Pots with the Wow Factor

Evergreen plants provide colour and interest all year-round. They really come into their own in winter, when they bring much-needed colour to your garden during the dreary winter months to come. Did you know?Many smaller evergreens are perfect for permanent planting into pots.

1. Choose a centrepiece. Add a zing of citrus with the lemon-scented, lime-green, feathery conifer ‘Wilma’ or make a statement with the glossy red berries of Skimmia.
2. Surround your centrepiece with lower plants like Heathers, Gaultheria, Sedums, Dianthus or small ferns.
3. Mix in a few pretty bedding plants, like Pansies, Violas or Primroses.
4. Trail Hedera (Ivy) over the sides of the pot.
5. For an extra boost in spring pop in some small bulbs such as Snowdrops, Winter aconites, dwarf Narcissi, Crocus, Anemone blanda or Muscari.

1. Make sure that your pot drains freely, as wet soil, especially in winter, can kill plants. You may have to drill holes into the bottom of some plastic pots. Place crocks over the drainage holes and raise the pot up on to pot feet. On the other hand, remember to water your pots during dry spells.
2. John Innes composts are a heavier loam-based mix and are a good choice for plastic or top-heavy pots, and for permanent plantings of evergreen shrubs. Alternatively, choose Levington Rose, Tree & Shrub compost.
3. Use Ericaceous compost for acid-loving plants like Heathers, Rhododendrons and Azaleas, Pieris, Skimmia and Gaultheria.
4. Top dress with a slow-release fertiliser in spring.

Skimmias have a long season of interest. They have evergreen, aromatic foliage, pretty flowers in late spring and all through winter they have attractive heads of tightly-closed flower buds and/or cheerful colourful berries.
Choose Skimmias with care as most varieties have either male or female flowers.
• Male plants have flowers only and no berries.
• The beautiful berries form on female plants and only when there is a male plant nearby.
• Some Skimmia varieties have both male and female flowers on the same plant and produce both flowers and berries. These do not require a partner. They are referred to as ‘hermaphrodite’ or ‘self-fertile’.
Male flowers can have a beautiful scent whilst the females have a more delicate fragrance or no fragrance at all.
Skimmia look superb growing alone in pots or accompanied by small plants like trailing Ivy, Gaultheria or small ferns. They will thrive for several years in a pot provided they are fed with a slow-release ericaceous fertiliser in spring. They do, of course, look stunning in the border too. They grow best in a shady spot in Ericaceous or Rose, Tree & Shrub compost. They are ideal for a woodland border.