Pots of delight
PUBLISHED: 13:43 26 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:43 26 May 2016
IT'S a truth universally acknowldged that city centre gardens are likely to be small. Very small. Often shaded by other buildings and offering little scope for planting. No matter how much good soil, compost and fertiliser you dig in, nothing seems to thrive for long. What should be a delightful refuge turns into a bleak, unsightly patch before your eyes.
Kate Gould recognises the problem only too well. She is an award-winning garden designer and a regular exhibitor at the Chelsea Flower Show. Her solution is refreshingly simple: “Where traditional in-ground planting fails, a decorative pot with shade-tolerant plants will fit the bill, creating an interesting focal point and turning a dull area into one full of life and colour.”
But with so many different pots to choose from where do you start?
“Terracotta, stone and concrete pots have a matt finish, and although these have their place in the garden they will not highlight a shady space as well as glazed, painted, reflective metal or illuminated planters do. The more eye-catching the planter the more the focal point is reinforced,” says Kate.
“Glazed ceramic pots help to make a space appear bigger by bouncing the available light around. They generally look best planted simply with topiary such as Buxus balls. When glazed with a metallic finish they really come to life and because the glaze is thick and very strong the containers remain pristine for years,” she adds.
Mirror-polished or brushed stainless steel also makes great planters, says Kate, and these often work well close to the house where they can highlight a north-facing porch and create a striking entrance piece. “They will require a regular polish to ensure there is no limescale build-up and that fingerprints are removed, but other than that they are simple to maintain,” she adds. ”Metal and cool shade work far better than metal and sun where the planters often overheat and ‘cook’ the roots of the plants inside.”
Moulded plastic might sound a little ordinary but there are many manufacturers creating high shine contemporary planters that have a long lifespan and cost very little. They are available in a wide range of colours to add impact in the shade.
But for something a little out of the norm, try interior-lit planters, in a form of plastic that emit an attractive glow at night.
“As with all planters drainage is key,” Kate advises. We use small spacers under the planters to allow water to drain, together with a filter layer of a geotextile fabric and an aggregate drainage material which helps to ensure that the water draining out of the container is free of compost and therefore less likely to generate dirty patches and algae on surrounding surfaces.
All plants require water and more so in a planter so regular watering and a slow release fertiliser or liquid fertiliser in the summer months will help keep the plants looking healthy.
(picture caption) Glazed ceramic pots
(picture caption) A contemporary brushed stainless steel planter containing hydrangea and ferns highlights a recess to the side to a front door.
(picture caption) The cylindrical holes in the planter are backlit at night creating a dramatic effect.
(picture caption) Brightly coloured planters if lit at night can create striking focal points.
(picture caption) Striking in their own right, illuminated planters look equally good when left empty.