Recently I had the opportunity to visit the gardens at Highgrove in Gloucestershire, the home of HRH Prince Charles. The gardens have been on my unwritten Bucket List for some time, so when I heard a local Coach company were organising a trip there, I jumped at the chance. And it was amazing! The Gardens are beautiful! They are not pretentious, over manicured or municipal. The gardens at Highgrove are homely, personal, even quirky. There was plenty there to enjoy, inspire, and replicate. So today I want to share with you three of the things that I learnt on that visit.
(For Security reasons, no-one is allowed to take photographs on their visit to Highgrove Gardens, so I am using photos from alternative locations for the purpose of this post)
Look and Learn No.1 ~ How to use Containers
It seems to be common knowledge that HRH Prince Charles loves Terracotta pots, Oil Jars and Pithoi. This is probably too common, as he is often given them on State visits and the like. Some of them are B.I.G! There are even a couple of Oil Jars that stand over 6 feet tall in his garden. Now I realise that we may not have the space (or the cash!) for such large vessels in our gardens but we can learn how to use what we have.
- First of all consider where you could use Containers and Pots as a statement. Do you want to have them either side of a gateway/archway/exit/entry point? Could you use a single Container as a feature?
- If using a pair of pots or a just a single item, use the biggest you can find and accomodate – big pots and containers always have better impact and wow factor
- Not all containers have to be planted up; leaving them unplanted can be just as effective in the right setting
- Consider whether you want to plant them with a seasonal display or a permanent one
- In a shady area try using a grouping; stack pots of several sizes, leaving some on their sides. Plant ferns or Hostas amongst them
- Bring life to a dull corner with a collection of pots – try to use ones that are of a similar colour and/or material, and several sizes to create a cohesive look
- Age your terracotta containers and pots by ‘painting’ them with yoghurt or diluted Horse manure to encourage mossy growth
- If you are unable to buy purpose made pots and containers consider using alternatives eg chimney pots, old baskets, metal wheel rims. All can look very effective when planted up.
Look and Learn No.2 ~ How to care for Containers
Many of the Pots and Pithoi in Prince Charles’s Garden are old and valuable. To help preserve them, the gardeners fill each one with Bark chips, to prevent them freezing and cracking in the winter. The reason being as the bark chips decompose they give off enough heat to warm the terracotta. However containers left full of soil or water over winter are in danger of it freezing and expanding, which then cracks the pot. If you like to change the seasonal planting in your pots, you can also use bark chips to semi fill a container and to raise a plastic pot with planting within it.
Look and Learn No.3 ~ How to disguise Plant Supports
This idea is so simple it will make you go “Doh! Why didn’t I think of that?”
One of the garden ‘rooms’ at Highgrove is planted with lots of Delphiniums. These, like many other tall plants need staking, and before the plants are fully grown. But it can end up looking like a forest of Bamboo canes. The answer? Paint your canes green! Another little task for a wet winter’s day.
And next time you visit a garden?
Take a notebook with you and jot down any ideas you see and like. Don’t rule anything out as not of appropriate size, you may find a way to scale it to your space. And maybe,….. just maybe you will see something that mirrors what you have in your garden. Then be ready for that warm glow that comes from within when you realise that you had thought of it first!
For further inspiration why not visit my Pinterest board for Container planting which you will find here
But before you go……….