BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

BBC Homepage
BBC Northern Ireland

Gardeners' Corner
This week...
John Cushnie on...
Monthly Garden Tips

Gardening Events

The Allotment
Tweedie Garden
Seaside Garden
Kitchen Garden

Book Reviews
Flower Arranging
Terrific Trees

Live Chat
Meet the Team
Contact The Team


Contact Us

Summer 2002
John Cushnie On...

Year Round Colour For The Small Garden
16 June 2003

Small is beautiful. The limiting size of a garden is no excuse for it being uninteresting and dull. There are small trees suitable for pot culture.
Where size matters is recognising that plants do become larger. If they are incorrectly spaced they will become overcrowded spoiling each other in the process. Prunus Ama-no-gawa will form a beautiful, pale pink, spring flowering cherry tree up to 25 ft in height but after 20 years it may only have a spread of 3 ft.

Bulbs take up little space but are invaluable for splashes of colour. There is a succession of species which will provide colour and interest throughout the 12 months of the year. They can form a second
low carpet of colour under taller growing deciduous shrubs.

Choisya ternat For a spring display there are many shrubs to choose from but my favourites include Cytisus praecox (broom), Cheanomeles x superba (quince,cydonia ) and Ledum groenlandicum (Labrador tea plant). In
late spring the evergreen Mexican Orange blossoms are magnificent. Choisya ternata and C. ‘Aztec Pearl’ have fragrant white flowers and aromatic foliage. C. ‘Sundance’ produces bright yellow leaves. They will probably, in time, grow too large for a small garden but can be successfully grown in containers for many years. They also tolerate hard pruning to keep them in shape. Summer is the time for roses and there are varieties to suit the smallest of spaces. Don’t be fooled
by patio and ground cover roses. They can be very vigorous quickly covering a large area. Grown up a wall or timber framework they use little space but provide maximum colour in summer and autumn. The
James Stirlingsmaller hebes such as H. ‘Youngii’, H.ochracea ‘James Stirling’, and H. ‘Red Edge’look good all year round especially when flowering in summer.

Annuals come into their own from June until September and it is possible to have a riot of colour in a flower pot. Where space permits erect wire support for sweet pea. The more you cut the flowers the
more you get and they are beautifully scented.

Autumn brings a late flurry of herbaceous plants including the asters (Michaelmas daisies), Golden rod (Solidago) and Red hot pokers (Kniphofia). Dwarf Japanese maples (Acer palmatum and its varieties) outclass most other plants for autumn leaf colour and are happy in a large container. The tiny rowantree, Sorbus reducta, only grows to 2-3 ft with superb autumn leaf colour and red berries. Winter may leave you with less to pick from but what you get is magic. Christmas box,
Jasminum nudiflorumSarcococca confusa is small and evergreen with tiny white flowers and a fragrance to equal the most expensive perfume. Jasminum nudiflorum with its bright yellow flowers and dark green stems is happy to climb up a support.

Gaultheria mucronata is evergreen with tiny leaves and large clusters of berries ranging from white through pink to deepest red and purple.
Small garden -you have maximum colour and minimum work!

Back to John's index page


Image of a wheelbarrow

Ideas or Suggestions?

Back to top


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy