Container gardening

Can I still plant spring flowering bulbs now?

Bulbs being planted I was asked this question this week, and the person who asked me, had been a bit over enthusiastic at the end of season bulbs sell offs.  I had to admit that I had too, and still had bulbs to plant, - so will they still flower now this season?

Well this isn't the first year that I've gone overboard with buying bulbs, and run out of time and energy to plant them before the Christmas onslaught.  I've normally planted them in pots in the greenhouse at the beginning of January (it's usually my post New Year overindulgence head clearer!) but last year, January was a nightmare in this household with tradesman everywhere, and I didn't get round to planting out the last of my tulips and narcissus until the last weekend in February. March last year was warm, and a lot of tulips came up early, but my pot planted ones came up later than most, and were flowering at just the right time for a client that needed them in Mid May. The Tete a Tete daffodils gave me a show of yellow by the front door after i'd finally got rid of the workman, and the remainder of the tulips were planted in a container on the patio, - these are now poking up again for this year, - i've just spent a while planting up some of this years extras, so i'm hoping for a continueing show of tulips, muscari, crocus and tete a tete, from my pots, when those in the ground have gone over.

So if you've still got bags of bulbs lurking, - as long as they are still firm, and havn't dried out or gone mouldy, plant them in pots and enjoy the display this year, - and let me know how you get on.

Hanging basket watering

if you are like me, and hang up your baskets by your front door, and then watch them whither as the summer goes by and every time you open the front door with hands full of shopping, work bags and kids packed lunch boxes, you think "I must water that" only for it to completely pop out of your head the moment you cross the threshold, here is my top tip for watering.
It involves milk bottles, - either the delivered by the milkman glass type, or the plastic bottles in 1, 2 or 4 pt type. When you go to rinse it out, to recycle in either your plastic council box, or to put by the front door for the milkman to collect, - don't take it to your recycling point empty, -fill it again and use that water for your hanging baskets, - A hanging basket in a usual summer week (i'e not drought conditions) will keep looking fresh with 3 to 4 pints of water a week.  If it does completly dry out, take it down and soak it in a washing up bowl for half an hour to rehydrate it, and then you back to your milk bottle rounds!

Summer Patio Colour and Scent

i've got a new patio this year, thanks to Mike and the team from Merrow Landscapes, so i'm on the look out for new pots and things to fill them.  My favourites so far this week are, -
Ivy Leaved Geraniums, - there are some wonderful new deep Carmine red varieties.
Oesteospernum, - many shades of white, pink and purple, but my colour of the week is a terracotta
Lotus - now i've planted this one several times, but not managed to get it to flower, - while the foliage is a lovely soft feathery silver, and so worth it on its own, the flowers are orange and red.
I've teamed the Oestespernum and Lotus in a pot as underplanting for an Olive. It gave a great effect, so it's one i'm going to repeat.
i've also decided to use an old barrel that I had as a planter for herbs, - this has been used as a mini pond, and for various bean and sweet pea tepees over the years, but i'm going to use it near to the kitchen door for my most used herbs, - Rosemary (which i'll keep well trimmed) Parsley, Chives and Thyme.