Gardening: Plant containers to last till spring

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I DON’T know about your containers but mine have taken a hammering over the last few weeks with the gales and rain so I reckon it’s about time we all rang the changes and got ready for the next season.

Planting containers now to see us through autumn, winter and into spring is a little different from our summer ones. The plants won’t grow so vigorously at the moment so you need to plant everything fairly close together. A multi purpose compost is fine.

I like to have a range of plants in my pots to cover all the bases – texture, evergreen foliage, perfume, berries, trailing habit, colour and surprise. For texture, bronze grasses sway in the breeze and small leaved hebes in greens or silver give another interesting dimension. Small shrubs like euonymous go with all colour schemes. For scent the little Miracle Cyclamen, hardy down to -5 degrees, has gorgeous flowers and a sweet perfume.

Everyone loves berries in the winter so try little pots of pernettya in shiny white and pink or gaultheria with pretty white bell-like flowers and bright red berries.

Trailing plants soften the look and break the line of the edge of the pot. Ivies, lamium, ajuga and lysimachia will all do the job well and survive the winter chill.

Pansies and violas are a must as they flower now, right through the winter and just get better through the spring. Hardy chrysanths are one of the most popular flowering plants in the autumn and come in many colours to suit all palettes. Just like the other hardy plants containers, they can be planted in borders afterwards. I always pop in a few dwarf bulbs to look forward to in the spring. Crocuses, Iris, Tulips and Narcissus are all fabulous.

If you plant a little of all these, your pots will provide colour and interest right through to May.

n Carolyn Spray is director of Pentland Plants, Loanhead, www.pentlandplants.co.uk, 0131-440 0895. She is also a presenter on the BBC’s Beechgrove Garden. Special October offer at Pentland Plants – Spend £25 or more and get a FREE hardy chrysanth in a 2-litre pot worth £5.99 ( while stocks last).