Plant Vintage and Craft-Lover Fiona Cumberpatch has a Small Town Garden in Lincolnshire That She’s Bringing Back to Life With Easy Projects and Planting ideas
On one gloomy afternoon back in November, I spent a few hours putting bulbs in pots and planting them in my small flower border. It was a bit fiddly but I’m finally reaping the rewards as my beautiful tulips are starting to flower. I love the slim orange ‘Ballerina’ ones mixed with purple ‘Queen of Night’, and I have a few sapphire blue grape hyacinths popping up alongside them, too. When I sit outside with my cuppa in the morning, I can smell their faintly sweet scent and I know that spring is finally here.
I usually have a few gaps where some bulbs haven’t come up maybe they rotted after all that rain in February, or perhaps they were dug up by a visiting cat – so then I cheat and buy some ready-grown ones to pop in and make my containers and beds look really full and lush. Filling the gaps and using every centimetre are what it’s all about in a small space, and now I’ve been in this garden for over a year, I know exactly which plants can help me to do this. Last year I discovered diascia in my favourite shades of dusky purple and hot orange.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for these plants at the garden centre at the end of April when the weather has started to warm up enough to plant them out. I’ll put them in hanging baskets, in small pots and large ones, and they’ll romp away from May to October, getting thicker and more colourful as the year passes. Whenever they start to fade, a quick trim with a pair of scissors keeps them going on and on.
Another brilliant gap-filler is Mexican fleabane (also called erigeron). Don’t be put off by the name: it looks absolutely stunning in pots as it tumbles over the edges with its miniature leaves and tiny daisy flowers. The best part is that you can use it to cover scrappy bits of soil around a patio or even use it to fill in cracks in paving. It grows from seed to flower in three months, and it’s easy to sprinkle these around in small crevices.
You can also buy ready-grown ones from the garden centre. I’m planning to use it everywhere this season, including prettying up the edges of the footpath at the back of my house. Once it’s in the ground, it doesn’t need much care, just the occasional drink and tidy up, but even if you do just plant and forget about it, you won’t be disappointed. Blossom is everywhere just now, and when I’m out and about visiting friends with some to spare, I bring a few snippets back home as I don’t have quite enough flowers in my own small plot to cut a posy yet. I put single stems in a stash of vintage glass bottles that I found at a tabletop sale, then group them together to create a display. It’s a tantalising reminder of all the garden gorgeousness that is yet to come!