IF IT FEELS like your creative flair is petering out for the season there’s always something that can be brought out of the bag to sustain that inner gardener, writes TOM ATTWOOD.

Container gardening often conjures up all manner of images in my mind; it used to be the tired books on the gardening section shelf of the local charity shop, clad in yellowing covers depicting a dated collection of plants and plastic pots that haven’t ventured outside of the eighties. However, these are now thoughts of the past. I think of it as a dynamic, varied and eclectic approach to growing plants in alternative surroundings and celebrating their beauty. It’s an area I’m particularly keen on, having an ever growing number of pots and containers that I love to use and arrange around the nursery garden. The combinations and flexibility of these mini gardens means nothing need be static and you can create an ever changing repertoire in the space you have to work with.

The containers you choose can range from terracotta beauties to ex hot water tanks, the world really is your oyster. There are a few aspects to bear in mind, with the winter wet approaching think about drainage and provide plenty of it. If your container is suitable to drill, make sure you put plenty of holes in the bottom, new plastic planters if they have any holes are always lacking in number or size so add many more. Raise the planter (whatever the design) off the floor ever so slightly to aid drainage and prevent a film of water forming on the bottom. Lastly, provide a really well-drained mix of compost, garden soil and plenty of grit with stones thrown in the bottom of the container.

Favourite plant combinations of mine are the brightly coloured winter stems of the dogwoods such as Cornus Midwinter Fire with an entourage of hellebores such as Helleborus niger aka the Christmas Rose with tiny winter flowering violas squeezed into the gaps. Experiment with quirky combinations and don’t be afraid to shoe-horn the plants in.

Next week: pruning