Winter warming pot display using cordyline, heuchera and more
With colour in the garden now at a premium, Jenny Barnes creates a container that brings warm foliage. Words Jenny Barnes, photographs Richard Bloom
Head gardener Jenny Barnes offers this stunning autumnal planting pot design with buckets of colour to warm your winter blues.
How to achieve the look
Container and composition
I wanted to use a container that wouldn’t detract from the planting within. This simple, vintage galvanised bucket is perfect and with its built-in handle, is ideal to move around the garden to provide interest wherever it is needed. I’ve used Cordyline australis to provide strong structure to the display, and then softened the effect by surrounding it with Carex buchananii. The rich, sumptuous foliage of the heuchera and ajuga, arranged around the edges of the container, soften the harsh rim. The juncus adds another structural element in a contrasting fresh green. I fell in love with these little burgundy cyclamen and have threaded them through the pot to add a cheerful pop of colour.
Cultivation and care
This old, galvanised bucket has conveniently rusted through at the base, providing suitable drainage, but you may need to drill some holes using a metal drill bit. I also added a good layer of broken crocks to the bottom as it’s important the plants don’t sit in cold, wet soil throughout winter. To further ensure good drainage, I mixed a good handful of horticultural grit to the multi-purpose compost. Neither the cordyline nor the cyclamen that I’ve chosen are hardy, so I’ve placed this pot in a sheltered position near to the house and will move undercover if frost is forecast. Keep the container on the dry side throughout winter and remove any dead leaves as they appear.
Plants to use
From left to right
Cordyline ‘Red Star’
Evergreen, lance-shaped, bronze leaves. Good structure. 2.5m x 1.5m. RHS H3, USDA 9a-11†.
Juncus effusus f. spiralis
Evergreen perennial with unusual corkscrew-curled stems. 10cm x 50cm. RHS H7, USDA 4a-9b.
Heuchera ‘Wild Rose’ (Primo Series)
Clump-forming perennial with large, purple leaves. Pink flowers in summer. 10cm x 50cm. RHS H5, USDA 4a-9b.
Ajuga reptans ‘Atropurpurea’
Bronze-crinkled leaves. Deep-blue flowers in spring. 20cm x 30cm. RHS H7, USDA 3a-9b.
Dreamscape series – deep burgundy Heart-shaped leaves with silver veining. Fragrant burgundy flowers. 20cm x 20cm. RHS H1C, USDA 9a-11.
Carex buchananii ‘Red Rooster’
Mound-forming, evergreen sedge. 50cm x 50m. RHS H5, USDA 6a-9b.
Jenny Barnes is head gardener at Cottesbrooke Estate and is leading the way on new techniques of rose pruning and training.
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