Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on creating a beautiful floral display | Garden | Life & Style

Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on creating a beautiful floral display | Garden | Life & Style Alan Titchmarsh tips floral display gardening spring 771081


Create a dazzling floral display in spring with troughs and tubs full of beautiful blooms

There’s no better way to get the gardening season off to a cheery start than with a bold array of flowers, and the one place you really need them is close to the house.

A few spring bedding plants in tubs by the front door, or in troughs or planters on the patio – or even just a well-filled window box – is enough to welcome you home. Visitors arrive feeling more cheerful; even the postman will have a spring in his step. And all without breaking the bank.

The first essential is a warm, sheltered spot. Since the weather can still turn a tad wintry on occasions, spring containers need to be kept within the shelter of walls, or in courtyards or similar semi-enclosed areas where their blooms won’t be badly bashed. 

And please don’t put them in an east-facing spot, since the early morning sun wreaks havoc with frosty petals – with fast-thawing turning them brown.

Since spring bedding doesn’t last for more than a couple of months, there’s no need to fill your containers with fresh new potting compost.

If you’ve pulled out any winter bedding that’s gone over or you still have last summer’s containers sitting around, just pull out the remains of the old plant and, as long as the last lot weren’t affected by root pests or diseases, you can usually get away with simply topping up your tubs or baskets with more compost. 

Now comes the good bit.

Take a trip to your favourite nursery or garden centre and choose a selection of plants that go together nicely. You might decide to go for a formal look, using the same sort of plants, or create a tasteful colour coordinated look, using flowers of contrasting shapes and sizes in a limited-colour palette – say yellow, cream and green, or pink, lavender and mauve.

Or you might prefer the more riotously mixed “potted cottage garden” look, which allows for more freedom to use all those lovely colours. 

Stand the plants on the ground and arrange them roughly in a group, so you can gauge the effect, and don’t be afraid to change your mind about the layout until youare entirely happy with the result.

Since spring bedding plants often have to rough it a little, it’s worth looking each one over carefully to check its condition – make sure there are no broken, brown or rotting leaves. Choose plants with flowers that are starting to open but still have tight buds to come. They’ll keep going much longer than those that already have lots of open flower heads. (I know it’s obvious when you think about it, but it’s so easy to get tempted by a beautiful display in a nursery.)

Choose pot-grown spring bedding plants if possible, and bear in mind that the less messing about you do when planting them, the better. If you already have a tub of old compost, just tidy it up and make pot-sized holes with a trowel. Then, sink your display in place, leaving the plants still in their pots.

If you are starting with an empty container, half fill it with gravel or chipped bark and stand your pots of plants in position, then fill in around them so they are firmly in place, with their roots safely insulated against chilly nights.

The last thing flowering plants, especially bulbs, want is any root disturbance. Your display will last much longer left alone, as they will keep flowering instead of wasting time trying to repair root damage. 

If you buy cheaper plants growing in trays or “strips”, separate them carefully to minimise root damage, plant them into compost and be prepared to mollycoddle them more.

Spring containers need a little aftercare, but it’s mostly limited to an occasional watering, unlike summer containers which need attention virtually every day. In spring, the weather is cold and damp and plants are barely growing, so you only need to water them when they start to dry out. This could be once a week – maybe twice if it’s sunny or windy, since the compost dries out much faster.

When the weather warms up more, a light dose of diluted liquid tomato won’t go amiss. By then, you’ll probably have a few older flowers going over, so pop out and do some dead-heading to make the displays neater. 

And when some of the earliest and more short-lived blooms, such as spring bulbs or primroses, are entirely over, just lift out their pots and slot something new into the vacated spot to continue the display. 

Then, it will be about the right time to give tubs and hanging baskets a totally fresh start, complete with fresh compost and your long-lasting, frost-tender summer bedding scheme.

Petal power

Pansies and violas – reliable, in many colours and good mixers with bulbs such as grape hyacinth. They’re long-lasting if regularly dead-headed and grow four to six inches. 

Dwarf wallflowers – compact and available in orange and yellow shades. They’re mid-spring flowering and are good with tulips.

Primula – various small perennials, such as denticulata and rosea. Recycle them into the garden after the flowers finish.  

Omphalodes (blue-eyed Mary) – compact, evergreen perennial that flowers April to May. Replant them in light shade.

Forget-me-nots – bushy blue flowers, available mid-spring. They’re great with tulips.

Double daisies (bellis perennis) – large red, pink and white double daisy flowers.

Ranunculus (turban buttercups) – large, showy double buttercups available in spring. They’re spectacular but not long-lasting.

Spring bulbs – tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs are often sold in pots just coming into flower. Use alone or to mix and match.

Source : EXPRESS

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