OK, so you haven’t got much outdoor space. Or you rent and your nasty landlord won’t let you do anything with the garden. Or perhaps you are lucky enough to have a roof terrace with views to die for, but don’t know how to make the terrace look as jaw droppingly gorgeous as the inside of your home – which has been tastefully designed to within an inch of its B&B Italia/Ligne Rosset/Hans Wegner/ insert name of appropriately chic designer/retailer’s, life.
Well, you lucky people, I have the answer for you. And, better still, it’s simple. It’s containers – not the sort of containers that you ship your belongings in, and not those clever locking plastic containers that you keep food in which look like Tupperware, but aren’t. No, what I mean are pots, planters and window boxes.
Now, I’ve said that this is going to be simple, but you do have some decisions to make. First, do you have all your containers the same, or do you mix and match in a some sort of shabby chic, “Oh, those old things, I just threw them together and they work so beautifully” sort of way? The first way will be easier. The second way could end up in expensive failure, unless you source all the containers in a succession of trips to the reclamation yard and car boot sales. For me, this takes too long.
Let’s do it the easy way – we are going to have all our containers the same. But what material are they going to be made out of? Are they going to be metal – in which case do we go galvanised, stainless steel or powder coated? Perhaps we could try bronze or copper. If we don’t go metal, do we go wood? In which case, do we choose a natural hardwood such as Iroko, or stain and paint a softwood?
“Oh, this is getting tricky”, I hear you say. Stick with me, we haven’t finished. If not metal or wood, how about terracotta? It’s traditional, a safe bet, but make sure that those pots are frost proof! Whilst we are of a traditional bent, how about lead? Very classy for your Kensington doorstep, but probably a bit heavy for the roof terrace.
What you choose depends very much on your taste, the size of your wallet and the look of your house. However, a garden designer who has spent as much time as me researching these things should make things easier. They will be able to tell you whether to have drainage holes or not. They will tell you whether you can get a tree in a pot (you can, but it depends on the tree and the size of pot, obviously). And they will tell you of more imaginative things to plant in your containers than some red geraniums and some trailing lobelia. On that note, here’s one I made earlier…
Nigel is an award winning garden designer with studios in London and North Yorkshire. As founder of Medlar & Cob he uses modern, intelligent design to create timeless British gardens rooted in tradition. Take a look at his blog here here - medlarandcob.com/m. You can follow Nigel on twitter @medlarandcob. Read more posts by Nigel.