Think pink!

After the glorious yellows of early spring, Graham Strong turns to vibrant shades of pink to show off his theatrical flair for planting his containers to welcome the warmer weather and lengthening days. Ranunculus asiaticus Accolade Pink are his signature plants with large, showy buttercup blooms.

You can buy them in pots already with buds and blooms that can be planted to give instant impact and plant the bulbs or plug plants in autumn. They come in intense shades of yellow, orange, red, white and pink and if you remove the faded and severely frost damaged blooms you will prolong the flowering period.

If you are growing them for cutting, raise them from seed sown in August and also October for flowers the following March to mid-April. Line them up in rows with 18-20cm between the plants. The tuberous plants can be lifted after flowering and pieces of root grown on in pots in a cold frame ready for planting outside or in containers in spring. It’s important that plants are not allowed to dry out between watering.

The plants thrive in dappled light and flowering pot plants are available from garden centres right through until June and are perfect for creating colourful containers from Easter until when the summer bedding plants take over.


The only restriction in making a glorious garden is your imagination and it’s easy to create exactly the mood you want with a carefully arranged collection of containers with plants and pots of different heights, shapes and sizes.

 


PICK A POT


Looks matter when it comes to choosing pots so pick a style and material that will enhance your garden theme – this could even mean recycling household objects.

Terracotta pots are ever popular as they mellow with age and are porous and drain well. They do however chip easily and can be damaged by frost. To overcome the need for frequent watering you can line them with old compost bags. Other ideal materials include plastic and glazed ceramic that are available in modern shapes and come in a range of colours – these are non-porous so it is vital that they have plenty of drainage holes. Wood is also versatile as it can be revitalised with a lick of paint and has the advantage of insulating plant roots from extreme weather.


COMPOST CHOICE


Compost is the key to success, so make sure you choose a good quality multi-purpose. For low-maintenance mix in water storing granules and controlled release fertiliser, to provide the plants with all they need for the whole growing season.

If growing permanent shrubs and topiary in pots, go for that are guaranteed as frost resistant and use nutrient-rich John Innes No 3 compost.


SUMMER CARE


A good watering three times a week will be far more beneficial than watering a little every day so make sure you leave ample space at the rim when planting. A saucer place inside the bottom of the pot will help retain moisture but you might prefer to invest in an automatic watering kit.

With ample feeding, watering and attention paid to deadheading, displays should flourish and flower right up until the frosts.


GRAHAM’S PLANTING SUGGESTIONS FOR INSTANT COLOUR IN MAY


Rich spring colours are provided by Ranunculus Accolade with dwarf forget-me-nots, violas and double primroses


For pink themed planting choose tulip ‘Kees Nelis’ with Ranunculus Accolade and an edging of double daisies


Foe sophisticated style, choose pink and green theme, using Ranunculus ‘Accolade’ with double daisies or Bellis perennis Tasso Mixed and Euphorbia x martini to create the look


Ranunculus Accolade and pretty pansies are a perfect combo



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