Gardening: Plant containers for a winter displayBy Linda Fort
October 12, 2012
As the summer bedding plants fade away, now is the time to prepare the containers in the garden for the winter display.
Pansies are the obvious choice along with primulas, heathers and the miniature hardy cyclamen (C coum, C hederifolium and C purpurascens).
Small shrubs can also be used in the display – Skimmia japonica being an obvious choice, along with different forms of euonymus.
Winter flowering shrubs destined to make much larger plants – like Viburnum tinus and Choisya ternata – can be used as a temporary backdrop if you can find young plants and have somewhere to put them afterwards where they will grow very large.
Stonecrops and houseleeks add evergreen interest to displays in troughs and shallow trays.
And buried in the display, bulbs will allow the show to go on into the spring.
Miniature daffodils, crocuses and irises are ideal, but a visit to the garden centre will provide plenty of ideas.
In winter, it is best to station the containers in the sunniest spots.
In full summer sun, containers can suffer from drying out, but in winter, to keep them flowering, they need all the sunshine there is.
I usually go for pansies by the front door in reddish rusty colours, which will go with the Christmas wreath when I hang that up later in the year.
In the back garden I go in for monoculture, with one species of bulb in one colour for each container.
As each comes into flower, I move them into the place where I can see them best – by the kitchen door or outside the front door.
I carefully label the pots and when they are over, I transplant the bulbs into the borders or along the path at the side of the house where they can come again every year, if that is their inclination.
Regular readers will know that I do this every year with Iris reticulata and, although the bulbs flower in the pots, they never flower again in the garden.
This year I am going to attempt one small group straight into the ground and, although I fully expect they will disappear in the following year, I hope they will at least flower for one spring.
Meanwhile, the garden is taking on a tawny colour, with the leaves on the Amelanchier canadensis just beginning to show signs of turning – but not quite in their full autumn glory yet.