How one can plant a patio pot of winter colour
Of course, after I say colour I mostly mean green – evergreens – but plants that hold onto their brightly-coloured berries also are useful, as are early-flowering bulbs comparable to snowdrops.
There are dozens of snowdrops to select from and although not all are on hand in garden centres that you must look out for Galanthus elwesii ‘Remember Remember’ and Galanthus plicatus ‘Three Ships’ because they ought to be in flower by Christmas in most regions.
But first you have to choose your point of interest – that’s more likely to be a small evergreen shrub with a purpose to dominate the design.
Skimmias always work well because they maintain their berries all winter. Skimmia japonica shrubs are nice and compact, with slightly aromatic leaves and Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ have red berries in winter, scented flowers in spring and are available with an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Dogwood is another good option owing to its vivid stems: the dogwood called Cornus Sericea ‘Flaviramea’ is yellow and Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ is a flaming red.
You needs to be in a position to buy them of their red or yellow stemmed glory at present, but they have to be pruned to ground level in early spring to retain their colourful winter bark.
Sweet box, or Sarcococca confusa, is another great choice as it has tiny little lace flowers from December to March which smell sensational – a sweet honey scent that lifts your spirit on a bone-cold day.
It also has quite small evergreen leaves and stems that won’t dominate other plants an excessive amount of.
To complement your center of attention you’ll need some bedding plants. Cyclamens are perfect with their pleasing heart-shaped leaves and chic white, red or cerise flowers.
Heuchera are good for foliage, with evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage in green, bronze and purple-tinged green.
Or you are able to always use traditional winter bedding plants along with pansies, violas and primulas – but don’t leave it too late because they want warmish soil while they get settled.
Pots also needs to be lifted off the floor for winter, on special purpose-made “feet” or simply on bricks, to assist with drainage.
And if the elements turns seriously cold it’s worthwhile to cover pots with horticultural fleece or simply tie some bubblewrap around them.