Guest Blog: Andy Miller – Summer planting ideas with the Crucible range

  • Andy Miller photographed in the haddonstone show gardens

Hello, I’m Andy, the Head Gardener here at Haddonstone in Northamptonshire.  I’ve been a professional landscaper for over 20 years and I joined Haddonstone two years ago, where I’m responsible for keeping the Show Gardens in tiptop condition for our many visitors and customers.

Here is my second blog with tips and advice on gardening throughout the changing seasons, planting advice and recommendations for ensuring your Haddonstone planters and garden ornaments look fantastic all year long.

  • The Crucible Range photographed in the haddonstone show gardens

The Crucible range 

Haddonstone launched the new Crucible range a few months ago and I’m really pleased that the planters and fountains are here in our Northamptonshire Show Gardens.  The Crucible range includes a selection of three self-circulating fountains and four planters in a range of sizes and colours, so they’re perfect for grouping together as well as taking pride of place in a garden or on a patio.

The design of the Crucible range is quite minimalist and contemporary which I personally really like, however this did give me a bit of challenge to ensure they ‘work’ in our Show Gardens, which is in a traditional English garden setting!

Despite this, I really think that with a little bit of imagination and because the range is so simple and stylish, the planters and fountains will work in any style garden or landscape.

Whilst our Show Gardens don’t have a typically ‘contemporary’ area, I wanted to see if I could choose a range of plants that would work with this new range.

Here’s how I got on…

  • Haddonstone Crucible Range

    Andy's planted Crucible range

Summer planting ideas

I decided to group three varying sized planters together in our courtyard and to set them against a beautiful red brick wall which is covered with mature Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus henryana).  I think this contrasts so well against the modern-looking planters.  There is also an attractive stable yard door to the side of the planters which again I think adds a bit of interest.

I chose the Large Crucible Planter in Terracotta and two smaller planters in Portland colour, the Medium Crucible Planter and the Small Crucible Planter.

I’ve chosen a variety of plants with contrasting styles, coloured flowers and foliage, which I think helps to bring a lot of interest.  I’ve also chosen plants which enjoy being contained in a planter, rather than growing in the ground and which grow really well in the UK climate.

  • Andy Miller planting the Large Crucible Planter

Large Crucible Planter: Acer and Dianthus Capitan Marco

I really like Japanese maples – they are stunning deciduous trees that are ideal for smaller gardens.  In autumn the Acer turns from deep red to a more flame like orange before losing its leaves to reveal its striking structure, giving this tree its layered appearance throughout the summer months.  They also thrive when contained in a large pot so the Large Crucible Planter is ideal for this Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’.  The roots have plenty of room to grow and it can be easily moved to another part of the garden after the autumn when its leaves have dropped.  This Acer is already quite tall and it looks so magnificent planted in such a tall planter.  If you are planning to grow an Acer, remember that they grow best in ericaceous soil.

The deep red of this variety is so attractive against the orange terracotta of the planter and to add even more interest I have planted some pink Dianthus Capitan Marco at the base to add colour, texture and varying height.  I love this hardy perennial, it’s part of the carnation family and is grown widely in the UK. It’s so easy to grow as bedding anywhere in the garden and is so colourful and fragrant.




  • Andy Miller planting the Small Crucible Planter

Small Crucible Planter: Agapanthus

For the Small Crucible Planter I’ve chosen to group three of my favourite agapanthus plants together to add height and colour. The vibrant green leaves and blue trumpet-like flowers contrast so well against the other plants and are really stunning in the Portland colour of this planter.

Agapanthus, or African Lilly, flower from mid-summer to early autumn and are great for adding structure and height to either a border or a planter, like this.  They provide endless colour with their bright green stems and leaves – as one colourful flower dies off, another will grow in its place.

If you are planning to plant agapanthus in your garden I’d recommend planting them during the spring and in a very sunny spot.  They do prefer lighter soil but if the soil is heavier then I would recommend mixing some grit in with the soil to help with drainage.

  • The Medium Crucible Planter

Medium Crucible Planter: Margherita (two varieties)

With the Medium Crucible Planter I’ve chosen two varieties of margarita plant – the Marguerite ‘Giga White’and Marguerite Madeira Pink Daisy to add contrasting colour texture.

What I love about planting them in this way is how the flowers cascade over the sides of the planter and create attractive shadows.

Margarita plants are really great annual options for borders and containers as they’ll provide plenty of coverage and colour throughout the spring and summer, right up until the first frost.  What’s more, the more you deadhead the flowers, the more they will grow.  So you’ll have a constant supply of flowers that can be cut for flower displays.

As with all the other plants, they are better contained in pots so the energy is kept in the flowers, rather than going down into the roots.  My recommendation would be to enjoy them during the warmer months and then replace them with another plant once they have gone over.


  • Andy Miller with his finished summer planting ideas

A final word on planting during the summer

My top tips for planting during the summer and ensuring your plants stay healthy all summer long.

  1. Water, water, water!  It sounds so obvious, but ensuring your plants are well-watered during the hotter months will ensure they survive the high temperatures.  Water first-thing in the morning or during the evening when temperatures are at their lowest to prevent too much evaporation and to prevent mildew damage.
  2. Mulch.  Lightly mulching the surface of your soil will help conserve soil moisture to protect the roots and leaves of both young budding and older plants.
  3. Protect young plants.  To prevent sun damage, it’s wise to provide young plants and seedlings with some shelter, especially during the hottest part of the day.
  4. Watch out for pests.  The warmer months can bring out all manner of pests and creepy crawlies, so you may need to consider using a non-toxic product to ward away pests from your plants.  Remember to consider the environment and to only use organic and environmentally-friendly pest control products.
  5. Dead heading! Once a flower head has gone over it should be removed as it will encourage new and flowers and help to keep your displays looking more attractive.

Happy gardening and I will see you next time!


View the Crucible range

Speak to our team

Whether you’re working on a private residential or large commercial project, or if you are interested in home and garden products, our friendly and expert team are happy to discuss your requirements.

  Request a call back