Pottering With Pots

I've just put the finishing touches to my summer pots and as you can see this velvety Mimulus aka monkey-flower is my plant choice for the season. I've not grown them before, which in itself is a recommendation to me as well as the red cheerfulness you see pictured. They're supposed to be edible, though with a reputation for saltiness as they concentrate salts from the soil, so I might have a little taste test later!

I have quite a selection of pots in clusters around the garden. This year's dry spring has made me have a think about water supplies and thus edit them quite drastically, so that only my largest of pots will contain annual bedding. This should reduce the amount of water I'm using this year (as does the clustering), and it'll also take me less time to look after them.

The smallest of pots have been removed altogether as I've got fed up of fiddling around with them, and the medium pots have been planted with perennials selected for their scent i.e. lavender (a plant which likes poor dry soils, another tick for reduced watering) and the vanilla scented Nemesia I got at Malvern.

I've bought my pots over a number of years and are quite variable in their design. However, by restricting myself to a general style (Mayan) and a limited palette of colours (greens, browns and blues), they look good in any combination I choose to group together. I also generally have at least 50% of the contents in any grouping the same, which helps to pull the look together. So does pairing planters of the same design and contents either side of doorways and steps. It's at these points, and around my garden benches where the scented plants are placed.

I add a small amount of water retaining gel to the compost - I've found this means I only have to water my pots every other day in the height of summer. A mulch of purple slate also helps to retain moisture.

As I've only just planted the pots up, the plants still need to knit together to achieve the look I want for the summer. So until they do, you'll just have to sit back and enjoy a single red bloom contrasting with the deep blue of the large pot in my front garden ;)

How's your garden looking this summer?

Note: This post has been brought to you courtesy of Reader's Digest Container Gardening. However, all the content is my own and I've been planning to write this piece for a couple of weeks.


  1. I have an ever increasing number of pots - the garden has run out of ground so I have spread onto paths in pots. It also means I can move things around as they grow - and work a kind of rotation rather than have gaps. Dieing plants get moved back, flowering ones come forward. (With young plants - I run re-locate them during the day when the sun goes round.)

    Since we've given up our allotment, there's been a further spurt of pots so I can grow token veg. I'm thinking with some things this saves water because one can be specific about where one puts it.

    Mulch - I have two pots of strawberries (not strawberry pots, just ordinary ones). Since I tucked straw under the fruits, I've needed to water them only twice whereas everything else needs to be watered daily. I've been wondering whether I should use straw under all the plants in the garden!


  2. the weeds double in size as the veggies grow at a healthy plant pace. how long does the water retaining gel last? the few times i have tried potting plants i've got the drainage wrong. what do you use to insure good drainage?

  3. that red socks you in the eye - was any photoshopping involved???

  4. I've been growing salad in pots this year as we're overrun with rabbits. works to a certain extent but they still manage to nibble. also wanted to say thank you for including me in your blogroll. I'm seeing a huge inrease in traffic at projectforty and blogger tells me it is coming via your site. have a good week.

  5. Esther - any kind of mulch, such as you've found will straw will reduce the need for watering in the summer as it keeps the moisture in. As long as you've watered well beforehand.

    Petoskystone - the gel lasts all season. As my pots are large I put chunks of polystyrene (styrofoam) in the bottom of the pots. This also means the pots aren't so heavy to move around as well as ensuring good drainage. The polystyrene's from when we've bought things like Hi-Fi equipment and I keep a supply in the shed raedy for new pots, though I do keep on re-using the old chunks each year too.

    Lu - absolutely no photo alteration was done in bringing you this picture. Actually a lot of the flowers are even brighter than that one! BTW I very rarely manipulate my photos - I like to get the shot I want with the camera. It saves a lot of work!

    Projectforty - I'm so glad people are coming your way from here. Thanks for letting me know :)


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