My Gardening Week November 9th 2013

Planted up a new large terracotta pot for the front gate which Sanna had fallen in love with  yesterday at Glenconnor Garden Centre .  I will fill it with winter flowering pansies for the time being and in the spring will decide on which plant  to put in permanently which at the moment is between a small Japanese maple or a large leaved hosta such as the Empress Wu which I bought last week in Johnstown Garden Centre . The position of the pot is in light  shade under trees so this would suit a small maple or hosta which I would be watering / feeding on a regular basis anyway during the growing season .

As usual when planting up containers I pack loose rocks , bricks and gravel into the base to help drainage and finished off with good commercial planting compost and finally with a good topping of white gravel around the planting which gives a nice finish but also helps drainage .

I also stand all pots up on bricks as this helps protect against frost  and the extra height  adds a bit of impact .

There is a bit of work involved with pots as you can’t just plant them up and then forget about them … well you can but your plants will not thrive and will end up looking sickly . Each spring I replace the top quarter of soil in each pot and replace it with good potting compost … John Innes professional compost is excellent and can be bought on a three for two bag basis in Glenconnor …. supermarkets generally sell poor quality cheap compost  and you get what you pay for .

Generally I tend to use just a few plants mainly box balls which seem to enjoy life in a pot and can take a bit of neglect although boy do they respond to a bit of care and the odd drink of tomatoe fertliser . For dark places I use aucuba japonica / skimmia as it will grow in really low light conditions and in fact I generally use aucubas in such areas as the evergreen leaves stay a nice pale green unlike the brassy gold colour when placed in the sun . In the lower garden I use large blue pots under trees and grow big leaved hostas such as sibyldiana elegans or aureomarginata and because they are far away from the main garden I very rarely give them water or any attention other than slug pellets in the spring but critically they also receive very little direct sunlight and each year they keep giving a great display from April to October .

Slug pellets ? Did you pick up on that innocent remark ?!!

Nothing rises a debate among gardeners quite like slug pellets and I have heard all sorts of eco anti slug measures you can take before your beloved hostas and dahlias are devoured such as laying down copper filings , pea gravel ( on the basis slugs don’t like to crawl over gravel ) , beer left out in a saucer  ( the theory being you get them pissed and they lie around helpless where you can pick them up and dump them in next doors garden ) but take my word for it none of these work and you end up with raggedy looking hosta leaves and dahlias that never grow .

From the moment my hostas peep their head above ground in early march I dowse them in slug pellets and repeat the dose every three weeks and sometimes after heavy rain until about mid May when the slugs no longer fancy the mature leaves and as a result I have great hostas every year .

A gardening friend asked me this year but what if the birds eat the slug pellets and my reply was that on the grand scheme of things I work hard all year to give the wild life in my garden a green environment so I can live with the guilt of maybe ( and nobody can produce evidence that most birds are not stupid enough to avoid the obviously artificial pellets ) harming a few birds .



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