spring/summer 2012 www.dobbies.com 19GARDEN INSPIRATIONColour hitCreate impact, and a big splash of colour, by grouping several pots together - this looks far more impressive than a single container dotted here and there. Fill the pots with summer bedding plants in complementary shades for a unified, coordinated look.Barbecue know-howTreat your friends to a traditional, tasty barbecue. Wait for charcoal to turn grey before cooking, and add things little and often for a continuous supply of food. Create an impromptu barbecue by placing charcoal in a large terracotta pot and topping it with a shelf from your oven.
20 www.dobbies.com spring/summer 2012ISTOCK.COMPAVING is a great choice for a patio surface. There are all sorts of types available, from traditional natural materials like York stone, to cheaper concrete look-a-likes and terracotta tiles. Install paving on a hard core, topped with a 5:1 mix of sharp sand and cement. Make sure your work is even with a spirit level as you progress. Keep your paving in good condition by cleaning it with a jet-wash every spring.DECKING is quick to install and useful for covering areas of messy concrete or old patio that look scruffy. It's cheaper than paving, although takes a bit of work to maintain - you should treat it with a preservative every year and keep it clean to stop it becoming slippy. It's easy to make a feature with decking, by raising it off the ground and adding a balustrade and a few steps. Always make sure timber is FSC approved. Material choicesEasy wateringPatio pots need lots of water to keep them in tip-top shape. Remove the stress of the job by installing a simple irrigation system connected to an outdoor tap - you can direct the supply to all your containers and even introduce a timer for automatic watering. Containers made easyFill containers with striking, evergreen plants for a display to last the entire year. Cordylines (above), phormiums and topiary box shapes are all ideal and have permanent staying power. Use a soil-based compost for these long-lived plants and feed and water them regularly to keep them in good condition. Think verticalDisguise ugly walls and fences with clever plant solutions. Consider a 'green wall' approach, which uses year-round herbaceous plants for a continuous display, or cover the space with lots of hanging baskets filled with colourful summer bedding. Either will bring about a transformation.Add slow-release fertiliser and water-retaining crystals to containers - this will help the display look good year-roundTop tipGARDEN INSPIRATION