Normally I love using my experience from 12 years of managing garden centres, to tell you what to buy. However this bank holiday weekend, i'm going to give you some hints and tips about what to avoid, to save you money and heartache when they fail.
So first for those wanting to do container gardening, I'd suggest avoiding these dark stone pots.
Although they are very stylish, and look great with a specimen bay tree or box ball in them, unfortunately the dark colour attracts heat, and in my experience, the roots of whatever is in them fries whenever we have a sunny day.
Light coloured terracotta, seems to be much better at keeping specimen plants in healthy condition, and when you've bought an expensive specimen plant, you don't want to replace it every few months.
I also came across this planter this week
it's a self watering herb planter, with a water reservoir at the bottom and a ledge to sit the pots on with capillary matting to keep them well soaked. - Nice Idea, and i've used a similar trough for my strawberries for several years, - but in this case, the pots are just too small. After 2 weeks, the herbs my client had put in were already straining to get out, and they wouldn't have kept in good condition for long, no matter how much water they were given, because almost all herbs like to spread. (and if you want to find out more about herbs in general, check out my Beginner Herbs, and Herbs and Salads workshops)
With the surge in popularity in growing your own, the garden centres are stuffed with vegetable and herb plants. I'm all for trying to grow your own salad, and have often cheated by buying plants rather than growing from seed, particularly if i've missed the sowing time, but radishes?
A pack of radish seeds is less than £2, and they are so easy to grow, it's always the first thing I try with children at school gardening club. - plus the fact that they need to be thinned, means that this pack is going to make a bunch of radishes cost £3.49 rather than a few pence.
Sweet peas, - What could be better for summer cut flowers and scent? But beware, Sweet peas have deep roots, and need lots of water. If you are going to put them in a planter, don't be tempted by one of the shallow wigwams, plant them in a deep chimney pot.
And lastly, Lavender
With long lasting scented flowers, it's easy to see the attraction of these plants. But this table of cheap plants have been grown in Italy. Apart from the air miles to get them here, this means that the plants have been grown on a lot faster than the English nurseries can produce them. - This makes them cheaper, but it does mean that if we have a frost over the next few weeks, these plants are likely to be a lot more stressed than anything that has been grown in this country. We have some wonderful herb nurseries here in the South of England, so for Lavenders and Rosemary that will last through our winters, I suggest you buy British.
What have you bought that seemed like a good idea at the time?