Big, bold and beautiful. Modern garden designers tend to lean towards this vision when asked to use pots and planters to add architectural interest to clients’ gardens. Ornate traditional planters made in the beautiful materials of marble, cast iron and lead have long been used in gardens. In their heyday, they sat proudly and majestically on the gates of country houses, or adorned large sweeping terraces.
More often than not these planters remained empty, with their owners seemingly happy to allow the beauty of the material speak for itself. There is a lesson here somewhere. Much as pots and planters look great overflowing with the bright colours of summer flowers, or helping to show off a specimen shrub, the effect of a beautifully made pot even in a less expensive material such as clay, can often make a bigger impact.
The Egyptians were the first to make use of clay, producing the humble flowerpot to move their plants about. Of course, in more recent centuries, it is the Greeks who are more famous for their beautiful terracotta pots. Also, the Cretans have long used their local clay to make big pots to store grain, olives and olive oil.
Authentic Cretan pots are fired to 1150c, which means they can withstand the most brutal of our winter frosts. So in recent decades, these very same pots, in all shapes and sizes, have been finding their way to our shores. With their earthy tones of rust and tan, they have become increasingly popular as features in both the traditional and modern garden.
For the more adventurous, the huge range of frost resistant fibreglass pots is increasingly popular with people wanting something a little different. Not only can you have any shape or size to suit your garden, you can choose any colour under the rainbow, and they come in a variety of finishes. Fibreglass pots are strong, lightweight and durable, and when planted with a colourful display of plants, adds a touch of class to your contemporary or courtyard garden. Because they are so light, it makes it easy to move the planters so you can experiment with where to position them and finally, they are relatively inexpensive. These planters are particularly useful in the northern areas of the garden, where you can use them to help to brighten a dark or shady spot.
No matter what material or style suits your tastes and garden, pots and planters help to add the personal finishing touches to your outdoor space. Frame the borders of patios, terraces and balconies or use planted with small trees or specimen plants to add height to small courtyards or gardens. You can plant with evergreens, colourful seasonal plants, trees, and bulbs. The choice is yours.
Written by Walter Dall’Omo
August sees us spending the most amount of time in our gardens. With the warmer weather and longer evenings, we love to immerse ourselves amongst our plants and flowers. Maintenance is usually minimal; reduced to dead heading, removing damaged leaves, perhaps painting features or boundaries, and watering.
Adding summer seasonal features or garden dressing, is becoming an increasingly popular trend. There is a huge array of reasonably priced lighting, bunting and quirky features on the market, so that it is easy to create a style that suits you. It is amazing how just a few detail pieces can lift the look of your outdoor space. Be as creative as you like, it’s all about having fun and experimenting.
Plants that are looking particularly good at the moment include Penstemon, with their abundance of heavy tubed flowers; Crocosmia, with their range of bright, hot colours; and the architectural foliage of Fatsia japonica is looking good too. For a showy climber, look towards Campsis radicans.
September brings increasingly chilly evenings. It is also a great time to start planting spring flowering bulbs and to begin to cut back herbaceous plants. It also sees autumn leaf colour beginning to develop, but more on autumn foliage next time.
Remember to prune lavenders before the flowers finish. Although this seems an odd thing to do, it does prevent them from splitting and breaking the main branches. It also gives them a compact shape for next year.
Enjoy your Summer whatever you happen to be doing in the garden!