Container Hort.

Anagallis monelli ‘Skylover’ is a good plant with which to introduce blue into summer containers, making a change from the hanging basket and window box standard Lobelia in its upright and trailing forms. The intensely blue star shaped flowers of Anagallis repeat flower for months and the dense foliage is almost succulent in its habit. The common name of this plant is Blue Pimpernel but there was nothing elusive about the consistent display it provided last summer when I used it in the three troughs on the south facing bay window of the house.

Less successful was my attempt to plant it with white ivy-leaved Pelargonium which struggled after a month or so. I believe the combination would have worked better in larger containers. For next year, I have my eye on the window box version of the dark grey recycled plastic containers I mentioned in my blog post dated 26 October 2018, ‘Weeds Roots & Leaves is out front’. I feel the deep classic boxes will bring a contemporary accent to the front garden as well as providing a much larger planting area for a more adventurous summer scheme. A small lavender in the central trough was also overwhelmed by the vigour of the newcomer. Despite this, I shall certainly plant Anagallis again, because apart from its beautiful colour it required little or no dead-heading, maintenance consisting of a daily watering and a weekly dose of tomato food. I bought the six plants as small plugs from Suttons. They arrived in early April and I potted them on into larger pots for a few weeks before planting out in May.

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Anagallis monelli ‘Skylover’ with white Pelargonium. Detail from window troughs summer 2018.

This winter I have planted the bay window troughs with a mixed scheme of large flowered ‘Cadbury’s purple’ pansies, Bird’s Foot ivy (Hedera saggitifolia), Golden Japanese Rush (Acorus gramineus Ogon) and White Sea Campion (Silene Druett’s Variegated). The slim leaves of blue Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) are already emerging, a tantalising preview of the further layer of colour to come in early spring.

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Winter trough detail November 2018

I have already decided that another element of the scheme next summer for the terracotta pots on the patio in the sunniest corner of the garden and in a pot beside the front door will be a particular shade of ivy-leaved Pelargonium. Of the many exquisite garden images in the Royal Academy’s exhibition ‘Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse’ in 2015, I found one of the simplest the most memorable. Highlighted against a dark green background, a swag decorated terracotta pot stands atop a plinth at the foot of a stone staircase, warm toned salmon pink pelargoniums spilling down beside the steps. The painter is Spanish impressionist Joaquin Sorolla, in whose courtyard garden in Madrid the canvas was painted. I was thrilled last week to read, thanks to a Madrid based friend’s Facebook post, that the National Gallery is to stage an exhibition of Sorolla’s work from 18 March to 7 July next year, ‘Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light’. Whether this canvas will be included I do not know, but I do hope that at least one of the 60 plus paintings in the show will feature his beautiful garden.

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‘Geraniums’ by Joaquin Sorolla 1918-19

Salmon pink geraniums (Pelargonium) also take centre stage in a book I read as a child, ‘The Little White Horse’ by Elizabeth Goudge. Why I have recalled these particular plants so vividly for all these years I cannot fathom, but the description of a West Country garden in which these flowers proliferated, still resonates. Another plant from the book will also feature in my container planting next summer. A principal character in the magical story is Miss Heliotrope and scented purple heliotrope (Heliotropium) will act as a perfect foil for the brighter coloured geraniums.

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One thought on “Container Hort.

  1. I believe that ivy geraniums (pelargoniums) were some of the more popular perennials for the window boxes of Venice, not only because they were aromatic enough to discourage mosquitoes, but also because they cascaded downward rather than obscure the windows. Trailing rosemary and nasturtiums did the same.

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