Purple Wellies

One woman's musings of plant lust for intoxicating blooms

Winter Containers

If you’re looking to create some garden containers to lift the spirits this winter, and I’m sure there are a lot of us that need a pick me up as the days darken, then don’t just stick to the traditional pansies in a six-pack you find in every garden centre. Be a little bit adventurous with your choice of plant.

It’s important to always choose some key plants which will add the structure to the pots and it is worth investing more in these as they can last for four seasons with other filler and spiller plants being swopped out around them. Bear in mind that plants don’t put on lots of growth over the winter months so it’s important to cram lots in so it looks filled out.

Your key plants could be something evergreen such as dwarf Phormium ‘Jester’ with apricot-pink and green striped, strappy leaves creating an architectural silhouette. Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ would also make a striking backdrop with its near-black foliage. Australian Rosemary, Grevillea lanigera ‘Mount Tamboritha’, if you can get hold of it, is a more unusual candidate. I grow one of these in my front porch. With a sunny wall behind them for shelter they will reward you with up to 10 months of blooms throughout the year.

For the smaller plants you could opt for the classic Cyclamen persicum, sold by most garden centres in shades of red, white and all tones in between. Just remember these aren’t hardy so will need to sit in a sheltered location. Cyclamen coum is the hardy version, but is not always readily available. Heucheras come in a multitude of foliage colours and will help to bulk out containers. Some of the autumn flowering saxifrages, Saxifraga foruntei might still be flowering this month too. S. f. ‘Black Ruby’ makes for a welcome change in full shade, as does evergreen fern Polystichum setiferum ‘Plumosum Densum’.

For the trailing plants to make up the magical trio you could use Euonymus fortunei ‘Wolong Ghost’. Its narrow dark green leaves have pale veining. Similar to this is Trachelospermum jasminoides ‘Waterwheel’, often having red tints in the leaves in winter. Clematis ‘Nunns Gift’ is a diminutive clematis with creamy flowers. Any one of these could trail over the side of the pot. Why stop at one pot though? You could opt for a collection displayed as a little theatre and decorate with fairy lights.

To ensure your pots have good drainage over the winter, lift them off the ground slightly with pot feet. Don’t water the containers once planted up until in position, otherwise you may struggle to lift them. Winter containers don’t require feeding, as this only encourages fresh growth which could be frosted, but they will need regularly checking for watering as they can dry out. As long as you keep this in mind then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy
Posted: 01/12/2020 22:02:33 by Pamela Barden