I have previously written a blog about how we use pots in the garden and how we care for them here: https://sissinghurstcastle.wordpress.com/category/sissinghurst-in-summer/page/9/. This time I would like to reflect on, and review, the year. Now that Autumn is finally here, my thoughts are turning to the next season. As pots come back to ‘behind the scenes’, I take some time to think how the plant has performed before deciding whether it requires potting on, re-potting or discarding.
Some plants will outgrow their pots so I’ll start again with a new plant, propagated in our nursery. The peppermint verbena for example, has been delighting our visitors with its fantastic scent all summer long but is now far too big for its pot. Before it’s thrown away our propagator will take cuttings. I have one from last year which is now in a 3 litre pot. I won’t pot it into a clay pot just yet as space in the glasshouse is at a premium, so I’ll wait until spring.
Many of the plants I use are annuals so once they are finished they are composted – once I’m sure that cuttings or seeds have been collected.
Some pots haven’t done very well, such as the new Salvia ‘Peach’. We planted these in the big pots in the Lime Walk. Whilst they are a very beautiful salvia they were not a good choice for the Lime Walk, producing very varied and poor growth.
Historically, we’ve always had impatiens in a lovely pure red but since the prevalence of downy mildew affecting impatiens we have stopped using them. We briefly tried an ivy-leaved geranium but they were too flat in their habit and the wrong shade of red, so it’s back to the drawing board. We need to be organised in advance as it will take nearly 80 plants to fill all seven pots. Any suggestions are very welcome!
The six Top Courtyard pots have done very well this year, a simple planting of Verbena ‘Sissinghurst’ and Heliotrope ‘Princess Marina’ has given us colour and great scent throughout the summer and will continue to look good until the first frost.
Some plant and pot combinations are tried and tested and are often repeated. The white flowered black -eyed susan (Thunbergia alata white form) looks perfect in the Chinese Butter Jar in the White Garden. The Helichrysum petiolare with Begonia sutherlandii planted in a low, decorative clay pot is the perfect introduction to the colours which await you in the Cottage Garden just around the corner.
This year we grew a new salvia, given to us by the Head Gardener at Haseley Court during our gardener’s visit. Salvia ‘Phyllis’ Fancy’, has white flowers with a delicate purple tinge; it’s a tender salvia which grows to roughly 1m x 1m, so just one plant fills a large terracotta pot. Pots are a good way to see how a plant performs and this salvia has done very well and I hope to see it used further in the garden in the future.
Many of the permanent troughs, urns or planters have multiple plantings over the season, starting with bulbs. One of the raised troughs along the house wall, started with Fritillaria michailovskyi which was replaced with Aquilegea glandulosa, was briefly planted with Pulsatilla rubra and now has Sedum hidakium as the finale.
Bulbs are a great way to start the season. Our bulb order is on its way and I hope to start putting lots of them into pots very soon. You can have layers of different bulbs planted together, or just a single species, or bulbs planted underneath forget-me-nots or pansies; all are effective and your forward planning will be rewarded in spring.
So, I shall continue to bring pots in as the weather changes, pot up bulbs, make notes and always try to stay one step ahead.
Claire – Gardener