Distinctive Containers by Kathy Brown

We were so pleased to welcome Kathy Brown to our Zoom meeting on 20th April. 
We were looking forward to her talk as Kathy is well known to us as she lives at The Manor House in Stevington and many of us have visited her four acre garden as it is open to the public on certain days during the year …

Kathy is also well known for her exceptional and indeed, distinctive container gardening.  So a treat was in store and we were not disappointed.  Kathy explained that she has been growing plants in pots, window boxes and hanging baskets for many years and, when living in London, she set up a weekend business, with a friend, planting containers for customers.  Out of this a book was born showing recipes for each container detailing the type and how many of each plant per container, so that people could achieve success with their own efforts.

When planting a container there are three important points to remember.  Good drainage, good compost and the right plants for sunny or shady spots.  Kathy gave us lots of top tips.  Hardy plants, which will remain for a few years are best served with John Innes No 2 combined with grit.  Glazed pots provide better frost protection than terracotta.  Plastic pots inside terracotta or glazed pots are easy to replace throughout the seasons.  Broad, flat bottomed pots provide greater stability and one can always place a brick in the bottom if a tall plant is liable to be blown over.  Straight sides are easier to manage if one needs to remove a plant with vigorous root growth like an agave or agapanthus.  Some plastic pots come with a water reservoir.  Glazed pots  retain moisture.  With very large pots put a smaller pot in the top  – this will save on compost.

Kathy was keen that we should look at the shapes we are creating through the use of different plants and foliage.  She suggested that we raise pots onto a table, a bench or a wall or use metal supports to bring the plant closer to eye level.  In her own garden Kathy uses repetition planting with groups of small pots for added impact.  She uses egg shells for house leeks and lifts snowdrops, fritillaria and other plants growing in the garden to enhance her pots.  Kathy showed the use of cornus sticks and off cuts from heucheras to add interest.  Fritillaries, violets and primroses do well in containers and provide a lovely wild planting scheme.  In terms of small narcissus Kathy  recommended February Gold, RipVan Winkle, Minnow and Topolino. These were  underplanted with bellis daisies, anemone blanda and chionodox.  Kathy planted London Pride around the edge of pots containing narcissus to extend the interest of the pot through the growing season.  Ferns and grasses do well in pots.  Carex Evergold grass looked stunning when planted with snowdrops.  Hakonechloa macra “Aureola” in a hanging basket in a sunny position takes on a golden hue.  Hostas and ferns placed high up give added interest in a garden.  Lavender and thyme in shallow pots in the sun, edible flowers in hanging baskets, Lilium Regale underplanted with heuchera  – the ideas just keep coming.  Kathy didn’t forget to mention the dreaded vine weevil whose grubs particularly enjoy heucheras – nematodes or Provado will help to control them.

There were lots of questions for Kathy as everyone loves pots and containers.  Many thanks to her for providing us with a wealth of new ideas, new plants and new     combinations.

A small collection of photos from Kathy’s talk:

Please join us next month on 18th May, on Zoom of course, when Colin Ward will be telling us everything we need to know about ferns  Details can be found on our website.  As usual this meeting will be open to all members and visitors.

                                                                                                          Linda Truscott  

New members and visitors are always welcome. 
For more information contact:     Linda Truscott on 01234 270747


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