Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lettuce Give You a Frill This Summer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lettuce Give You a Frill This Summer

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

THE great thing about summer containers is that you can team together the most unlikely plant partners and, for just one season, you can get away with it. You don't need to be a horticultural expert: you just need to team colour, shape and texture together in a creative way. Instead of making a predictable herb planter, for example, spread the assets: tuck cream-and-green pineapple mint between lilac scabious flowers, add cascades of prostrate rosemary to a window box of white osteospermum, or boost a display of pink patio lilies with ruffles of purple basil.

Add edibles for diversity as well as to give you something delicious -- but choose with care: a hearted lettuce will leave you with a hole after harvesting, but a sowing of cut-and-come-again lettuce will provide a fresh green frill that will keep on going.

Aubergines, chilli peppers and tomatoes are all highly decorative and just need a terracotta pot to show them to perfection. Buy them in bud now with flower and fruit to come.

For the first year you can buy Cavalo nero at garden centres, unimaginatively labelled black cabbage. The dark green leaves will grow like large crinkly fleur de lys, making striking foliage for months to come, with the promise of Tuscan soup next winter. All of these edibles look great planted with gold and crimson French marigolds.

As well as group plantings, don't underestimate the impact of one large statement plant in a fabulous pot. Think white-flowered datura in a metal tub; a lantana lollipop decked with vivid orange and scarlet flowers, pulling in the butterflies; a mass of sky blue plumbago; a phoenix palm underplanted with tropic-bright nasturtiums. Fig, grapevine and olive standards make great container plants: give them roomy enough planters so that you can grow lavender or trailing balcony geraniums around the base of the trunk, creating a mini Mediterranean landscape. …

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