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Articles
Dans le Jardin - Nick Warner takes a look at growing Plants in Pots.
First published in the June/July 2003 issue of Impressions Magazine.

When we made the decision to move to France, one of my first thoughts was whether we could bring all 300+ of my container grown plants with us. True, I could have replaced them all once here, but when you have nurtured them from seed to mature plants through many seasons it's like they're almost part of the family. In the end I decided to bring them all with me, shipping the majority of them in the same lorry as our furniture. All the plants were watered well on the morning of the move and packed into open top boxes that were placed near the top of the lorry which had a semi-transparent roof. Every one of them survived the four day journey.

Growing plants in containers in this part of France is not really that different to the UK. Generally the growing conditions here are ideal. The season starts earlier and finishes later than the UK - be prepared for plants to start coming to life up to a month ahead of the UK. Note, however, that although the weather is much warmer on average than the UK it can also be more extreme.

Probably the biggest risk for container grown plants is during the summer. Terracotta and clay pots will dry out very quickly in hot weather due to their porous nature. It is therefore very important to water the plants frequently - every day, if it's really hot. Don't forget to feed the plants once a fortnight during the growing season to keep them strong and healthy. A lot of nutrients are washed out of the soil with frequent watering.

For plants in larger terracotta containers one method that we use to help slow down the water loss is to line the inside of the pot with clear polythene sheeting. Don't use black polythene, however, as this will only help to speed up the water loss.
Plants like to be grouped together, but remember to leave some space around them in humid weather so that air can circulate. This will help to reduce the risk of diseases such as Mildew.

The location of a plant can be essential to its survival, especially when placing it in a south facing position. Because of all the stone (or brick) work a south facing patio or balcony can easily generate temperatures 10 - 20 degrees above that of the rest of the garden. More than enough to bake a plant to death without frequent attention.

Growing in pots has many advantages: you can move them around the garden to suit the conditions; give pride of place to plants that are just reaching their peak; and you can take them with you if you move house.
It’s true that growing plants in containers takes a bit more effort, but the results can be really rewarding.


Doigts Verts - Doug Silk provides a few jobs for the garden for February and March.
First published in February/March 2004 edition of Impressions Magazine.
One job that can be done throughout this period is to hoe to remove all weeds thus preventing them from seeding and taking nutrients from other plants.

February
Shrubs and Flowers - From this month you can sow hardy annuals outside under cold frames for early summer flowers.
Prune any mature shrubs that have had winter flowers in order to help promote vigorous growth later in the year. A rough guide is to remove around one third of the old wood in order to make way for fresh new growth in the spring.

Hedges - Hedges should be fed, any weeds removed from around the base and a good mulch applied. Overgrown deciduous hedges can be cut back towards the end of the month.

March
Shrubs and Flowers - After flowering, deadhead any Daffodils and apply fertilizer. They should then be left undisturbed for at least six weeks to help ensure a good display of flowers next year.
Young and newly planted shrubs should be top-dressed with well-rotted manure or compost.

Trees and Hedges - During March you can plant all types of trees and hedges, except for broad-leaved evergreens.

Lawns - Now is the time to look at re-seeding any worn areas. Also spring fertilizer can be applied and if required, a selective weed killer.

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