Treat plants as pets and you won’t go far wrong.
Spring is a lively and swiftly advancing season, as plants wake and do their thing in quick succession. Containers, in all their variety, provide a dynamic and adaptable way of growing plants and bring the very best of the season right on to your doorstep or terrace – instant gratification!
Because they can be relatively easily and speedily updated or swapped, pots, troughs and window boxes also offer a rare chance to keep pace with this rollercoaster season. It’s a case of out with the faded and in with the budded and ready to peak.
As the season advances to a close and now the majority of spring-blooming bulbs have dropped their petals, there can be a lull before those summer plants best suited to container culture are ready to take over. The gap can be bridged quite admirably, though, by looking around for handsome foliage plants including ferns, succulents and evergreen herbs. In garden centres you’ll also find an increasing range of flowering perennials and shrubs, from diminutive saxifrages to high-rise dicentras.
I’ve selected seven very distinct planting schemes that decant the essence of late spring into a container but will continue even as spring dissolves into summer. With care and a little re-jigging some will last for months. Plant them now, shoehorning plants in for immediate effect. Split them up and re-pot them or plant out in the garden as and when they fade or become too crowded.
Unlike plants in the border that, once established, will largely fend for themselves, those confined to pots will rely upon you for food, water and grooming. Treat them as pets and you won’t go far wrong. Above all, containers provide a great opportunity to experiment with form, texture and colour. And don’t feel bound to track down the exact species I’ve chosen – look out for other varieties of the same plants for similar effect.