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Fiery Winter Pot

An easy way to brighten up the garden

Fiery Winter Pot

How gorgeous would this look next to the front door?

Just because winter is approaching, it doesn’t mean the garden needs to look lacklustre and brown.

Plant up this pot now and you’ll
have a gorgeous display come winter.

Use it to brighten up a dull spot in the garden. We have an expanse of unexciting grass in front of our house and so I am going to place it right in the centre to add drama.

 

Fiery Winter Pot

A few garden shrubs have a special display they reserve for winter – dogwood is a prime example, with bare stems that turn a blazing orange and red colour. Here they contrast spectacularly with delicate pure white snowdrops. The dogwood is a long-term occupant in this pot. Plant the snowdrops in September for a display in January-February.

Pot up the dogwood at the same time, or in spring. Included here is a fringe planting of black Mondo grass. Plant it at the same time as the other items.

Allow a couple of hours for the whole pot.

What you need

Plants

  • 20 or more snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis ‘S. Arnott’) bulbs.
  • Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ shrub.
  • Four to six plants of black Mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ ).

Equipment

  • Large terracotta pot
  • Soil-based potting compost.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Trowel.

1 Place the pot in the position it is to occupy – a container of this size, once full of compost and plants, will be too heavy to move easily.

2 Line the pot with broken crocks for drainage. Fill about half-full, then place the dogwood, in the container it comes in, into the pot to check for level. Adjust the compost as needed, then tip the dogwood out of its container, place it in the terracotta pot, slightly to the back rather than centrally, and firm in with more compost.

3 The snowdrops need to be about 10cm (4in) deep, so put these in next at the appropriate level, spreading them all round the dogwood in the centre of the container. Cover with compost.

4 Finally put in the black Mondo grasses, setting them all round the edges of the pot to form a fringe falling over the rim.

5 Top up the compost to within 4cm (1½in) of the rim of the pot and water in well.

Tip

The colour of the dogwood stems does best – and shows to best advantage – in full sun and can be brilliant when caught in early morning or late afternoon winter sunshine.

Notes

The snowdrops will need to be lifted and divided or replaced every three years or so.

For a notable spring and summer display in the container, choose Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ which has cream variegated leaves; the stems do not turn quite so bright a colour as the ‘Midwinter Fire’ variety, but are still an attractive dark red in winter.

If you are interested in the Ophiopogon, bear in mind that it goes under various different common names – black Mondo grass, black lilyturf and black dragon grass are just three.

Aftercare

The dogwood has attractive mid green leaves which turn orange-red before falling in autumn.

The brilliantly coloured stems only come into their own in late autumn and winter.

To ensure a good display, the stems must be hard pruned in spring – cut to within 7.5cm-10cm (3-4in) in March.

The black Mondo grass bears tiny spikes of pinkish white flowers in summer.

 

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