I’ve got a medium sized garden and have spent the past year trying to transform it from a concrete mess, to something I can sit and relax in. I’ll paint a picture of what I’m dealing with; there are two rectangular borders with good quality soil in and a large square area in the middle too. They’re surrounded by uneven patio areas and a concrete monster at the back. Unfortunately it’s not an easy task to just remove the mess at the back of the garden, so I’m working my way from the front until I can sort out the back.
The middle square patch of garden has been tormenting me for months! I really couldn’t decide what would suit this area, what I wanted and how to make it look good. However, I couldn’t help but pick up random plants and shrubs in every garden centre I visited. It also doesn’t help being signed up to T&M’s newsletters with their tempting deals every week. I’ve potted up the smaller plants and am growing them on a little bit more before deciding their final positions, and have planted out the rest in a very sporadic manner. You can clearly tell I’m an amateur gardener- but I am loving the adventure I’m on with it all!
After visiting Beth Chatto Gardens earlier in spring (highly recommend a visit – so beautiful), I came across a beautiful Acer in a large terracotta pot and fell in love. Light bulbs were going off in my head and I knew exactly how I wanted that square patch to look all of a sudden. I wanted a stunning Acer tree in the middle as a feature, and shrubs that would slowly take over the patch around it. Maybe a few stepping stones through the area would look good too.
I already had a stunning Hosta ‘Guacamole’, a selection of Heuchera ‘Patchwork Mixed’ and ‘Purple Palace’, a Dicentra Bleeding Heart and a Hydrangea ‘Love’ which I placed close to the borders and spread out to allow room for growth. Now was my mission to find my dream pot for the main feature; my beautiful Acer. Thompson & Morgan were kind enough to suggest the Starfish Acer for me. Quirky foliage and not too large for what I had in mind. I loved the illustration of the basket container, but didn’t think it would suit my garden vision. So I went off on my mission. Unfortunately the search took much longer than I expected, and my poor Acer was left in the pot it arrived in for much longer than I wanted it to. It was starting to look a little sorry for itself – after research I think it’s due to over watering and being in a non sheltered position. I’ve quickly moved it to a semi-sunny spot where it’s protected from winds. It turns out Acers suffer from scorching and doesn’t like sunny positions where it’s hit by blazing midday sun, or windy spots. I think the middle of my patch is ideal – gets the morning sun, and is sheltered from roaring winds by the nearby wall.
So, back to pot shopping, I have to discuss my ultimate bargain with you. Everyone knows large Teracotta pots are quite expensive; maybe £50-£70 in a local garden centre or chain garden shop. Well, I found one for £25 reduced in Katie’s Garden (in Suffolk) which was pretty much exactly what I had in mind. However, it had a large chunk taken out of it, so I managed to haggle it down to £15! So chuffed with myself.
Thompson & Morgan do a great selection of pots now too which I have only just discovered. These would have been a close second choice; the bee hive planters.
I got the pot back home and moved it, very slowly as I have tiny muscles, around the area to see where looked best before potting up my Acer in it. (Please ignore the back of the garden in the photographs! It really is hideous but by next year should have some pukka decking put in). I decided on the middle to make it the ultimate feature. I’ll see how the Acer gets on with the sunlight in that particular area, and will be happy to move it across towards the wall if needs be.
I’ve given some more thought to what other perennial plants would look good around the Acer, rather than just buying more on a whim like I have been doing, but if you have any suggestions at all please feel free to drop a comment below. I’d love some advice from less amateur gardeners!
With some stones in the bottom for extra drainage and some John Innes compost I’ve potted up the Acer successfully. I’ve also added, temporarily, some slate stepping stones around the pot to give myself a clearer idea of how the area will look once fully finished. I’ll see how my Acer gets on over the next month or two, and I’ll come back and let you know how it’s coming along in my garden and what other changes have been made!
Karen works in the Customer Care Department at Thompson and Morgan assisting customers in their orders and gardening queries. After growing up watching her dad and granddad in the garden, she is now keen to improve her own gardening knowledge and expertise. Karen likes to try out new and quirky ideas in the garden, and appreciates any tips or advice!