I have been busy, busy, busy out in the garden over the last month, seizing every available wind-free moment to get out and tidy up. As I’m a fair weather gardener (preferring not to be out when gusting westerlies are blasting around) that limits the available time somewhat.
Part of the drive to get on with the garden has been the need for pots! You see, we garden increasingly in pots, and over the last month the impetus has been to get the summer plants out and the bulbs in.
Let me take you through our gardening year and show you how we are increasingly becoming a (potty?) potted garden …
The first spring flowers – always a great lift – are in the pots on our patio. These are February’s Iris Reticulata from a couple of years back. The plants here flower first because the patio faces south and is the most protected part of our garden, sheltered from all winds except the extreme (and very nasty) easterlies …Hard on their heels are daffodils, tulips, narcissi and forget-me-nots …Then – come April and May – we start serious potting. The bulbs are all turfed out (to be replaced with fresh next year) and we pot up sweet peas (you can see them staked against the wall) and seeds …Seeds, seeds and more seeds …We grow poppies, cosmos, dahlias, nicotiana, nigella etc etc – all in pots. Early in the spring we have to accommodate these seedling pots and they find homes all around the garden. Here they are beside the raised veg beds …Meanwhile the main flower bed is looking just gorgeous with the plants that are growing in these little beds …The trouble is that these flower beds are just crammed with spring goodness, and there’s not much space for later flowering plants …Come mid-June we got an evil vicious blast of easterly wind, and this is what it did to the pot beside our front door! One of the reasons we grow plants in pots is so that we can move them at such times, but alas, this one’s just too big to move …It also caught the bottom of the raspberry plants, but luckily the other pots are protected by the raised beds … Everything recovered of course, and in early July the pots took on a life of their own – bursting with growth, full of promise …The patio beds were really flourishing now – and so were the pots around and about. Hard to tell which is which …The sweet peas we potted up earlier were doing very well in their protected spots beside the bench …There was a feeling of abundance and leisure about the place …The biggest problem with growing so much in pots is told in this picture which I rather think was taken with Ilsa in mind. But it’s the backstory that’s really important here – yes, the hose. All that constant watering! And this year – with hot hot days for so very long – called for more watering than usual …But while all is glorious around the patio, these little beds by the fence look tired and weary. It is now that the pots come into their own. Spread around in the flower beds, they don’t add much yet, but just wait – they will!In the pots round the patio we had some rather stunning black poppies in flower, and they demonstrate so well why we grow so many seeds in pots. These seedlings need nurturing – sown in the flower beds they are often lost, eaten by snails, or just buried by other more dominant plants …Black poppies lose those sultry black petals all too easily, but when the plants are grown in pots we can easily take them in when strong winds are forecast …Come mid-August the pots in the flower beds are beginning to prove their worth with fabulous blasts of colour … This pot of mixed cosmos and poppy plants is my favourite …Look at the light on the sea behind these pots of poppies and nicotiana!This September the landscape was dominated by the rich brown of the ploughed field. The hot hot summer had pushed everything ahead. Normally our view would be of golden fields for some time into September, but this year they are long gone. With this view the pots are only just holding their own …The Dahlias still look striking against the blustery sky …Happy gardening days for our little family! (this was before Ilsa’s attack that I wrote of in my last blog) What were Stephen and Ilsa talking about?!!And on the patio the sweet peas pots are still doing very well though everything else is looking a little lack-lustre …But come October it’s all change again – time to empty pots and plant up veg seedlings to overwinter in the greenhouse! These are spinach, lettuce and salad greens. They won’t produce a great deal, but it’s still nice to be able to pick some fresh salad veg over the winter …And the other pots? Well, they’re all sorted, emptied and tidied away – the glorious summer flowers consigned to the compost heap.
New spring bulbs have been planted, and here are the pots today, 24th November, – still a few lingering calendula and nasturtium flowers, but those pots at the back which look so dormant are – well exactly that!Watch this space come spring!
2 thoughts on “Potted gardening”
Loved this tour of your colourful garden. Your open situation is perfect for the plants you grow – poppies, lamb’s ears etc just love the light. Interesting also to see the range of plants you can grow by the sea. Agree that pots provide great colour though as I get older I find the watering tiresome during hot spells (and Steve gets grumpy about having to move the big ones around!). Very impressive red lilies, now on my list for next year! Have so many questions! Do you just compost last year’s bulbs? Do you keep your dahlias? Do you incorporate any garden soil in your pot compost?
Thank you, Mandy, for your kind comments! I guess really we are driven to this “potted” solution because the emphasis is always on the small beds under the fence as you always look south and to the sea here. You have ambient colour and interest in your garden, but that doesn’t really work here (I always wonder what you and Steve would make of our straightline paths?!) The lilies love the pots – they multiply and I am always repotting and sharing them around – will try to remember to bring you some when I next come south. No! We don’t compost old bulbs – just plant them around – beds everywhere now full of glorious spring colour. Stephen is experimenting with taking dahlias in, leaving them in ground etc – not worked out perfect solution yet. We fill pots fresh yearly with 50/50 mixture of purchased compost and compost from our own compost heap – always lots of seedlings alas, but good stuff. Oh – and we feed them regularly! To use the hose is a luxury – I normally water from water butts and every other week add liquid feed. Hard work, but pays off.