Colourful containers are a welcome sight in any garden, and pots, planters and troughs can transform a dull back yard or a gloomy terrace or patio. But rather than just using containers from the garden centre, why not make some wackier, more unusual planters? With a little bit of imagination and ingenuity, it is amazing what you can achieve.
Plastic flower pots, especially the larger ones, make a useful and practical home for all sorts of flowers, but they’re not exactly pretty. Use them, by all means, but transform that boring plastic by wrapping it in hessian. Available in a range of colours from classic pale brown to reds, greens and blues, it’s weather tolerant and tough but looks great.
Plastic pots can also be made more exciting with a bit of planting around the sides. Before you fill the pot with compost, cut holes just over an inch in diameter at regular intervals around the sides of the pot. There you have it: you’ve created a planter with great side-planting holes, perfect for small bedding plants, allowing you make a tower of flower power. Just fill with compost to the base of the lowermost holes, add plants through the holes, add more compost to the next layer of holes and continue upwards, finishing off with plenty of colour on the top.
Acrylic paints are a great way to colour a boring or discoloured container, and they’re quick drying too. Go for a single colour to match in with existing garden features, or even the colour of your front door or window frames. Alternatively, create a pattern of wild, fantastic colours and make your own planted-up art gallery.
Get creative with some mosaic tiles from your local craft or hobby store. Covering a container may take a while, but it’ll be a lot of fun and if time is short you could always just make a mosaic rim. Use rich colours to make a Moroccan style pot. When winter comes, its best to bring a mosaic pot into a frost-free spot to ensure it weathers the worst of the weather in style, or if you can get hold of the grouting adhesive used for swimming pools that should make it more weather resistant.
The bigger the tyre, the bigger the planter – from wheelbarrow to tractor, there’s lots of potential. Make a deeper planter by stacking two or more tyres on top of each other, fill with compost and get planting. For a really striking effect, plant trailing flowers such as trailing geraniums around the edges so that they cascade over the sides.
Try planting up an aged wheelbarrow: it’s great for a larger display or even for permanent planting, and as long as the wheel still goes around you can even move the display around to brighten up different areas of your garden! If there are no holes in the pan of the barrow, make sure you place a layer of gravel or stones in the base so that the compost does not become waterlogged.
Turn a punctured wellington boot or one that’s simply too small into a stylish planter. Fill the foot and ankle area with gravel or grit for drainage and to make the wellie more stable and less likely to fall over, add compost and plant up the top. You can also use acrylic paints to jazz up a boring pair of wellies, but make sure the paint is totally dry before you start planting.
Don’t bin your old gardening, walking or work boots as they have planting potential too, and because they tend to have heavier soles and are lower to the ground they can even make useful planters in a less-sheltered place. Plant up with bright bedding, or for a long-term display use a few house-leeks or sempervivums – their fleshy rosettes of leaves in shades of green and purple look great!
An old kitchen or bathroom sink can be put to good use, but don’t forget to pull the plug out before you add the compost or else you’ll end up with no drainage and the plants will quickly become waterlogged and die – but then again, if you leave the plug in place and add some sealant to ensure that it is firmly in place, you could always make a miniature water garden.
For a serious show-stopper, I’ve even seen a loo cistern packed full of trailing plants including blue and white lobelia and trailing silvery foliage plants. The mass of blue, white and silver made a great waterfall of colour from an otherwise boring water closet.
Visit Pippa’s website www.pippagreenwood.com and you’ll find some great gardening items: Nemaslug, green controls for leatherjackets, chafer grubs, ants and greenfly, plus garden plant supports, raised bed kits, Easy-Tunnels, gardening tools, Grower Frames, signed books and more. You can even book Pippa for a gardening talk!