The Bristol Magazine July 2022

Page 68

GARDENING - JULY v2.qxp_Layout 2 22/06/2022 14:51 Page 1

GARDENING

Pots of style

Whether you’re living in an inner-city apartment with limited outdoor space or simply want to brighten up your paved plots, Elly West explains the beauty of pots...

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hatever the size of your garden, there is always room for some pots. They’re especially useful in small spaces, where container gardening might be the only option if you want to exercise your green fingers, for example in city courtyard gardens, on balconies or roof terraces. When I first started gardening, while living in London with a small, mostly-paved plot backing a terraced house, necessity meant that many of my plants were allocated to containers. I found it quick and satisfying to fill a pot with plants for an instant display that could be positioned wherever I wanted, then replanted or moved on when past its best. A few well-placed pots can bring life to a bare patio or provide a welcome focal point in a lacklustre area of the garden. Scent and colour can be added to seating areas, around doors or windows. Climbers can be grown against fences and walls that lack soil at their base. Plants that need a particular soil type can be introduced and catered for. Gaps can be filled in a border while you wait for other plants to fill out. Just about anything can be grown in a pot, from classic summer bedding plants, to bulbs, perennials, climbers, herbs, fruit and veg, shrubs and even trees. However, container plants do need considerably more care than those growing in the ground so it’s worth choosing both your plants and your pots carefully if you want your plants to thrive. At the risk of stating the obvious, plants in pots have limited access 68 THE BRISTOL MAGAZINE

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JULY 2022

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to nutrients and water, so feeding and watering are the most important factors in keeping them healthy. Most will let you know when they are unhappy, but by that point it may be too late, so start as you mean to go on with the right-sized pot and a good-quality compost, and a watering and feeding regime. Wilting leaves are thirsty, and will usually perk up with a good soak, but if they’re dead, brown and crispy, they’re gone. Leaves that are turning yellow may indicate a lack of nutrients. Larger pots will sustain plants better, and are best for permanent planting of shrubs, trees or climbers. Choose a soil-based compost such as John Innes No.3 for long-term container plants. It’s heavy, but holds more nutrients and will also take longer to dry out than its multi-purpose counterparts, which can bake hard and be bone dry in a matter of hours in full sun. Peat-free composts are environmentally preferable, and peat sales to gardeners are set to be banned by 2024. In summer, you may find you’re watering some of your smaller pots twice a day to keep them hydrated. Mornings and evenings are best, and aim at the roots to avoid scorching the leaves. Most composts hold enough nutrients to last a couple of months, but after that, your plants will benefit from a liquid feed every fortnight, or use slow-release granules according to the instructions. Gardening in small spaces was a theme at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. New show garden categories included Container Gardens and Balcony Gardens, introduced for the first time last year as a response to the pandemic and to encourage people


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