Flower-filled containers always look good but really come into their own during winter, when the garden is largely leafless and colourless. They provide instant colour, which improves as the young plants settle in.
Winter annuals that like the cold include pansies and violas. Petunias also do well, but frost may affect the flowers, so plant them in a sunny, sheltered position. Others are alyssum, wall flowers (Cheiranthus maritima), and fairy primulas.
Spreading pansies such as the Cool Wave series can fill containers and hanging baskets. A single plant spreads 60 to 70cm, while its upward growth of 15 to 20cm gives it a mounded appearance. Just three plants will provide a mound of colour. Try Berries ‘n cream and the pastel mix (golden yellow, blueberry swirl and white).
Pansy Matrix is an early flowering pansy with extra large flowers. It has is a huge colour range. Instead of “blotch” or “face”, try a variety with cat’s whiskers like Matrix “Morpheus”. The large flowers are carried on short stems, so they never get leggy.
Containers can be used on the ground, on a pedestal, on either side of a front door, on a deck or patio or arranged in groups on stairways and terraces. Combine winter veggies and flowers in a container.
Cabbage, Swiss chard and kale combine with smaller flowers such as violas or alyssum. Pretty pots can add to the overall effect and don’t have to be expensive. Buy cheap colourful buckets and punch holes in the bottom for drainage.