With Easter just around the corner, March is the month when spring blows in and fills us full of optimism for new projects. It's the time when many gardeners come back to life and one of the first jobs to be tackled are pots around the house, poshing them up for the new season.

We've lots of bedding plants coming into the garden centre all the time now but it's also sometimes fun to think out of the norm, think of quirky pots with rather strange plantings. Use form, shape and colour. Here are some ideas to inspire.

Footwear makes great containers; try planting up a pair of bright rubber clogs or suspend a line of wellingtons on your fenceline, even that old walking boot can be given a lift with a plant. If you want elegant, how about a stiletto heeled shoe planted with a single prickly cactus? Boots and shoes can last for ages like this but part of the fun of it all, is that some of your quirky containers will not be long-lasting. They'll rot away slowly before you have time to get bored of them and then you can stun your friends with some other brilliant idea.

Old chests of drawers overflowing with plants look great; try filling them, too, with lettuce, mini tumbling cherry tomatoes, hot peppers and chillies to form a portable veg garden. Or drawers full of leafy herbs look wonderful too. A left over section of guttering, fixed to the wall, makes a useful planting space too especially if you've no garden but lust for fresh herbs. Single chairs, or pairs of them, have loads of possibilities.

Search around the bins where broken/tired furniture is often dumped or check out the charity shop. A few euro will often buy you something that will give you and your friends immense pleasure.

Old pots, pans, colanders and kettles are commonly seen as different containers. Try stacking discarded strawberry boxes with little succulents. I also love the idea of a wall of old tyres. Paint each tyre a different bold colour, stack them leaving spaces for plants to tumble and erupt and you'll have a wall not easily forgotten.
Think 'out of the box' for the most fun of all – a pink padded bra stuffed with rosy petunias, the bigger the cup size the better! And use all those old straw hats that you have lying around, simply lining them with a heavy duty plastic bag. They won't last forever but they'll brighten up several weeks, make you smile and it's better than them lying around collecting dust!

Don't be frightened to use colour, it will often lift an idea from good to fantastic. Link it in to other colour schemes around your house to tie the whole scheme together. A line of old tin cans hanging on a white wall – paint them all a forget-me-not blue or, if you think the blue/white theme is overworked, try painting each one a distinctive and brilliant colour or shades of lilac, perhaps. Use plants to tone or contrast – the wilder the better. Remember that many of these ideas are ephemeral so you won't have time to tire of them.

Once you start thinking quirky, the ideas will flow until your garden and patios overflow!

Lorraine Cavanagh has lived in Spain for 26 years. A landscape gardener and writer, she's always happy to give advice. Call and see her at ViverosFlorena, 2km from Cómpeta, (Malaga), down the Sayalonga Road, or 15km up from the coastal motorway – have a free coffee or herbal tea in their tea-rooms.

Her book Lorraine Cavanagh's Mediterranean Garden Plantshas been nicknamed 'the bible'. The new edition at €24.90 is now generally available throughout Spain.

ViverosFlorenaDiscount Scheme: Every month for 1 week, always 13th to 19th inclusive, a class of plants will carry a 20% discount. Check our web page for details.
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Tel: 689928201
Email:florenaspain@hotmail.comWeb page:www.viverosflorena.com
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