24: Autumn 2009

Author: Hazel Finney

Plants in Pots

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Plants in potsHazel Finney

I enjoy plants in pots – they are so versatile. They can be moved, re-arranged, stood on bare patches or added to hard landscaping. Outside our back door is an ugly drain with an assortment of pipes on one side and a manhole cover on the other. The manhole cover is disguised with ivy trained around the base of a large salt glazed pot that is a deep honey colour. In front of the pipes are hardy evergreens in plastic ‘terracotta’ pots, which come in a large range of shapes and sizes. In deep shade the leaves of Sarcococca confusa reflect the light while the small white flowers smell wonderful in the depth of winter.

In the next pot is Aucuba japonica ‘Salicifolia’ with good leaves and large red berries in the spring.
An Akebia quinata is trapped in a 17″ pot and tries to escape by climbing up Netlon attached to a pipe, the subtle colour of the flowers shows up well against the pale house bricks. The fourth and last pot contains an ivy Hedera helix ‘Goldheart’. At the moment this is full of yellow flowers and hoverflies, later there will be berries, which turn from yellow to black.

The understorey is furnished with three smaller pots containing two more ivies, one lime green and one variegated and a fern, Dryopteris sieboldii. These form an interesting group, which distracts the eye away from pipes and drains!

The small blank spaces either side of the garage door have set pieces of ivy growing up trellis panels. This is not necessary but it gives a limit to the size of the ivy and another texture. Hedera ‘Ivalace’ backs Ilex altaclerensis ‘Golden King’, which lives in a large pot with half the base removed to allow it to root into the soil. More ivy covers this pot and on the other side a variegated ivy, a euonymus and Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ contrast well. I have Asarina purpusii in two large clay pots and a third one, a half pot, is home to Hosta plantaginea, a very sweetly scented hosta which is not quite hardy, but is happy in some sun as long as it is well watered and as it flowers later than other hostas, is very welcome.

I use grower’s pots for ricinus and cannas and move them into frost free quarters when necessary, reserving them to slot into any gaps in the borders in summer, hiding the pots with foliage. This saves digging and saves bulbs etc., from disturbance. This system is good for growing tender climbers as the pots can be put close to shrubs. Given a good compost with added slow release fertilizer and plenty of water, these plants grow better than those in the ground and watering takes me no longer than plants in the ground do.

For a winter display to be seen from the back of the house, I have planted two urn shaped pots with blue and white pansies (Beaconsfield), these are under-planted with Narcissus ‘February Gold’ with ivy tucked in between. In any bad spells of weather they are moved to the greenhouse.

I am very fond of foxgloves, so having a good batch of self sown ones in my vegetable patch, I have used a mix of old compost and good soil in the pots and stood them, three to a 12″ pot, in a sheltered spot for the winter. These too will be used to fill gaps if they do well.

With all these pots to move around, my pot mover is invaluable. In the absence of one of these gadgets husbands or other male persons are quite useful!

First published in the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Group Newsletter, Spring 2008
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 24
© Copyright for this article: Hazel Finney

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2009. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.

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