Has Claire gone Potty?

Pots in the Garden

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Today I counted 60 of the smaller, moveable, pots around the garden and 30 of the large, fixed into place pots. They are dotted all around the garden, tucked into corners, by doorways and steps while some take centre stage in their area.

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Polygala Myrtifolia

All the plants are potted into peat-free compost,, which has a slow release fertiliser added. In the past I have tried adding swell gel to the mix but this seems to result in the wettest summers on record so I gave it a miss this year!

All the smaller pots are watered every other day and only once a week for the larger pots. All pots are fed with a liquid feed (we use a seaweed feed from Maxicrop) every other week.

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Pelargonium ‘Lord Bute’  by the doorway to our Nursery

We are lucky to have a Nursery here, which works to provide the garden with all its plant needs and so I have the pick of an amazing collection of healthy plants for the pots.

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On the whole, I plant up the pots with just one variety of plant. This gives maximum impact and allows each variety to shine. Often the pots do all the work such as the Lions Bowl in the Herb Garden which is potted up with Thymus ‘Lorna Doone’  (see photo above) or the fantastic bronze urns on the Tower steps which are filled with the simple but very effective Helichrysum microphllya (see photo below). These plants complement the pots but also allow the pots to look their best.

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Using the pots we can try out new plants to see if we like it in the garden, the colours are very important at Sissinghurst and it gives us a chance to see if a plant really is the right shade.

Many of the larger pots may have several different plantings throughout the year. In some cases we take out the spring planting and re-plant, and in other cases the main container has a plastic pot hidden inside which means all I need to do is take that pot out and slip the new one into its place. You can just see the plastic pot inside the terracotta Ali Baba pots in the Lime Walk in the photo below.

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Euphorbia mellifera

In the photo above you can also see damage to the pot caused by frost, we cover all the vulnerable pots which remain outside during the winter to help preserve them.

We have some amazing containers to use at Sissinghurst which helps some of the most effective are the troughs in the Top Courtyard, which Vita created using old stone sinks simply raised up on bricks. Some pots are not really pots at all, this Chamomile seat was made by Copper, Vita’s chauffer, from some of the old bits of stone found in the garden.

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Watering has been very important in all this hot weather, but don’t forget your pots once the rain comes, the plants will cover the pot and the rain won’t penetrate down to the roots, and also if they are tucked into a corner they may not get the rain… I say this so that when you see me diligently watering in the rain you don’t think I have gone too crazy!

Claire Abery (Gardener)

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