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Add more colour to your garden - Sarah Turnbull from The Potting Shed shares her tips

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

Finalists for Wolverhampton’s 2017 annual WIRE Awards and 'Best Dressed Shop or Outlet’.

Tettenhall Gardening Club interviewed The Potting Shed's owner Sarah Turnbull.

How did your career within the garden industry get started?

My career started in 2002 when I took a weekend job at Dobbie's Garden Centre. In 2021 I moved to London where I studied an RHS certificate in Horticulture at Capel Manor College. Over the following eight years I worked in several garden centres. My business knowledge started growing when I was approached to help run a small, independent garden centre. Originally from Wolverhampton, I made the move back home and launched The Potting Shed which has been in business since 2016. The Potting Shed is a garden maintenance business offering one-off or regular visits to over 130 local customers.

What's a good tip for an 'easy fix' to inject new life into a garden?

Have a look at your beds. Are there any plants that could do with moving to a new position? If so a quick a lift and shuffle about can work wonders. And then maybe buying 2-3 new perennials to fill any gaps just to inject a bit of a change. Sometimes just buying a new pot can also help add a little extra.

What are your top 5 perennials for long lasting colour?

Penstemon - flowers June to October (and sometimes later). Comes in lots of bright colours or gorgeous pastels.

Daphne ‘eternal fragrance’ - (clue is in the name). This evergreen shrub can flower most of the year, as I have found in my own garden. It has gorgeous sweet smelling white flowers and is an easy to look after perennial for most gardens.

Erysimum ‘Boules Mauve’ - this wallflower, again in my experience can flower all year! I have seen booms in December. It’s clump forming, semi-evergreen and is a gorgeous purple. It just needs dead heading regularly to ensure new flowers are formed and the plant doesn’t become too leggy.

Verbena - flowers from early summer right up to the first frosts. You can get tall Verbena bonariensis and smaller lower growing varieties like Lollipop.

Erigeron karvinskianus - often seen growing from walls in coastal areas, this fantastic perennial can flower from May right up until the first frosts. It’s great ground cover and great for the front of an herbaceous border. These daisy flowers will add joy to any garden big or small.

What are your top colourful plants for a) groundcover b) damp places c) dry places?

Aubrieta - can be grown as ground cover or a trailing plant. It’s bright purple or red flowers come out early Spring and add that longed for colour in the garden.

Astilbe - loves damp conditions. Tall colourful blooms in white, pink or red during July and August.

Geranium ‘Johnsons blue’ (or similar varieties) - will flower all summer and survive in dry conditions. Just one more to add to this is Potentilla, a shrub that did extremely well in my garden in the drought last year. Comes with white, yellow or red flowers.

What's your favourite colour scheme in a garden and which plants help you to achieve this?

I love whites, blues, purples and deep pinks. I also love green. Odd to say, but a really lovely green leaf can help to set off other colours within a border:

  • Ferns

  • Fatsia japonica

  • Hydrangea peniculata

  • Campanula

  • Erigeron

  • Foxgloves

  • Salvia caradonna

  • Escallonia

  • Penstemon

  • Sedum

  • Nepeta (catmint)

  • Sweet peas

Just a few plants I have in my own garden.

Do you have some thrifty tips to share with us?

Probably not a great question as I make my living out of gardening! Only thing I could say is; never throw plants away. If a perennial has got too big it can often be lifted and divided and planted somewhere else in the garden where there’s a gap, or if you wanted something different maybe plant swapping with a like-minded friend! Do this instead of buying new plants all the time and you’ll save a fortune!

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