Country & Garden: Bargain buys - How To Spruce Up Your Garden For Just pounds 20

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The Independent Culture
BY THE end of June, it gets hard to establish new things in the garden. Plants by then are big and thirsty. So splurge now, remembering one of the few established rules in gardening: there is always room for another pot.

Seven plants is plenty for a pot 15in or more (not less) across. Choose at least one kind of plant with bulky, interesting foliage and use that as a background. Variegated helichrysum is easy. Choose the small-leaved "Roundabout", which will not swamp its neighbours, and match it with something airier, such as the beautiful Lobelia richardsonii. Bushy at first, this soon begins to trail. You'll need a centrepiece for the pot. I've suggested Begonia fuchsioides, but it could well be a new daisy-flowered brachyscome.

Tomatoes are another imperative. Even (especially) in a concrete yard. Or a balcony. Or on an open stairwell.

You don't need earth. Get a growbag. Each bag will support three tomato plants. Most garden centres have standard varieties such as "Alicante", "Moneymaker" and "Ailsa Craig". "Shirley" is best in a greenhouse. To avoid the problems of staking, plant bush tomatoes such as "Tornado" or "Red Alert" - both excellent in flavour. Don't overwater.

Buy one plant or shrub to look forward to later in the season. I like the hardy Fuchsia magellanica "Versicolor". Only frost stops its profuse flowering, and it foliage is pink, green, grey and bronze. Before it flowers it makes a good backdrop for "Blue Parrot" tulips.

Buy string and twisty plastic ties to keep up with sweet peas, clematis, climbing roses, tomatoes and fan-trained fruit trees that will need tying in over the next couple of months.

1 grow bag (Fisons) pounds 1.76

3 tomato plants pounds 1.50

3 variegated helichrysum pounds 3.60

3 Lobelia richardsonii pounds 3.60

1 Begonia fuchsioides pounds 1.20

1 ball jute (Andersons) pounds 2.39

1 roll Polytwist

(Andersons) pounds 3.35

1 Fuchsia magellanica

`Versicolor' pounds 2.95

TOTAL pounds 20.35