A Colourful Winter Planter

A few days ago a friend approached me with a home made planter and challenged me to fill it with colourful flowers. The planter was well made; he had used decking wood which is a good idea. Decking is already treated wood, reasonably wide and value for money. It is easy to work with and after he cut the long strips he simply made a box screwed together with a small pillar of wood in each corner. He had lined it with plastic to ‘retain the water’. I explained to him, that firstly we are not creating a bog garden and the plants will only die unless we slit the plastic for drainage and secondly that during January you can’t expect a riot of colour. He answered me, “come on Boris, I am sure you can do something just make sure  that it will show  a lot of  colour  over the next few months without me needing to tend to it.”

Adding the Plants

I set out to find ‘a lot of colour’ in the garden centre. The only perennial I could find in flower was the Hellebore which I have written about in my other column this week ‘Flower of The Week.’ I then chose two Skimmia plants that were just beginning to break bud and would definitely stay in flower over the next few months. Of course we need to add some green material , for this I chose a variegated euonymus and I found two miniature Christmas trees ( just 25cm. high) that the garden centre were getting rid of at a reduced price.

I took some top soil from my allotment (as bought compost costs around 10p per litre) and filled the bottom half of the planter, and then filled the rest with bought compost, I then eased the plants from their pots [ the miniature xmas trees were so pot bound they seemed to have been left over from 2015!]  and planted them into the trough. I stood back and admired my work but I decided that it would not yet fit my friend’s requirement of ‘lots of colour’ . Back to the garden centre I went – and I was lucky to find that they had a new delivery of cyclamen and it was these flowers that came to the rescue.

After dotting a few plants here and there it now really looks a riot of colour, and then as an extra – I had some hyacinth bulbs that I still had not planted up – and I pushed them into the soil so we are guaranteed colour till the end of March. I topped it up with some wood and leaf chippings from the shredded Christmas tree- [they will spruce up the trough and give passers by a pine scent!] – and  they definitely give it a  professional finishing touch.