Petunias, fuchsias and begonias are lovely but there are other things that grow happily in pots. Honest.
I was at a fair this weekend and watched as people queued up to buy plants for containers. The stall holder knew their market well and had stacked his stand with nothing but petunias, begonias, fuchsias, lobelia and bacopa. By the end of the day almost the entire lot had sold out. And the most popular by far were the ready planted tubs of petunias.
Nothing wrong with that. I love petunias. My mother used to plant them and I have a great fondness for that strange scent they have and their unique sticky texture. But, really, there are so many other things that you could choose instead. So next time you head to the market or garden centre to buy in a flush of seasonal colour to dangle by the front door or pop in an old galvanized tub or bit of terracotta do stop and ask yourself. Do you really want your pots to look like everyone elses?
And if the answer to that is no, then, joy there’s barrowloads of alternatives you could try. How about some of these?
Related: Growing plants in pots
Instead of geraniums… try scented geraniums. There’s so much variety in leaf colour and shape and scent. Pick the leaves to drop in drinks. The flowers come in all variations from white through pink to deep satiny plum dark Lord Bute. They’re easy to look after and can be overwintered. So saves money too.
Instead of begonias if you want exotic colour then plant dahlias. You can get small ones that’ll flourish in a fair sized pot and they’ll keep on flowering until November in warm areas.
For something a little wild try this wildflower plant combination from Crocus.co.uk which takes my favourite gaura and teams it with Echinacea.
Other ideas include crocosmia, lavender, Japanese anemones, cosmos, erigeron and of course verbena. There’s so much to choose from.
In fact there are so many delicious alternatives that I still can’t decide what to plant in the Sheep Garden. So more of that another time.
How long do seeds last?
In the meanwhile here’s just a little something that caught my eye recently…
How long do seeds last? We are so gulled by legislation that it’s become almost automatic to sort through the fridge and end up chucking a perfectly good looking tub of yoghurt or bar of chocolate because it’s passed its “sell by” date.
In the same way I was sorting through my old Fox’s biscuit tin of seed packets to see what I could give to the local fair and what I should sow myself or chuck. And then I remembered an email I’d had from Colin the PR at Mr Fothergill’s seeds with the story of a Kent gardener who recently discovered a forgotten packet of Moneymaker tomato seeds at the back of his spare fridge.
He’d been given them as a gift from a petrol station years ago. Indeed, it said on the packet that they’d been packed in Jan 1996. He thought, why not give it a go, and this February 2016 had sown a margarine tubful.
Guess what, the 20 year old seeds germinated. Pretty much every one of them. I checked on line to check the lifespan for tomato seeds. Eight years, apparently. So there you go. Don’t chuck yoghurt unless it looks and smells off. And always give your old seeds a whirl.