A silvery pot display using acacia and lavender
Cottesbrooke's head gardener Jenny Barnes creates a low maintenance pot display using Gladiolus murielae, Lavandula latifolia and Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’. Photographs Richard Bloom
This large, galvanised container sits in the corner of our potting shed and usually holds a collection of canes and poles. In its heyday, it was used as a bowser for carting water around the garden and would have had large wheels on either side.
I was keen to use an established Acacia baileyana in the planting somehow, and this was the only container large enough to house the giant rootball of a small tree. The silver-grey foliage is offset perfectly by the steely grey of the bowser.
How to achieve the look
Container and composition
The aged, galvanised bowser acts as a fantastic, practical container for larger plants. Its curved shape is particularly eye catching.
The pot is incredibly deep, which provides lots of space for rootballs and allows room for underplanting. I wanted to focus on colours and textures in this arrangement and keep the planting relatively simple.
I placed the tree in the centre of the pot and arranged the gladioli and the lavender around the base. Because the container is round and the planting has no front or back, it would be a great option for a site where it can be viewed from all sides. If the container is to be viewed from one side only, push the tree towards the back of the pot and focus the underplanting towards the front.
Cultivation and care
- Maintenance on this container is minimal, but it is vital that the tree is kept well watered during any dry periods.
- I wanted the lavender to cascade over the sides of the container to keep the look soft and so made sure to plant close to the edges of the bowser. It is a large plant in a relatively small space and will dry out quickly.
- When planting, I used John Innes No.3, which has been specifically developed for mature and established plants, and offers a nutrient-rich, stable medium that is great for growing containerised trees.
- Feed with a general multi-purpose plant feed once a week. You could also use a feed of organic nettle tea to promote foliage growth.
Left to right
Gladiolus murielae Elegant, cormous perennial with strappy leaves. Fragrant white flowers with a burgundy blotch at the end of summer. 10cm x 1m. AGM.
Lavandula latifolia A broadleaf, aromatic, evergreen shrub. Small, pale flower spikes in summer. 40cm x 40cm.
Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ Evergreen tree with small, feathery, grey-green foliage. New growth is plum coloured. 8m x 6m.
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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