

Look this way
The planting featured below is in one of the pots in the first photograph in this post. After a few days the plants have turned their faces to the light - it is important to look at them when you are planting and recognise that each has a front and a back as they will look established much more quickly if they have the right side facing the sun. They are also already beginning to fill in the spaces between them and produce more flowers.

Dahlia 'Geerling's Moonlight', Salvia elegans, Pelargonium 'Moore's Victory and Lysimachia congestiflora 'Lyssi'

Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' on the left, accompanied by Heliotropium 'Marine',
Aeonium 'Zwartkop', Nemesia 'St George', Pelargonium australis,
purple petunias and a red Pelargonium whose name I have lost...
Feeling better now
The plantings I did in pouring rain in front of the Octagon just over a week ago (left) are beginning to look a lot happier. The petunias and heliotrope have resumed flowering and the Nemesia is colouring up nicely.

Many of the autumn plantings are still looking great, which makes the changeover much less stressful. I am moving around the pottery according to which pots look the most tired, whereas usually I have to tear things out and plant as fast as I can so that visitors aren't disappointed.

Planting plans
I know the garden looks fairly random but I do in fact plan the pot displays quite carefully in a notebook (editing it in my head all the time according to how the plants are developing) and when I have to change from one area to another these plans help to stop me from using up plants I need for a certain area somewhere else. Do you see what I mean? This is hard to explain!

Whatever the size of your garden, it is worth jotting notes when you ponder future developments - it will help to save you money at the garden centre for one thing...

Pelargonium 'Duke of Edinburgh' and Lobelia 'Riviera Sky Blue' already
working hard while other plants find their feet.
Picture taken immediately after planting.
Watch this space
Yesterday I planted the two big Italianate pots by our famous flowerpot arch. They look pretty messy and a bit flat at the moment but I am hoping that some of the annuals included in this combination will grow to more impressive proportions - gambling on good weather again.

The variegated ivy-leafed Pelargonium  'Duke of Edinburgh' which is already looking quite handsome is, like its namesake, vigorous and assertive, but hopefully doesn't make so many offensive jokes. Like many of my favourite plants the original specimen of this was given to me by another gardener. I think this is going to be an interesting planting to watch develop.

Ornithogalum ponticum 'Sochi'
Bulb sale deliberations
Behind the scenes Jane and I have been making the first draft of our bulb order for the Spring Bulb Sale in September. I have noted which bulbs did particularly well and we will drop a few others in favour of exciting new ones. Our bulb guru, Rene is visiting us from The Netherlands later this week and we will have animated discussions with him no doubt! He will be in time to see the very new Ornithogalum ponticum 'Sochi' which he gave me last year flowering in a Long Tom in the garden.

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