A lot of plants are stuffed into this window box – two ivies, four skimmias, three standard olives, several violas and about 10 tulips. It’s more than most people would bother with (and it wouldn’t have come cheap), but it looks gloriously exuberant. The olives, skimmias and ivies are evergreen and so look good all year; they also provide the basic structure. Only the bedding plants will need to be replaced when they run out of steam. Classy.
The walk from Lambeth North tube to the Garden Museum isn’t the most scenic (it’s better to walk from Westminster, and enjoy the view of the river and Houses of Parliament on the way), but I like it.
If you go via the Imperial War Museum, there are some interesting town houses (some with nice gardens) to nosey at. If you take the short cut, you walk through an industrial estate that has some unusual-looking businesses. Whichever way you go, you walk past a cafe that always looks horrible and an industrial bakers that always smells amazing. And then you end up at the Garden Museum, a haven for garden lovers in the midst of thundering traffic.
Last week I took the industrial estate route, and saw these pots: a grass (carex), ivy (its stems growing upwards) and multi-stemmed silver birch. There are quite a few of them, outside what I think is a design studio. A nice bit of permanent, low maintenance but high-impact planting, don’t you think?
In some contexts, evergreen box and ivy – and nothing else – would look a bit uninteresting/unimaginative. But against this very distinctive cream and black tiled background, it looks perfect. There are lots of similar window boxes outside the Grange Langham Court Hotel.
It’s not all monochrome, though – there’s usually a splash of colour from bedding in hanging baskets around the front door.
Ever since I set myself the challenge of only featuring winter pots that don’t feature all the usual suspects such as ivy, skimmias, pansies, cyclamen and so on, output on this blog has dropped dramatically. So it’s just as well that I came across these winter containers at John Massey’s garden.
John isn’t a fan of pansies as they often get mildew, so he prefers to use other plants. In these pots, he’s got a few winter stalwarts such as skimmias, carex and ivy, but to them he’s added flotsam and jetsam from around the garden: seed heads of grasses and perennials, leaves, berries and pine cones. It’s a technique that florists use all the time, and one I’m definitely going to adopt.
I’d heard about Sarastro‘s legendary greenery but had never seen it for myself until last Sunday. The building and pavement are swathed in ivy, ferns and bedding and it’s pretty much an unmissable feature of Covent Garden’s hinterland. It’s one of those gardens-where-there-is-no-garden that I am always pleased to see.
As I was taking a pic, a tourist couple asked us to take a picture of them under one of the arches. They then offered to return the favour and take a pic of us. I’ll spare you that, though, as I’ve yet to see a good pic of myself (no offence to Paul Debois, who took the pic at the top of this blog), and this one was no exception…
I find this pot a bit depressing. It’s perfectly nice and everything, but the sight of it makes my heart sink a little.
Let me explain. This container contains all the usual suspects for winter interest – ivy, tree heather, cyclamen, pansies and an ornamental cabbage. Go to any garden centre now and these plants are pretty much what’s on offer. And they’ll continue to be on offer until next spring. And therein lies my problem.
Whereas the choice of plants for summer pots is vast, with lots of potential for colour and exciting plant combinations, there are hardly any options for winter pots. It’s quite hard to find an unsual cyclamen or pansy, let alone come up with an amazing planting combination. It takes real skill and imagination to come up with anything a bit different for winter, and lots of people don’t bother.
And so, the hunt is on. I will endeavour to bring you some winter pots that are truly amazing, and hereby ban red cyclamen and purple pansies from this blog. Let’s just hope I that doesn’t mean its pages will be empty…