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Remembering Granddad

Hi, I'm new here so hopefully I'm in the right place but I found out today that my late granddad left me some money in his will to buy something to remember him by. I've decided that I'd like a tree (or pair of trees) to live in pretty pots by my front door. I don't like flowers though, just normal plants (preferably green by I'm open to any colour unless it's bright yellow!) and I can't have anything that will grow too big as I don't have any outside space so I'll just pop it/them by my doorstep.

Having read through a few similar posts from other people, the theme that I'm seeing is that most of these plants can't deal with too much water... I live in Wales, UK where it rains A LOT. Our winters are pretty harsh and due to the positioning, my front door is pretty open to the elements and the strong, cold sea winds. I'm happy to prune or tend to any plants as necessary, I just want something that will live a long time to remember my granddad by for many years to come. Any help in picking a suitable plant would be much appreciated, thank you :) 


  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 10,313

    A lovely thought.
    The front of my house faces north and I have a covered porch, so it's quite gloomy.
    I have a bay (laurus nobilis) that's been growing there quite happily for 25+ years and never seen the sun.
    When it gets too big I just hack it back and it does well. And when I make a casserole I just have to open the front door to pick a couple of bay leaves.

    That may be an option for you. As you get a lot of rain, whatever you decide on, use a free draining compost and add grit to improve drainage. Most important of all - put the pots on feet, so they are raised off the ground by an inch or so. Waterlogged roots in winter will more than likely kill off just about anything.

    I'm sure more suggestions will be on the way.

    Best of luck

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Sorry to hear about your grandfather, nionthrie.

    You'll not need to worry about your plants in pots sitting in water as long as you do not put the pots into dishes. On the contrary, you will need to ensure regular, long watering all through the growing months and particularly in summer, or your plants won't last very long. So if you're on holiday you'll need to ensure cover. The strong cold winds are a bit more limiting 

    You don't say how much sun the area gets, but assuming average light, there are all kinds of beautiful evergreen plants to grow. A 'tree' is a bit of a euphemism here as you won't be able to grow a full-sized tree in a pot for very long, and I think what you want is standard shrubs. Holly is excellent for this, so is box. Something like  Ilex 'J.C. Van Tol' which is self-fertile and has beautiful berries all winter would be nice, and there are also variegated forms like Ilex 'Silver Queen'.

    An alternative in your conditions would be Prunus laurocerasus, which you can get grown into a lollipop shape. With all these plants, what you end up paying for is the work of the nurseryman in training the plant over several years. 

    You can't easily get them in a tree size, but other plants that would be good specimen plants in pots would include Hydrangea, Euonymus japonicus, Escallonia and Choisya.

    You'll need to use soil-based compost, which can be tricky to source. Look for the John Innes sort, as often garden centres will try to fob you off with whatever they have. Too light a compost, and the plant will not get its roots down or be able to get enough nourishment.

    There's a helpful RHS list here, too:

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