gardening; IF you're looking for colourful pots which will last a bit longer than a few shortlived pansies this winter, it's worth shopping around for evergreen and berried shrubs and grasses.
Garden centres are now awash with winter cherries (Solanum capsicastrum), bearing large bright-orange berries which look tempting but may not last too long outside unless you give them a really sheltered spot.
A better bet for a splash of colour in a contemporary pot would be Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion', a hardy shrub which produces bright-purple berries in winter, standing out among underplantings of ivy and winter-flowering heather. Some shrubs last well in pots and can then be successfully grown in the garden. Skimmia 'reevesiana', a hermaphrodite hermaphrodite (hərmăf`rədīt'), animal or plant that normally possesses both male and female reproductive systems, producing both eggs and sperm. producing vibrant red berries, looks wonderful in pots, as does its relative S japonica japonica (jəpŏn`əkə): see quince; camellia. 'Rubella', with its deep-red flower buds, which can be a vibrant focal point focal point
See focus. in any container.
If you transfer skimmia from their pots to your borders in spring and you want berries in future years, make sure you grow male and female plants together. 'Foremanii' is female and produces large bunches of berries, while 'Fragrans' is male and recommended for its floral fragrance.
Deep-coloured heucheras also remain pretty hardy over the winter, contrasting well with variegated euonymus euonymus (yŏn`ĭməs): see staff tree.
Any of about 170 species of shrubs, woody climbers, and small trees that make up the genus Euonymus (family and seasonal accent plants including cyclamen cyclamen: see primrose.
Any of about 15 species of flowering perennial herbaceous plants that make up the genus Cyclamen, in the primrose family (Primulaceae), native to the Middle East and southern and central Europe. from the Miracle Series, which will flower for weeks and tolerate mild frosts. Viburnum tinus Viburnum tinus (Laurustinus, Laurustinus Viburnum, or Laurestine) is a species of flowering plant in the genus Viburnum, native to the Mediterranean region and Macaronesia. is another reliable evergreen shrub which can comfortably fill a winter pot. Its buds reveal a dark pink tinge when they open, later lightening to pure white as the flowers open between late winter and early spring. When planting your winter pots, buy a container labelled 'frost-proof' rather than 'frost-resistant', which will withstand the British weather more effectively. Line the inside of the pot with plastic bubble-wrap to prevent compost from freezing and damaging the roots, but don't cover the drainage hole. Line the base of the pot with crocks or chunks of polystyrene to ease drainage. Half-fill the pot with compost. For permanent plantings of shrubs and perennials, use a soil-based compost such as John Innes John Innes can refer to:
Knock your plant out of its pot and position it in the container, holding it steady as you add more compost to secure it, and raise the level of compost to suit the other plants. Many people forget about grasses in the winter, but it's a time when they can come into their own in pots, adding huge architectural value and texture to the scene. And you can always transplant them into your garden when winter is over.
Sculptural grasses such as Carex comans 'Bronze form' can make a striking formal feature, while tall containers look great with sword-like phormiums and sedges, mixed with the cascading foliage of carex. They are extremely low maintenance and highly visual, particularly in winter when not much else can steal the limelight.
Alternatively, use a tall grass planted in a pot on its own, such as Stipa gigantea, a densely-tufted evergreen type that'll look great on a frosty morning and wave in the slightest breeze.
Of course, if you are a flower fan and want to make the most of winter blooms, you could plant up some hellebores in pots, which will provide a terrific display of foliage and flowers throughout late winter and early spring, in shades of white, cream, yellow, green, pink and purple through to almost black. They do particularly well in partially-shaded areas. There's really no reason that you can't have beautiful winter containers of plants which you can transfer to beds and borders at a later date to give you pleasure in years to come.
SURVIVES FROST: Cyclamen from the Miracle Series, left HARDY: Viburnum tinus Laurustinus, above, and heucheras, right BERRY NICE: Callicarpa Bodinieri 'Profusion' is a hardy shrub