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Tubs and Troughs

It’s hard to be enthusiastic about gardening when the weather is grey and miserable. But think ahead to what a few splashes of localised colour will do to brighten your back garden and lift your spirits when the days improve.

There’s no simpler way of perking up the smallest garden than with a few well chosen and well placed tubs and troughs.

First think about the sort of container you want. There are so many to choose from and each will look very different depending on what sort of flowers and arrangements you choose.

Plastic is cheap and durable though not particularly pretty, but you can do much to conceal it with trailing foliage.

If you have a bit of cash to splash take a look in your garden centre for some more unusual pots. Plain orange flowerpots are a starting point and look very Mediterranean when placed against whitewashed garden walls.

Glazed pots in earthy tones or bright blues and greens have become very popular recently.

You can look for wooden barrels or elegant urns, sandstone troughs or even chimney pots, which are pricey and don’t allow much space for planting at the top end.

Attention to draining is important so that plants don’t get waterlogged. Make sure you crock adequately and use quality compost such as John Innes number two or three with added peat and grit. Garden soil is unsuitable as it becomes very compacted.

Once you have chosen your pot think about the colour scheme you would like to use and the types of plant you will need. Sketch a few ideas of how you want the finished article to look.

If you have selected a tall vase shape or a regency urn you will need to give your planting some focal height for the other plants to cluster around. You could use a central New Zealand flax or climbing Black Eyed Susan.

Trailing greenery always looks good draped over the rim or tall tubs or tubs with are positioned high up.

A marvellous standby for tubs is petunias. They come in a profusion of colours and will last all through the summer, flowering generously the more you deadhead them.

Pansies always look bright and cheerful and there is a lovely range of trailing geraniums that will add interest.

Lobelia and allyssum are fast growing and will cover soil while the rest of the plants get established.

A single colour theme can look most attractive. For example, white will look cool on the hottest of days.

White pelargonium, begonias, tobacco plants and trailing verbena look very good together.

Wherever you position your tub or trough, ensure that it is secure. A stone box full of plants and earth will be heavy so make sure that if it is on a sill or ledge it can withstand the weight. Consider fixing brackets underneath the window if the ledge is not wide enough.

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