Garden Blog - Blog Post

Look at Those Front Trugs


Several posts ago I wrote about how I quickly and rather cheaply added instant impact to the front garden by planting up six trugs with clematis and some bedding. As an alternative to hanging baskets, these six large planters can take a wider range of plants, are less maintenance and create a big statement – or they’re supposed to.

Clematis Trugs

These trugs initially looked bare and completely out of place. I felt embarrassed that these imposing trugs with their tall bamboo wigwams shouting “Oi! Look at me!” only had small, spindly clematis to show off. It wasn’t the effect I was going for. I couldn’t blame the clematis as it was only their first year and they were just getting established. It would take a few more seasons before they filled out. In order to shade the clematis roots, I added some bedding plants to flesh out the show, they were added to the trugs almost as an afterthought.

That bedding, composed simply of trailing lobelias and trailing fuchsias in various colours, turned out to be a very good idea indeed.

Clematis Trugs with Bedding

With plenty of food, water and sunshine the bedding has gone rampant and now in midsummer, they are a wonderful welcome when pulling into the drive. What used to be an embarrassment has turned into one of the best displays in the garden. I couldn’t imagine the house without them and to think I was on the verge of carting the trugs round to the back, hiding them in shame.

All six trugs are overflowing with fuchsia and lobelia, almost enveloping the black trugs they are planted in. They’ve burst over the sides and are beginning to trail onto the gravel. I still find it hard to believe that this is the result of planting 3cm plug plants, six in each trug just two months ago.

Bedding in the Front Trugs

What of the clematis? Well, that’s not such a success story. All the clematis did flower, but they’ve not had an easy time since. Despite the mass of bedding coverage, the exposed position in hot sun meant the trugs still heat up and the clematis roots subsequently suffered, causing the plant above to either die back, brown or wilt, in part or in whole.

One idea I’ve had is to cover the sides of the trugs in tin foil to reflect the heat of the sun, that and keeping the trugs well watered and well fed may be enough to keep the clematis happy. For next season, I shall be doing a little soil replacement and adding well rotted manure into the mix. By then, the clematis should also be better established and will hopefully grow stronger, that way the attention will really be split between the overflowing bedding and the clematis towering above it.

For now though, while I wait, I’m still very happy with my cheap frontage upgrade. Long live clearance clematis and bargain basement bedding!

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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Jean 01/08/2014 - 2:45 am

What a clever idea! One of my goals for my new front garden is to learn how to use containers more effectively. Thanks for the inspiration.

Sunil 04/08/2014 - 10:22 pm

Hi Jean, an irrigation system is the next thing to invest in with these trugs, I’ve find out at they require a lot of watering. I would very much recommend you have a look at them too if you’re going to have any number of pots. It might cost money but it’s peace of mind and more efficient and effective watering, and better, healthier plants for it.

casa mariposa 01/08/2014 - 3:52 pm

This is so fab! I’m so glad it worked out well. As for the tin foil – bravo! I’ve found foil an amazing garden tool. Few plants do well in reflected heat. I love how lush those little annuals are.

Maybe upgrading the trugs to ceramic pots would help. They keep the roots better insulated. I used to fry my annuals every summer in cheap plastic pots. I finally bought a soil thermometer to test my theory that the soil in the ceramic pots was cooler than those in plastic pots. It wasn’t. But it changed temperatures less rapidly and the plants in ceramic/glazed clay weren’t shocked by a sudden climb in temps every day. The soil also stayed much moister.

Sunil 04/08/2014 - 10:25 pm

Hi Tammy, I’ve been on the lookout for terracotta pots to put these trugs into. The only trouble is that I would need six and just buying one terracotta pot of a large enough size would put a considerable dent in the wallet so in the meantime, I need to look at alternatives such as foil. The bed ding does look good I admit, I can see myself repeating this again next year.

Alain 02/08/2014 - 2:35 am

That was an excellent idea Sunil. It worked beautifullly, creating a real impact.

Sunil 04/08/2014 - 10:28 pm

Hello Alain, once the bedding got going it created a big impact, it’s a shame the clematis rather fizzled this year. I think I need more food in the soil, better watering (i.e. using an irrigation system) and protection of the trugs from sun and they should perform a lot better. I will be repeating this next year with these additions so we’ll see how it goes. For the first year, it’s not looking too bad!


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