If there’s one thing guaranteed to lift the spirits, it’s bright seasonal colour in containers at doors and windows.  With a little planning, you can have pretty things in pots and windowboxes all year round, and they’re perfect for places where space is tight.

It’s still a month or so too early for the summer bedding plants that keep containers blazing with colour during the warmer months – many of them are not frost-hardy and need to be kept under cover till at least early or mid May.  But there are lots of lovely things that you can plant up now for a spring display that will fill the gap until early summer.

Although garden centres have had to temporarily shut their doors to customers, many are still able to do deliveries – so I’d suggest you call your local garden centre and see if they can supply what you need.  It’s a good way to support local businesses and to help avoid waste.  You may have heard that many seasonal plants will simply have to be destroyed unsold by nurseries and garden centres because they simply won’t last.  I hate to think of all the resources spent in producing these, not to mention the lost revenue for those who have worked so hard coaxing tiny seedlings into baby plants that might never have a chance to bloom.

Looking good now are potted spring bulbs in different sizes – hyacinths, narcissi and tulips will give you some height in the middle of your display while smaller grape hyacinths and anemone blanda will look well in front and towards  the edges.  Spring bedding plants,  usually available in either pots or trays, include bellis perennis, polyanthus and viola or pansies – tuck these in at the front.  For raised displays such as a windowbox, it’s always nice to have one or two trailing plants spilling over the edge – like the trailing ivies and lobelias in the picture.  A lovely alternative to trailing ivy is Vinca minor, the lesser periwinkle – this is a small evergreen perennial usually used for ground cover in shady places.  Its pretty, purple- violet flowers are looking good right about now – there are white forms as well – and its spreading habit produces trailing stems that make it work well in containers.  You can always plant it out in the garden when it’s time to replant the windowbox for summer.

Make sure you use fresh multipurpose compost – last year’s will be completely exhausted of nutrients – and water regularly, daily or twice daily as needed.   Now you – and passers-by – can enjoy the sight of your winning windows!

A version of this article was first published in the Galway Advertiser.