Saturday, 26 March 2011

Container Gardening Part 2

Last time I talked about the "hot" right side of the house, today I'll focus on the cooler west left side. This side gets direct sun for a short time in the morning, but then spends the rest of the day in the shade. It's also longer than the other side of the house, so most of my pots live here.
Since most of our weather here comes from the west, this side is also less windy and a bit drier, so daffodils like these don't get blown about so much. This pot has got quite crowded now; when they've finished flowering I'll split the bulbs up, particularly those at the left end which is rather congested.
This side of the house is the "nursery" side where sick or recently moved plants reside. A couple of weeks ago my Mum was weeding her own garden and got a bit too enthusiastic around her bleeding heart (dicentra spectabilis), splitting a bit off. She potted it up and gave it to me, as I wanted one of these, but the shoots seemed to die off. A week later though it's recovering as you can see from this photo, with nice pink shoots coming on.
On the right are a couple of small crocus pots; these haven't flowered well so I think I need to move them. The pot next to them is one of my new plants; a red oriental poppy (papaver orientale Allegro). I don't know if this is susceptible to snail damage, so I've left the pot un-armoured and will see if they go for it in due course. Next to that is a young New Dawn rose; this is a cutting I took a few years ago and it's now getting bigger, though unfortunately you can't see its full size in the photo. I'm hoping it might flower this year.
In this photo (right to left) we have my new delphinium (Belladonna Bellamosum), some more crocuses, the bleeding heart and my Himalayan Poppy. I took seed from this last year with a view to germinating more plants; according to internet sources, it can be difficult to germinate, needing very cold temperatures. So out I went in December with my carefully conserved seed, which I scattered round the base of the parent plant. I did this because the snails like this plant and since the pot is now armoured, any seedlings would have a good chance of survival here. As you can see, the parent plant is looking very healthy, and it is now surrounded by tiny seedlings. It's too early to say if they are poppies, there are certainly a few weeds in there, but I'm hopeful.
Right to left: first my little oak tree. Yes, really, don't ask me why, I really don't know why I have this. Then a wild flower which I love, Purple Toadflax. It grows tall spikes of purple flowers, and seeds itself readily everywhere. Next to that two varieties of rosemary, one what I call a "tree" type, with thick woody branches, and a new bush type. These are here for now as they've just been repotted, but once they've settled in they'll go round the other side of the house for the sun.
The pot on the right here is a carawy plant, which I'm growing to make seed for breadmaking. The other pots contain dwarf sweet peas, which I picked up in the garden centre recently and I'm hoping they will create some nice colour in the summer.
This is a slightly scruffy area unfortunately as I haven't got this far in my tidying. The plant on the right is woad, which I intend to use for dyeing wool as soon as I know how to do it! The other pot contains mint, along with a collection of dried leaves and moss! Mint is best kept in a pot as it is very invasive; this one is useful for mint tea and other culinary uses.
On the left is another herb; chives, which come back year after year. The large pot contains some marjoram and lady's mantle which you can see at bottom right. This pot needs attention, I suspect that I will need to replant this year, but I'll wait to see what comes up first.
On the right here are some narcissi with a single crocus lurking. In the white pot is a large hosta, which I've had for about 15 years and still grows very well. Hostas are very attractive to slugs and snails, so the pot is well armoured with copper tape. On the left is a pot of sage. Behind them is this plant:
a clematis which I was given as a gift some years ago. I've long since lost the label and have struggled to get it to flower. I've tried cutting it right back, half back or not at all. Whatever I do, it produces leaves but no flowers. Any ideas? I'm kind of losing the will to live with this plant, and have no intention of doing anything with it this year, just to see if it will prove it's worth the space and all the watering. If it doesn't justify itself this year, I think I'll remove it and find something else for this large pot for next year.

So that's a quick tour of my container garden. It's very easy to do, and I'm hoping to expand it again this year, with some new perennials along with summer bedding plants. Most of my pots are plastic which makes them easy to move, it also reduces water loss on the hot side of the house. Terracotta pots are lovely but with our harsh winters, they often don't last too long. Watering can be a bit of a chore in the summer, but there's nothing nicer than arriving home and seeing the splashes of colour against the sides of the house.
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