How to Create a Container Garden (3 Preparation Tips)

How to Create a Container Garden

Plants can be grown in containers for several reasons, and you may need to know how to create a container garden.

However, there might be circumstances in which it is the only way to succeed.

For example, when the soil in your garden is poor or does not drain well, containers make it easier for plants to thrive.

Containers allow you to move them around to take full advantage of the sun’s rays.

Even if your yard is heavily shaded, it is possible to plant sun-loving plants in containers that can be moved into the sun.

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Easy Garden Crops Guide (Mediterranean)

Easy Garden Crops

We’re all hoping for another sun-drenched summer this year. But whatever the weather, we can always invoke a feeling of sunnier climes by using a few choice Mediterranean plants in the veg patch. The region’s food may be as varied as its landscapes, but there are specific unifying threads; good olive oil, garlic, and most importantly, an arsenal of intensely fragrant herbs. In this post, you’re going to learn precisely how to grow easy garden crops. This guide also includes lots of advice on how to have happy house plants. Let’s dive right in!

Top easy to grow vegetables, fruit and salad seeds and plants for beginners

  • Salad Leaves. Crunchy fresh leaves with a fantastic range of textures and flavours
  • Radishes. Spice up your salads with crunchy, peppery radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Spring onions
  • Broad beans
  • Runner beans
  • Onions and garlic
  • Rhubarb

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It’s hard to believe nowadays when it’s such a common garden crop. Still, rhubarb was once so valuable it cost more than exotic spices such as saffron and cinnamon and even drugs such as opium.

Originally a native of Siberia, it was the root, rather than the stems, of Chinese rhubarb that interested early British apothecaries, who used it to treat a variety of internal problems. My mother always said rhubarb “kept you regular”, perhaps not the most glowing recommendation.

I remember as a child being given a saucer of sugar and some stems of raw rhubarb to dip in it, rather like a grow-your-own sherbet dab, a definite improvement on the fig syrup she sometimes spooned into us.

From the 18th century, rhubarb began to be widely grown in Britain and to figure as a kitchen ingredient rather than just in the chemist. The most famous growing area is Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Triangle, where early rhubarb is grown in forcing sheds. But it’s straightforward to grow tasty stems in the garden.

Easy Herbs to Grow in Pots

There are five signature herbs of Mediterranean cooking; thyme, rosemary, oregano, bay and basil. It’s no surprise they all love sunshine, warmth and good drainage, but that’s not to say they won’t thrive in our more variable climate too. Of these five, only basil is frost tender (though admittedly bay is borderline).

Easy Garden Crops

Now’s the time to buy thyme, rosemary, oregano and bay plants. Pot them up in compost mixed with grit to ensure sharp drainage, or find them a home in a well-drained part of the garden (where the soil is light and gritty). Thyme can be grown between paving cracks; there’s nothing more evocative than the scent of crushed thyme underfoot. Sow basil in trays of multi-purpose compost under cover before gradually hardening them off and planting out in containers after the risk of frost has passed. Keep your herbs by the kitchen door for easy access.

Oregano (Origanum Vulgare)

Sometimes called wild marjoram, these pungent leaves are the perfect partner for tomato dishes and pizza. Look out for the sub-species Origanum vulgare hirtum (Greek oregano) for extra flavour. If you can’t find plants, they’re easy to grow from seed. Try Greek oregano seeds.

Bay Trees (Laurus Nobilis)

Buy the largest you can afford; older plants require less cosseting in winter. As a container-grown focal point, they’re hard to beat, especially clipped into a pyramid or standard (lollipop) shape. Choose a sunny, sheltered spot or grow in a container of soil-based compost such as John Innes No 2 with added grit for proper drainage and move it into a greenhouse over winter.

Easy Garden Crops

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)

Sow now under cover but wait until June before moving plants outside and don’t overwater. Choose your most sheltered sunny spot or grow under glass. Compact bush basil (Greek basil) has tiny leaves packing serious flavour. Try “Lettuce Leaf” with huge leaves for tearing into a salad or grinding into pesto.

Rosemary (R. Officinalis)

Pick your variety according to its size and shape, from the erect “Miss Jessopp’s Upright” to a more prostrate rosemary with arching growth, such as “Prostatus”. Check whether it is hardy or fully frost-hardy, depending on where you intend to plant it. Otherwise, they’re remarkably tolerant plants.

Easy Garden Crops

Lemon (Citrus)

A conservatory or frost-free greenhouse offers enough shelter to get these tender plants through the colder months, and they can live outside over the summer; just remember they don’t appreciate temperatures below 7 C (44 F). Even without fruit, their leaves have an intense lemony fragrance that you can harness in the kitchen by wrapping them around grilled fish.

Fig Tree (Ficus)

With their silvery limbs and large shapely leaves, these are beautiful plants. “Brown Turkey” is the most reliable for fruiting outdoors in southern England up to the Midlands. Still, you’ll need to offer it protection to be confident of a crop further north. Fan train them against a sunny wall or grow them as a bush in a pot.

Plum Tomatoes

Select a sheltered sunny spot on the patio, planting out after all risk of frost. Feed fortnightly once the first fruits appear, with tomato feed. Water little and often. Choose a Mediterranean variety; “San Marzano”.

Gardening is Officially Good for Mental Health

[bctt tweet=”Just one 30-minute session on the allotment improves self-esteem and general health” username=”dianescorpion”]. It was also found to reduce the effects of depression and fatigue, according to research from the UK Faculty of Public Health.

The new findings support research carried out in the UK in 2017, revealing that soil contains a natural antidepressant; a nonpathogenic bacteria, mirroring the effect on neurons that drugs such as Prozac provide.

It’s all encouraging news as allotment holders start to prepare their plot for the gardening year ahead.

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How to Have Happy Houseplants


All roots require oxygen to survive, so always use a pot with drainage. If you have a decorative container, either use a plastic pot inside it (over a layer of pebbles or clay balls designed for such purposes) or drill drainage holes into it using a drill suitable for ceramic tiles.

Aerated Soil

Make sure soil stays aerated. Compost in pots naturally compacts over time; repotting is an excellent way to keep it fluffy, but in the meantime you can aerate it by taking a chopstick (or similar) and poking holes carefully around the top of the pot, going down as far as you can without damaging the roots and wiggling it around.


Water well. Whatever the plant’s needs are, it is essential to add sufficient moisture that drains out through the bottom. It may then be necessary to ditch the water in the saucer, so the plant doesn’t sit in it.

Easy Garden Crops

Watering vs Revival

If you find you cannot keep up with watering a plant, then moving it away from the light source will slow down its growth and reduce the amount of water it needs. This is a good idea if you’re going away for a bit; move plants to slightly shadier conditions, and they’ll need less water and grow more slowly.


If a plant dries out, immerse its pot in a bucket of water. If the compost does not seem to be rewetting quickly enough, add a drop of washing-up liquid to break the surface tension between water and soil so the soil can absorb water quickly. Bubbles will appear as air is pushed out between the soil particles. Once the bubbles stop, take the plant out and allow it to drain.

Aquaponics 4 You

Create a Winter of Flavours

Grow herbs indoors for taste and goodness

My kitchen is never without fresh herbs growing on the windowsill, especially in winter when any of the ones growing in the garden have died back.

Hardy rosemary and sage will keep going throughout the winter (just outside the back door, most conveniently), but more tender varieties such as parsley, coriander, dill and basil need to be sown and grown indoors during the colder months.

Not only do fresh herbs make the kitchen look more attractive, but they also provide a shot of flavour and nutrients to keep cold-weather chills at bay. They can be sown indoors throughout the year, and by next spring, any that remain indoors can be hardened off and planted in the garden.

Easy Garden Crops

I also found a potted coriander on the “please rescue me” stand at our local garden centre. It was looking sad and was incredibly pot bound, but had potential, so I brought it home.

It was hard to remove from its plastic pot (squeezing it soon helped loosen the compost and free the plant). Still, once it was out, I teased out its congested roots, split the coriander in two and potted them up in multi-purpose compost.

Now I have two healthy, mature plants on my windowsill for the price of one and at a good discount; and just in time for supper!

Don’t forget to check out my sales page for recommended products at the best price!

Ideas 4 Landscaping Scam?


Ideas4Landscaping is a comprehensive collection of over 7200 landscaping designs, ideas and themes plus over 300 pages of gardening landscape guides. I have just bought the entire package, and this is my honest review of the product. Therefore, I will be covering what I like and dislike.

What is Ideas4Landscaping?

The product offers step by step blueprints and pictures of over 7250 different ideas for landscaping designs. The creator, Helen Whitfield, provides a simple, efficient and user-friendly online gallery for landscaping inspiration to design your dream landscape. Therefore, inside this massive database, you will find thousands of landscaping pictures in over 60 categories consisting of:

  • Backyard landscaping
  • Front yards
  • Garden landscaping
  • Patios
  • Decks
  • Walkways
  • Lawns

This massive collection of photos, ideas, and simple step-by-step details are designed to help homeowners make some progress with their plan to liven up their home with the perfect landscaping.

Landscaping Ideas

The Pros

Below are some of the points I was really impressed with, so read on.

  • A Huge Range of Designs to Choose From

This is a complete landscaping resource with detailed diagrams, complete with colour pictures and examples of many types of landscaping designs. It has everything you will need to get started in creating the perfect outdoor living experience for you and your family. It includes ideas for gardens, pools, decks, pathways, sheds, gazebos, hedges, driveways, waterfalls, ponds, patios and walkways.

There are multiple designs available for each type of landscape, so you have some variety to choose from.

  • Suitable for Beginners or Professionals

All the designs are ideal for beginners or professionals. I am somewhat new to landscaping, but I found most of the projects can be completed in one weekend.

  • Great Bonuses Included

The bonuses you get with this product are great. The bonus videos on landscaping are excellent for beginners who want an easy to follow video guide. There are also some great value books added in, including an organic vegetable farming guide which I have found very useful.

Book on Organic Vegetables
  • Full-Colour Pictures

I appreciated the number of full-colour pictures and diagrams which are included. I am a very visual person, so it is easier for me to follow a picture or diagram instead of reading paragraphs.

  • Money Back Policy

The 60-day money-back guarantee is always appreciated. I like seeing a merchant who stands behind their product 100%. It puts the consumer at ease, knowing that they are not going to lose a penny if they choose not to use the system.

Landscaping designs

What I Did Not Like

It is cool that I get instant download access but it also takes away the joy of a printed collection. The designs are all in a downloadable online gallery, which is excellent if your primary purpose is to stop using paper and save the trees. But it can be quite a hassle if you want to have your design sitting snugly next to you as you create your landscape.

However, you do have the option of printing everything out. That way, you do not have to go online to view it.

Do I Recommend It?


Ideas4Landscaping is a great collection anyway you look at it. It is suitable for beginners as well as seasoned landscapers alike. It offers excellent value for money, considering the one-time price you pay for such an extensive system.

Ideas4Landscaping gets two thumbs up from me!

Please note: I have just been told, Ideas4Landscaping is currently running a huge promotion. It usually sells for over $297: Helen has slashed that price down to $47, for now.

I am told the price is going back up within a matter of days. So if you are at all interested, now is the time to buy Ideas4Landscaping. Click on any of the links in my review. Happy landscaping!

Landscaping Ideas

Take a look at my sales page for recommended products at the best price!

Kitchen Wall Planters

Edible Kitchen Wall

Even a kitchen with no windowsills or spare surface space can have some fresh herbs, or even fruits and vegetables growing in it, thanks to innovations in vertical growing. It is a growing trend in horticulture, and can also be of financial benefit, saving you money on buying fresh produce. A vertical wall of food is practical, being easily at hand to use at its maximum freshness, as well as beautiful. And, if your kitchen doubles up as your dining area, what could be sweeter than eating in the fresh and fragrant atmosphere provided by the edible wall.

Edible Kitchen Wall

Choosing a Container

The container options for wall gardens basically fall into the following categories:

  • Fixed structures that mount to the wall and can hold various pots
  • Actual pots and troughs that can be attached directly to the wall
  • More flexible, modular systems of material planting pockets

The only thing to consider is to ensure that the wall behind will be sufficiently protected from any water or damp (usually the product you buy will include this protection) and that both the wall and the fixings are strong enough to take the weight of the thoroughly watered, fully grown plant (or plants) and the compost.

Edible Kitchen Wall

What to Plant

Leafy and trailing plants are best for covering containers and creating a green wall appearance, but if the containers are a feature, many culinary plants can be used.

Use annual and bushy herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, mint, lemon balm, coriander, and chamomile. Shrubby upright herbs, such as rosemary and sage, will eventually outgrow small containers and won’t regrow new leaves quickly, but young plants can be used for a short time.

Also, worth considering are dwarf and tumbling tomatoes (those bred for growing in windowsill pots and hanging baskets), such as “Tumbling Tom Red” and “Hundreds and Thousands”.

Other edible favourites to try are dwarf cucumbers, cucamelons (grape-sized melons that grow on an attractive, scrambling vine and taste like cucumbers), strawberries, salad leaves, nasturtiums, radishes and spring onions.

Fabric planting pouches can bring greenery and fresh produce to the smallest of spaces.

If you have bought a ready-made planter, follow the instructions on the product. If you wish to give it a more personal feel, use a little DIY skill to mount the pockets or planters with a wooden frame surround. This can make an even more decorative feature (a piece of living art).

Paint your frame or pots to make them look more attractive in your kitchen. You may wish to paint them with blackboard paint to add plant labels (useful for identifying plants when you are cooking).

Any multipurpose compost can be used. Crops can be grown directly from seed in the wall or purchased as young plants.

Edible Kitchen Wall


It is possible to add an automatic watering system, such as drip-line irrigation. This could be worth considering for large-scale wall plantings, as the small pockets of compost can dry out quickly. In most cases, however, hand watering is just as practical and cheaper.

Edible Kitchen


A staple of continental cookery. Sow seeds from spring to early summer for a regular supply. Seeds give the best range of varieties, but supermarket-bought potted plants can also be divided and replanted to provide a good crop. For pesto, grow “Genovese“, for Asian dishes “Siam Queen” and for ornamental plants “Purple Ruffles” and “African Blue“. For a more intense flavour and bushier plant, try Greek basil (O. minimum). Lemon basil (O. x citriodorum) is also an alternative worth trying.


A biennial but best treated as annual because the leaves become coarser with age. Easily grown from seed or from potted-on supermarket plants. Sow seed from spring through summer. Parsley will take a cooler and shadier spot than most other herbs.

Edible Kitchen


Thyme’s aromatic leaves have a wide range of uses. As with rosemary, regular snipping of the shoots will keep the plant compact, but it is best to replace every five years or so to prevent the lower stems from becoming woody and sprawling. When potting on, include some grit in the compost to aid drainage. Never allow to sit in wet compost. An alternative thyme plant to try growing is lemon thyme.


This is undoubtedly one of the most natural herbs to grow indoors and actually thrives when potted, becoming a vigorous plant in no time. The container should have adequate drainage, and a commercial potting mix, for healthy plant growth. The mint should be watered well and placed in indirect light, away from bright sunlight. It prefers a warmer temperature but can tolerate cooler nights. Mint enjoys humidity and will benefit from a thorough misting every few days, and should be turned regularly.

Edible Kitchen

Lemon Balm

This is an attractive plant to grow year round and has a fresh, lemony fragrance, with its leaves being ideal for adding to various drinks and cocktails. It will snowball, so start with a large container, which drains well, and add a good amount of potting soil. Lemon balm requires regular watering and enjoys a sunny position in the kitchen. Don’t allow flowers to form as they affect the flavour of the leaves, pinch them off on appearance.


Widely used in many cuisines. Easily grown from seed. For fresh leaves, use bolt-resistant varieties such as “Leisure“. Seeds are easily produced by any stressed plant; alternatively, use the variety “Moroccan“, which has been developed for good seed production. Water well and give seedlings plenty of space to avoid bolting. Sow successively from spring for a regular supply of leaves and a good crop of seeds by the autumn.

Edible Kitchen


Rosemary’s aromatic leaves have a wide range of uses. Regular snipping of the shoots for the kitchen will keep the plant compact, though they are best replaced every five years or so to prevent the lower stems from becoming woody and sprawling. “Miss Jessop’s Upright” is a slightly more upright and compact form. When potting on, include some grit in the compost to aid drainage. Never allow to sit in wet compost.

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A Windowsill for Cocktail Drink Garnishes

Kitchen windowsills or sunny spots on worktops and dining tables are the ideal places for edible houseplants, especially when growing crops that can be used as soon as they are picked. Culinary herbs are an obvious choice, but for something a little different, grow garnishes and flavourings for a home-grown cocktail party.

Windowsill Garden

The Botanical Collection

For gin cocktails, use herbs with flavours that will complement the botanicals of the spirit. Robust and punchy-flavoured plants, such as the Greek lemon basil (Ocimum basilicum) or lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus), lemon verbena (Aloysia citradora) and rose-scented pelargonium (Pelargonium “Attar of Roses” is an excellent choice), will all grow well on a sunny windowsill.

Windowsill Garden

The Pimm’s Garnish Collection

Windowsill Garden

If you have space, try planting these together in one large planter. Dwarf cucumber plants (varieties suitable for pots or labelled as “dwarf”) or cucamelons can climb up supports or trail over the edge. Borage will grow tall; pinch out the growing tips of young plants to create a bushy rather than tall plant. Alpine strawberries will cover the rest of the pot to complete the garnish.

Muddling Herbs

For a mojito or other long drink, mint is hard to beat. Virtually indestructible, it is easy to propagate by putting a stem in water until it sprouts roots. Even better, there are so many varieties, such as pineapple mint, strawberry mint and chocolate peppermint, not to mention the basic peppermint and spearmint.

Ginger leaves can be used like mint, and it also makes a great houseplant for a sunny, warm spot. It can be grown from an organic root, bought from a supermarket or food market; plant in a shallow tray until it sprouts, then pot on. See below for more detailed instructions.

Windowsill Garden

Ginger Roots

It is easy to grow ginger from “roots”, technically rhizomes bought from a supermarket. Use the plumpest, freshest-looking roots. Organic ones are preferable because commercial growth inhibitors are sometimes used on non-organic roots which can stop them sprouting once planted. You may find there are already some swollen buds visible.

Plant in a shallow pot in multipurpose compost, so that the root is about half submerged in the compost. Keep the compost moist and the container in a hot place (ideally 25 to 28 C). Shoots should sprout from the root. Once it is established in the shallow pot, it can be potted up to a larger one. In the autumn, cut back the old stems as they die.

Windowsill Garden

Planting a Windowsill Cocktail Garden

Windowsill Garden

All these collections will be fine planted in multipurpose compost. Plant either singly in an array of pots or all together in one window box or large trough planter. Prepare a small wigwam of canes or cucamelon to climb up and secure the plant to one of them; otherwise, let it trail over the side. Wayward stems can be snipped off.


Water as required, and feed throughout spring and summer. Regular picking will keep most herbs to size. When mint becomes pot-bound (i.e. the roots have filled the pot, leaving no room for them to expand), divide the plant into two or three new plants and pot up individually.

Ocimum basilicum

Windowsill Garden

Also known as sweet or common basil, this aromatic annual has bright green leaves, and tiny pink or white flowers swirled around a short spike. The flower heads should be pinched out to encourage the growth of the edible leaves. Not only ideal as an addition to cocktails, but it also has many culinary uses including pasta sauces and lasagna. It is easy to grow from seed and prefers warmth and light, well-drained soil. Its origins are unknown but is thought to be from Asia. Be aware, that it is not recommended that pregnant women or small children consume basil oil.

Thymus citriodorus

This is a lemon-scented evergreen plant, whose fragrance can be released by rubbing its leaves. It sits happily with other plants but requires some cutting back regularly to ensure it does not overwhelm them. During summer, it produces pretty lilac flowers and would be ideal on a sunny windowsill. The tiny leaves can be harvested regularly and either used straight away or dried, for future use. Not only perfect for adding a lemon essence to a cocktail, but it can also be added as a seasoning to soups, salads, sauces and stews, and is ideal with fish dishes.

Windowsill Garden

Aloysia citradora

Also known as lemon verbena, this aromatic shrub can be deciduous or evergreen, and produces tiny white or pale lilac flowers. It originates from South America and is widely found in Chile and Argentina. It is easy to grow and prefers well-drained soil, with its container placed in a sunny position on the windowsill, as it is sensitive to cold. Its pointed leaves bruise easily to release the lemon fragrance and are slightly rough to the touch. Other than as a welcome addition to a cocktail, lemon verbena can be used to make a refreshing herbal tea or with fish.

Windowsill Garden

Pelargonium “Attar of Roses”

Having strongly scented leaves, this shrub can be evergreen or perennial and has small clusters of pink flowers with five petals each. The rose fragranced foliage adds a nice to touch to summer cocktails, and the flowers, when cut, are long-lasting when displayed in a vase. The leaves also add a surprising floral edge to an apple and blackberry pie. The roots of the pelargonium can dry out very quickly, and need to be covered entirely with large volumes of compost, and regular watering is required. A high potash fertiliser can be useful during the summer months for growth.

Windowsill Garden

Share Your Story

What’s your favourite cocktail? Have you ever thought of growing your own garnishes? Do you have any other suggestions as what to plant in a windowsill cocktail garden? I hope you enjoyed my article, and it has given you some ideas. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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A Christmas Plant Display

A Christmas Display

House plants come into their own in winter, when they bring real cheer and life to indoors compared with an often drab and dreary world outside. By putting a few carefully selected seasonal plants together in a large container, a stylish and annual display can be created very quickly. How much glitter and tinsel to add is entirely down to personal taste! 

An Evergreen Arrangement

The dark green tones of conifers and ivy show that their leaves are full of chlorophyll, and they are used to relatively shady positions, making them ideal for an indoor planter in winter. They will happily last through two or three months, including over the Christmas period, but will appreciate being potted up and moved outside in spring to recuperate (bring them back in again the following winter to repeat this temporary display).

What to Plant

A Christmas Display

Try using miniature or young conifer trees; those of a classic Christmas-tree shape are commonly sold relatively cheaply in supermarkets and garden centres in winter as baby Christmas trees and use young ivy (Hedera helix) plants. 

Plant up a large bowl, putting one or more (odd numbers work best aesthetically) trees in the centre and filling around the edge and underneath with ivy plants.

An alternative would be to use a standard (lollipop-shaped) bay (Laurus nobilis), olive (Olea europaea) or rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) tree as the centrepiece, providing it can be displayed in a bright spot. Use multipurpose compost and water as required so that the compost does not dry out.

Using Forced Bulbs

A more colourful temporary display can be created using forced bulbs, though the timing can be quite varied, and it’s best not to rely on them being in bloom for a particular date.

A Christmas Display

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) and paperwhite daffodils (Narcissus) are the two most commonly forced bulbs for mid-winter and are widely available either as dry pre-treated bulbs or ready-potted and growing. Both will have been subjected to a cold spell, and bringing them into a warm house then tricks the bulb into thinking it is spring and time to flower. See below for more details about these specific bulbs. 

Pot up dry bulbs into a multipurpose compost; putting in as many as will fit in a single layer for the best display, as they will be split and replanted after flowering, and water as required.

Keep in the brightest, sunniest spot possible, although they can be moved once flowering to a better position. The warmer the room temperature, the faster the flowers will go over.

Facts About Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

Bulbs make rather good house plants, albeit temporary ones. This is a classic bulb, planted alone in a pot, and bought for Christmas displays. Usually red or white flowers, sometimes with several per stem. Leaves appear after the flower spike.

With its glossy leaves and stunning trumpet-shaped flowers, the amaryllis plant will bring brightness and colour to the dullest of winter days. And if planted at the correct time, will bloom at Christmas, a perfect addition to the celebratory table, alongside the roast turkey and mulled wine!

The plant originates from South Africa, and its correct name is Amaryllis belladonna, which is often grown outdoors in the UK, and it actually translates as a naked lady! The indoors variety is composed of over 90 species and is correctly termed as Hippeastrum, but most people call it amaryllis. The name hippeastrum is of Greek origin, translating as knight star, so called as the flower is said to resemble an ancient knight’s mediaeval weapon.

Amaryllis have actually been cultivated since the nineteenth century, and are mainly used as house plants during the winter, but can be left outside in the warmer summer months.

If buying from a garden centre or supermarket, the bulbs should be thoroughly checked to ensure they are firm and in good condition. Select the larger ones if possible, as they produce more flowers. Store in a cool, dry place until ready, otherwise, they may rot. If requiring them to be in bloom for Christmas, then the end of October is the ideal time to plant the bulbs. Once the flowers start to open, it is best to move the pot to a cooler position and water regularly, but sparingly for the best long-lasting results.

Facts About the Daffodil (Narcissus)

A Christmas Display

Specific daffodil varieties have been developed that are ideal for either forcing (such as “Paper White”) or small pots (“Tete-a-tete”). The name narcissus is the correct term for the daffodil family, and is Greek in origin, translating as numbness. This is a reference to the bulbs having a toxic substance, making them poisonous if consumed. In the past, they were actually used as a medicine to make people vomit, although this is not to be recommended! 

A Christmas Display

The appearance of the daffodil is very distinctive, with its long, narrow stem, the inner cup of the flower (known as the corona), and its three petals. It is usually yellow or white, with the central corona occasionally being a different colour, depending on the variety. They are typically found in the Mediterranean, but some species are native to Asia and China. They are a popular choice of decoration for the Chinese New Year. It is the national emblem of Wales and is traditionally worn on St David’s day. 

A Christmas Display

Narcissus plants are ideal for an easy to grow and maintain indoor Christmas display. The bulbs need to be planted in pots which allow for adequate drainage and can be grown from August to November, but the earlier, the better. Surprisingly, they can be grown just in a mix of water and pebbles, with no soil at all. 

The blooms will appear between October and April. Once they have ceased flowering, they need to be dead-headed, as this stimulates seed production within the bulb. The leaves should be left alone, as they release valuable nutrients into the soil, ensuring the successful growth of the daffodil the following year.

Which plants would you recommend for a Christmas display?

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Sensory Garden Plants

A Child's Sensory Garden

A stimulating sensory garden is undoubtedly an excellent way to teach children about plants. It can also be seen as an ingenious method of getting them interested in gardening as a whole. There are many types of sensory gardens, and a myriad of different ways of creating them, but overall, the more plants you use, the better. It is possible to create something which stimulates all five senses to maximum effect, the perfect sensory garden.

The idea behind a sensory garden is to create an exciting area, where there are not only visual, but textural plants and these can include sounds, tastes and fragrances.

A Child's Sensory Garden

A houseplant or two is an excellent addition to a child’s bedroom, but why not take it a step further and create a miniature garden? It’s an ideal project to do together, and giving a child (of almost any age) some autonomy over plant choice and decorations means that they will engage with it that much more.

The child’s age will, to some extent, influence the type of garden that is best to create; for example, a display full of prickly cacti is probably not the best choice for toddlers. Encourage children to look at the colours and feel the different shapes and textures of plants, and to take some responsibility for looking after them.

A Child's Sensory Garden

The following suggestions include some ideas for plant displays that will work well together and have mainly sensory properties. As long as the plants all have similar light, heat and watering requirements, it’s possible to let their creativity run riot.

Visual Appeal

Excitement and interest can be added to the sensory garden with the use of bright, fun colours, mainly red and yellow. These plants will stimulate the eyes, and foliage will also serve the same purpose, with interesting patterns and shapes. It is surprising as to actually how many shades of green can be found, along with more unusual colours such as silver, purple and gold. Green is also relaxing.

A Child's Sensory Garden

Visually appealing plants can also help with teaching children about colours and can be grouped together with labels for easy identification. Colourful accessories can be added to any display, such as little walls, hand-painted stones and steps, creating interest all year round.

Textural Appeal

Being able to touch the plants and explore their different textures will add a whole new dimension to the gardening experience. Try to aim for a mix of soft and spiky, and take the opportunity to explain about which plants should be avoided. Think about the thorny stems of roses or the stinging nettle leaves.

There are many sensory plants which have textures that are either feathery, soft or succulent, and children will enjoy comparing the different feel to each of them.

A Child's Sensory Garden

Carnivorous plants appeal to the vivid imaginations of children, and they will be fascinated by the likes of the African sundew, and its sticky leaves, designed to trap insects. Other textures to add, include little walkways made of bark or pebbles, or maybe a water feature. A simple dish of water among the plants simulates the addition of a pond, and even if it develops slimy algae, it is something new to discover.

Fragrance, Sound and Taste

Fragrant plants add a new dimension to a sensory garden, and using herbs for this purpose is simple, and they are easy to maintain. Popular choices which can be grown all year round include lemon balm, mint and rosemary. Plus, you have the bonus of using them for culinary creations.

Splashing water over the plants is a fun activity and good for them too, or just merely trickling the water over the soil, between the fingers is a sensory experience. Think about including plants whose leaves can be rustled or adding those that have seed pods which can be snapped open or shaken.

A Child's Sensory Garden

Edible plants, fruit and vegetables can quickly be grown indoors and can lead to a useful discussion as to what is safe to eat. Children will be astonished that you can actually eat nasturtium flowers, although they may not enjoy the slightly bitter taste. Salad vegetables are favourite and grow quickly enough to keep children interested and not get bored waiting for them to be ready to eat. Cucumbers, strawberries and tomatoes are easy to grow, and for the more adventurous, hot chillies are a great option and a definite conversation starter.

A Hot, Sandy Desert

The varied forms and low-maintenance nature of succulents make them ideal starter plants for children.

For the cowboy fans in your life, create a little desert landscape in a full, shallow container.

Plant miniature succulents, such as money tree (Crassula ovata), aloes (Aloe vera and other species) and living stones (Lithops). For older children, perhaps add some differently shaped cacti.

A Child's Sensory Garden

Leave some space between the plants or around the edge, and cover the compost surface with a layer of sand and /or glass pebbles or gravel, which will introduce different textures.

This display could be the basis for some imaginative playtime activity with desert animals, or for acting out a Hollywood western.

A Jungle of Textures

A broad, deep and stable pot housing some plants of different heights and textures can bring a jungle feel to the corner of a room.

Planting everything in one large pot, rather than having a collection of smaller ones, means it is less likely the container will get knocked over (intrepid explorers may want to hide in this new “jungle”).

The tree-like ornamental fig (Ficus) can look effective in a jungle display and will leave enough root space for other plants to grow. Ctenanthe work well with other leafy plants, such as the colourful croton (Codiaeum) or banner plant (Anthurium), with its weird waxy flowers.

A Child's Sensory Garden

Underplanting Fittonia, which has brightly veined leaves, completes the jungle layers. Enlist little hands to help mist and clean the leaves regularly.

Jungle plants are ideal for budding naturalists and explorers.

Which plants would you recommend as an essential addition to a child’s sensory garden?

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