Mary Jones from Bath moved to McCarthy & Stone’s Lambrook Court development just down the road from her old home. ...Read more
Now, when I say I'm 'upcycling items to turn into plant containers' I’m not talking about wonky wheelbarrows and old gardeners’ boots. As shabby chic and charming as these may look in an eclectic garden, I’m always hoping for something that's a little more special.
When you begin searching for containers at the recycling centre, you're going to notice that there are plenty of items that you could buy at a garden centre, that people are actually throwing away. I regularly pick up terracotta containers, wooden troughs and the odd (fake) stone pot that make excellent additions to my garden. As long as the items fit your purpose and style, my advice is, have a go! Thankfully, many recycling centres and antique shops will deliver to your door if you do get carried away with your container hunt – or if you find something that's too heavy to carry away!
No matter what the container is that you have chosen, there are two key basics when it comes to growing plants in them. The first is drainage.
To ensure that you have good drainage in your plant container, you'll need to add a decent sized hole in the bottom – or several. You can either do this by drilling it yourself or by getting a family member or friend to do it if you don't feel experienced enough.
Once you're happy that your container has adequate drainage, simply add a piece of broken pot or a recycled chunk of polystyrene bedding to the bottom of your container to stop the compost falling through. There’s no need to add a layer of grit or gravel in the bottom, as this just reduced the amount of compost that will reach your plant's roots.
Choosing the right potting compost can seem like learning the dark arts, especially when you're confronted by piles of bags at the garden centre. I like to keep things as simple as possible, so if it’s a container where the same plants will grow for more than 2-3 years, go for John Innes No. 3 compost. This is a rich compost that works well for a wide range of plants, trees, shrubs and climbers as well as mature indoor plants that may need replanting.
What to plant is the fun and easy part. Most garden centres have sections of winter bedding plants, such as pansies, ivies and primroses from which you can have carte blanche. These will flower a little in the winter month, providing some welcome cheer, before bursting into full bloom next March or April. To add a twist to your arrangement, plant an impressive corkscrew hazel in the centre that will bear catkins in February.
Once you have created your perfect container garden, here are Leigh Hunt's top tips on getting the most out of it, all year long.
So, feeling pleased with my not-on-the-high-street containers, I look forward to the upcoming winter, making use out of them and I hope that you can take inspiration from this too. Do buy whatever you like though... whether your plant container is shop bought or upcycled it's what goes into them that matters the most. Although, in my opinion, from the few pounds spent on my upcycled plant containers, I get even better satisfaction than I would from a brand new winter coat!
Mary Jones from Bath moved to McCarthy & Stone’s Lambrook Court development just down the road from her old home. ...Read more
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The world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s the most glamorous day out in the gardening calendar.
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