Keep displays going with standby pots

A beautiful hanging basket should be kept going as long as possible. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
A beautiful hanging basket should be kept going as long as possible. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

I met an acquaintance at a local plant retail outlet last week and he was buying bedding plants for his summer displays.

A little late in the day to be doing that, you might think, but this was to plug a few gaps that have appeared as the season has progressed.

His action was spot-on. Far too many give up on their tubs, beds and baskets too soon. Keep the show on the road as long as you can.

Have potted plants ready to fill gaps in borders, beds or boxes as they do in public displays and you extend the summer experience.

When the dazzling delphiniums that greet visitors to Alnwick’s Ornamental Garden ran out of steam, spent stems were pruned to ground level and a regiment of stunning agapanthus, on standby in pots, replaced them. It’s surprising how your own garden can benefit from having a few potted liliums, geraniums or fuchsias on standby, just in case.

In desperation, I often raid the greenhouse to plug container gaps. The variegated foliage of a spider plant (chlorophytum) or Plectranthus coleoides can instantly enhance a display.

This filling-in of voids in summer attractions is inevitable given the diverse elements at large, not least the extremes our changing weather patterns throw at us. Anticipating these is key if your garden has been entered in a competition or is in a high-profile position and therefore a source of pleasure to all.

Village, town and city entrants in our Northumbria in Bloom competition are eagerly awaiting this year’s results. There is certainly pressure on them to maintain the standard of displays that will soon be under the spotlight.

Gap-filling apart, dead-heading, feeding and watering are essential to the longevity of summer plants.