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Container plants

You don’t need a garden to grow some fantastic plants. Many people either don’t have the space or time for a garden.

Plants in containers offer a fantastic alternative and it is possible to grow many sorts of plants this way, including vegetables and fruit, and there is a wealth of choice in containers available. Here are a few of my recommendations:

For all-year round colour: Pieris japonica ‘Flaming Silver’
A striking variegated relative of the popular ‘Forest Flame’. Throughout the year this compact evergreen has green leaves, boldly margined and streaked cream and white. In Spring the new growth is bright red, turning peach and eventually green as it matures. Also in Spring, white bell-like flowers are produced on short stems, grouped in clusters. Plant in sun or shade and acid (ericaceous) compost. Feed weekly during the Summer.

For fragrance: Erysimum ‘Walberton’s Fragrant Sunshine’ (Perennial Wallflower)
Bright yellow flowers with a sweet fragrance from April to August. A neat, compact evergreen that is ideal for patio containers in full sun. Plant in multipurpose compost and feed through the Summer months.

For trouble-free gardening: Cotoneaster ‘Coral Beauty’
Grown as a small weeping tree, this variety of the ubiquitous Cotoneaster has more to offer than many small trees. It is evergreen and has arching branches that become studded with small white flowers in early summer. Flowers are followed by a fine display of bright red berries in Autumn. It is hardy and easy to grow in most sites and soils. Plant in multipurpose compost and feed about fortnightly in Summer.

For architecture: Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’ a “Japanese Maple”
This has arching branches that spread sideways forming an interesting shape. In Summer the plum coloured fern-like leaves cover the branches, and these turn bright red in the Autumn. It is a perfect specimen for a large container, particularly a lead-effect one, which will provide a good foil for the leaves. Shelter from strong, cold winds is essential and plant in acid (ericaceous) compost. A good subject for a sheltered part of the garden in partial shade.

For eating: Tomato ‘Tumbler’
An ideal subject for a hanging basket. This needs a sheltered sunny spot in the garden. Buy young plants or grow your own from seed. The plants (usually about 3 in a 30cm basket) can be planted indoors, in multipurpose compost. By early June it should be warm enough to hang the basket outside. The small juicy tomatoes keep coming if you water and liquid feed regularly.

For Summer colour: Fuchsia ‘Mrs Popple’
This is an old favourite and is still hard to beat. It is easy to grow in sun or light shade and is one of the hardiest Fuchsias. The flowers are produced in profusion and they have a rich purple shirt, surrounded by cherry-red wings. In mild seasons, flowers are often produced into October. It can be planted in a mixed container with Summer bedding plants to give even more colour. Plant in multipurpose compost and feed regularly through the Summer. Cut back the old stems in Spring.