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Olive Pail Planter


Old olive pails were once used during the harvest to pick and wash the olives. They make attractive and practical garden planters, having the advantage of ready-made drainage holes. They're also large enough to accommodate several plants. In this display, the lime-green of the euphorbia works beautifully with the deep reds and purples of the aquilegia and astrantia, with a few simple cream anemones positioned at the front of the container to finish the look.

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You will need

Old olive-harvesting pail (bucket)

Drainage crocks

Sheet moss (available from garden centres and florists)

Potting mix

2 Anemone magellanica (windflower)

1 each of Aquilegia State Series ‘Louisiana’ and A. vulgaris var. stellate ‘Nora Barlow’ (columbine)

1 Astrantia major Gill Richardson Group (masterwort)

1 Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (Martin’s spurge)


1. Soak the rootballs of all the plants in water for about 20 minutes, or until they are wet through. Meanwhile, add a few drainage crocks to the base of the pail (bucket) and then line the base and sides with pieces of moss, to stop the potting mix from escaping through the holes. Add handfuls of potting mix as you go, to help keep the moss in place.

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2. Add more potting mix, pressing it down fi rmly and ensuring there are no air pockets. Press the potting mix against the sides of the pail to keep the moss in place, but make sure you leave enough room for the plants.

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3. Take the aquilegias from their plastic pots and plant them at the back of the pail.

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4. Next, remove the euphorbia from its plastic pot and plant it in front of the aquilegias.

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5. Decide on a suitable position for the astrantia and plant it in the pail next. Firm down all the plants, so they are sitting nice and upright.

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6. Take the anemones from their plastic pots and plant them at the front of the pail, positioning them to fi ll any gaps between the other flowers. Add a few handfuls of potting mix around the plants and fi rm down the surface.

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7. Give the planter a decorative top-dressing by adding more moss to the surface of the potting mix. Water the pail and let drain.

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This project is from Small Summer Gardens by Emma Hardy. To get more fab blog posts like this one - direct to your inbox - be sure to sign up to our mailing list here.

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