Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MELLOW FRUITFULNESS; as the Days Grow Shorter, Plant Your Pots with Vivid Colours That Will Give a Warm Winter Glow

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MELLOW FRUITFULNESS; as the Days Grow Shorter, Plant Your Pots with Vivid Colours That Will Give a Warm Winter Glow

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

WHEN flowers and foliage are in short supply, containers come to the rescue. Through autumn and winter -- and if you're smart, right through to spring -- you can keep the colour going on patio or terrace as well as hanging basket and window box.

There is much to inspire. Pansies are the prettiest of flowers. Don't underestimate the long-term value of a simple potful of Universal pansies, specifically bred to keep blooming through winter.

They might shut up shop through the bleakest days, but will come up smiling when the sun warms them. Heathers are the easy plants of the lean season. Packed several to a large pot, they make a tactile, soft pink cushion of bellflowers.

Cyclamen, large and small, are the daintier option, while frilly ornamental cabbages, richly tinted deep pink and fir green, make an unbeatable windowbox display. Bring in the berries -- pink pernettya, crimson skimmia, tomato-rewinter cherry -- and the mix hots up. Balance the colour with a few grasses such as bronze carex or an evergreen, like euonymus; upright rosemary or clipped lavender will deliver a fragrance hit, too.

For double-action containers, Petersham Nurseries' florist and stylist, Ronny De Koning, underplants autumn and winter containers at the garden centre with bulbs, to provide new green shoots -- and fresh flowers -- in spring. At Petersham, the containers themselves are paramount. Vintage apple crates, wirework baskets, terracotta pots weathered with applications of yogurt, old copper tubs are all employed.

This season, De Koning is planting zinc buckets with a cool silver and white combo of shiny silver Convolvulus cneorum, white heather and lacey grey foliage filler Senecio Silver Dust. Snug beneath the multi-purpose compost will be bulbs of white crocus Jeanne d'Arc and -- as a spring wake-up call -- tangerine tulip Veronique Sanson. …

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