Container Gardening

Once the spring-flowering bulbs burst into bloom it is possible to believe that spring has really begun and that Mature is not going to play any perverse tricks. Although a slight frost is still possible in iate spring, bulbs appear to withstand a few degrees of below-freezing temperatures without coming to any harm

Bulbs for spring displays are often sold in ready-to-plant mixtures that include dominant blues as well as colour contrasts in yellow and white Selections for window-boxes and troughs include blue Grape Hyacinths, yellow Crocus chrysanthus, red dwarf species tulips and pink hyacinths For urns and tubs, where extra height is acceptable, you might choose blue hyacinths, yellow Narcissus cyclamineus February Gold', the Darwin Hybrid tulip Apeldoorn' (about 60cm (2ft) high with rich red flowers), blue Grape Hyacinths and blue crocuses

In large tubs a relatively flat spring display looks best, so try polyanthus with the bright blue Grape Hyacinth. Set the polyanthus in a circle towards the outside ot the tub with the centre reserved for a random mixture of Grape Hyacinths and polyanthus. This combination looks stunning positioned against a white-coloured wall tn full sun. For extra height plant blue Forget-me-nots interspersed with white narcissi You could also buy a large herb or Strawberry-growing pot, which has cup-like holes around the outside, and plant a living picture of crocuses at the sides with a hyacinlh and several crocuses at the top

In window-boxes and troughs a montage of small white species tulips, blue Grape Hyacinths and a small-leaved variegated ivy is appealing Another attractive combination is blue stocks, white Marguerites and the silver-leaved Senecio bicolor

Containers can look superb tilled with single plants of one hue. rather lhan a mixture of colours and flowers Examples include a white urn planted with Grape Hyacinths, agapanlhus in a wooden barrel and violas in large-topped weathered containers. When planting only one species it is essential to give thought to Ihe style oi the container, as both will be competing for attention and they must be in harmony.

Left Petunias are ideal in containers. smothering the surface with flower heads. Remove dead flower heads regularly to ensure a continuing display throughout summer

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