Combining plants in containers to make a display that looks good all year round is something of an art. It's fairly easy to create a fabulous display in summer: simply choose from the vibrantly colourful bedding plants available in our garden centre from late spring and have the best garden in Donaghadee, Bushmills, Ballymena and Ballyclare.
But what if you want colour from the same container in March, as well as autumn fireworks and some winter colour too?
Here are some great combinations of plants you can find in our garden centre to put together in a roomy container, giving you a potted display that looks good from January to December.
Container 1: Green and gold for shade
Shopping list: Hosta 'Gold Standard' (or any green and gold variegated variety), Carex oshimensis 'Evergold', Saxifraga x urbium.
Central to the display in this container is a broad-leaved hosta with striking golden-edged leaves; filigree leaves of evergreen Carex make a contrasting fountain of gold. Underneath the small, frilly leaves of London Pride are topped with summer flowers.
Container 2: Red, red, red
Shopping list: Cordyline australis 'Torbay Red', scarlet pelargoniums, Oxalis triangularis, Tulipa praestans.
The evergreen purple spears of Cordyline erupt like a firework from a sea of scarlet in summer, with the deepest purple, clover-like leaves and pink flowers of the oxalis at their feet. Early-flowering tulips start the flaming reds from spring onwards.
Container 3: Fabulous foliage
Shopping list: Cryptomeria 'Compressa', Heuchera 'Amber Waves', Heuchera 'Plum Pudding', bronze chrysanthemum.
This container relies on colourful, evergreen heuchera leaves for its impact, though the star of the show in autumn is the low-growing conifer, Cryptomeria, which turns fabulous bronze. Choose a red-bronze variety of chrysanthemum to complement the other colours.
Container 4: Black and white
Shopping list: Phormium 'Platts Black', Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens', Galanthus nivalis, Tulipa 'Purissima', white chrysanthemum.
Find a super-modern container in matt black for this fabulous combination of white snowdrops and tulips against evergreen near-black foliage of New Zealand flax and black, grass-like lilyturf. A pure white chrysanthemum keeps the contrasts going into autumn.
Please ask the staff in our garden centre in Donaghadee, Bushmills, Ballymena and Ballyclare for more information and advice about planting containers that look good all year.