April is an exciting and busy month to be a gardener; however the weather can still be unpredictable. Beware of frosts in April, and keep vulnerable plants and new shoots protected at night if a frost is forecast. Garden Centre’s and DIY stores (including here at P&R Garden Supplies) will be full of seasonal colourful plants. Containers and baskets are the perfect way to add colour to any garden, however the choice can be overwhelming and it’s difficult to know where to start. To create an appealing container remember the rule “thrillers, spillers & fillers”
Firstly theirs the plants your instantly drawn too, or ‘thrillers’ they are going to be the stars of your planting scheme, providing a central focus for any other plants you add. Thriller plants are generally tall and add height, structure and instant impact to the basket or container. Some examples for pots include: Canna Lily, Cordylines, and goldcrest conifers. For summer baskets, choose a bushy fuchsia, Nemesia or a regal pelargonium (Geranium).
Then theirs ‘spillers’, these are plants that trail or hang over the edge of baskets or containers. Trailing plants keep container plantings in scale, and soften the edges of the container. In baskets, trailing plants such as Lysimachia (creeping jenny), Nepeta and Dicondra provide foliage that can trail 3ft or more! Trailing petunias (often called Million Bells or Surfinia) will be smothered in flowers and trail about 2ft. Bacopa (snowflake) and trailing lobelia are also widely used.
Lastly we have ‘fillers’ these could be plants with interesting foliage or flowers that compliment, but do not distract from the thriller plant. Fillers are rounded or mounded plants that fill in the middle area of the container or basket. These plants bridge the tall thrillers and trailing spillers, add lots of interest, and showcase the focal points of the arrangement. Examples of fillers include impatiens, coleus, begonia semperflorens, salvia, marigolds and ageratum.
When it comes to choosing colours, anything goes. You could choose to use plants of a single colour, or contrasting colours. Reds, Oranges and Yellows really brighten up a dull area, although I prefer pastel schemes of pinks and mauve’s. Or match the colour of the plants, to the colour of the container or basket.
Whilst containers and baskets look best when planted with all three types of plants, you can also choose a single plant for a container or basket, for example tuberous begonias, semi-trailing fuchsias or Petunia surfinia all look stunning on their own. Perhaps choose 3 pots of various sizes, plant a thriller in the largest pot, a filler in the medium sized pot, and a spiller in the smallest pot and group the three pots together.
As well as planting up containers and baskets here are my top 5 jobs for April:
- Start to feed citrus plants
- Prune fig trees & trim faded flowers of winter flowering heathers.
- Sow seeds of runner beans, sweetcorn, marrows, courgettes, squashes and climbing beans indoors in 3 inch pots full of seed compost.
- Pinch out the growing tips of bedding plants such as fuchsias.
- Feed, Weed & Mosskill lawns.
Whatever April brings I hope you get a chance to step out into the sunshine and enjoy the season as you tackle this months gardening jobs.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon ,
01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk