Joe Swift has got some handy suggestions on transforming a patio or city garden in a jiffy
This is the perfect time of year to give the garden a quick makeover. As the garden is being seen more and more as an outdoor room - somewhere to relax, eat, play and generally enjoy, the patio or terrace area becomes the place to concentrate most of your efforts.
Whether it just needs freshening by filling a few planting gaps or something a bit more drastic it’s worth doing it now so it can be used to its maximum potential throughout the summer.
First thing to do is to hire a pressure washer and pressure wash any decks, paths or patios - they’ll come up like new and inspire you to do more.
As the fear of frosts is now over you can get in some bedding and more tender plants into the garden. Rather than the standard geraniums and busy lizzies, why not try something a bit different? With their brilliant flowers and exotic foliage the Canna lilies ( Canna x genaralis) will add a real tropical holiday feel to the garden and work as well in pots as they do in the ground.
Osteospermum ‘whirlygig’ (cape daisy) is one of the funkiest bedding plants around. The powder blue centres are perfectly set off by the white and mauve paddle-shaped petals. Again they can go pretty much anywhere as a filler and if you’re in a mild area or are really lucky they’ll come back again next year.
I’m a firm believer that fewer large plants in large pots look better than lots of small ones randomly dotted on a small terrace. With lots of water the bamboos such as the black bamboo (phyllostachys ‘nigra’) or the golden bamboo (phyllostachys ‘aurea’) do well in pots (add some supergel granules to stop them drying out). They will add real height without spreading too far and look fantastic in small city gardens.
Try bold coloured pots (golds, reds and burgundies) or a really, effective and simple trick is to paint existing terracotta pots with a masonry paint. Other big plants, which make an instant impact and also look great in small space are banana palms (musa basjoo)- perfect for the shady garden and Canary Island date plam (phoenix canariensis).