I love container gardening because I can create gardens in the smallest of spaces and I can easily change my displays as often as I want. I first posted about my little container garden at the front of my house in May, when I had a really colourful display of spring bulbs in containers around my front door.
Inspired by the planting schemes and container gardens I saw during my holiday in Provence, I decided to try and recreate some of this at home. So, I had a change around and purchased some new plants.
The most prominent plants I saw in Provence were agapanthus, lavender, oleander, pelargonium, cactus, cypress trees, roses and bougainvillea. I’ve used these as inspiration and picked a selection of plants that would remind me of my holiday and also work in my sunny front garden.
Inspired by the simple planter I saw in Mouans-Sartoux these classic red pelargoniums are perfect for my window boxes as they prefer full sun and don’t need a lot of water, making them very easy to maintain. The contrast of the bright red colour lifts the pastels of the plants on the ground below and they will flower into the autumn when I’ll overwinter them. To do this I prune back the flower heads, bring them into my house and leave them on a windowsill. I find this works a lot better than covering them with fleece in my greenhouse, which is what I do with some of my other plants over the winter.
Next to my front door (left to right above) I have agapanthus, echinacea, coreopsis, verbena, phlox and my existing pot of succulents. I also chose a little box tree and clipped it into a tall skinny shape to remind me of the striking tall cypress trees that defined the Provençal landscape.
Agapanthus were everywhere in Provence, in containers, in borders and even in central reservations along the roads. Roger Brook from the no dig gardener blog posted this brilliant guide for growing and propagating agapanthus. Since my pot is small and young I’ll be wrapping it in fleece over winter and storing it in my greenhouse.
I’ve never had any success with echinacea purpurea before but I’m determined to have another go because I love how they look. This is another perennial that likes a lot of sunshine so it’s perfect for my sunny location. The snails seem to enjoy a nibble so I’m having to use organic slug killer to protect them.
Coreopsis rosea – American Dream: this hardy perennial is like a dense matt of tiny little pink daisies with wispy green leaves that the bees and hoverflies love.
Alongside the coreopsis this verbena rigida forms a drift of colour and really reminds me of Provence. It too loves full sun and is a half hardy perennial, so it will live wrapped up in my greenhouse over winter too.
There’s tons of phlox varieties out there and I think they’re really underrated. Perhaps more cottage garden than Provence but it still works well with the pinks & purples that remind me so much of my holiday.
On the other side of the doorway I chose a simple pot of parsley to have handy for cooking. A pelargonium that I overwintered last year, a cuphea, my existing sempervivum (houseleek), lavender and I already had the pyracantha and the rose.
The little evergreen cuphea (below) is outstanding and will continue to flower into the autumn along with the lavender and rose, which provide lovely scent. All these plants are great for wildlife and it’s been wonderful having bees and butterflies right outside my home.
I loved mixing my new purchases in with some of my existing container plants and although I really don’t feel I recreated the stunningly chic displays I saw in Provence, my summer display has brought me a lot of pleasure and has reminded me of my holiday. Next year I want to continue the theme but I really want to add an oleander and an olive tree!
As we move further into September the lavender will remain flowering for a few more weeks, as will the pelargoniums and the cuphea but the others will fade. So I’m already starting to think about my autumn/winter planting schemes and which bulbs I’ll choose for my spring display.
Do you enjoy container gardening and have you started thinking about which plants you’ll chose for autumn and winter?