This entry was almost qualified with 'with a dinner fork'.
I have fought a lifelong battle against the estranged twins that are my nemeses - an impressive thriftiness with my time and energy (or as some might call it, laziness); and an intense urge to DO ALL THE THINGS - all the life affirming, life bettering, time and energy intensive things, and this battle probably explains quite a few of the questionable life choices I continue to make.
I was too lazy to undo my shoelaces (both when I first removed them; and then when I needed to wear them again) and so opted for flipflops over bare feet. I was almost lazy enough to eschew going into the yard with a torch to find the hand fork and found myself eyeing up the draining board (drying up is hard work). The pros and cons of using tined cutlery to dig soil having been weighed, the torch found and the raging internal diss-battle won, I skidded across the slick yard in my even slicker flip-flops and nearly landed on my arse. Apparently pressure washing the patio was too much of a fuss to bother with these past few years, but mixing my own experimental potting mixes on said patio was not.
And there I was, not quite lazy enough to not go out onto the street at 9pm, when the cooking and the homework and the laundry and bedtime were finally out of the way, and plant out a tray of violas and a couple of autumn blooming flowers that we bought today.
When we moved into the street, a few houses had modest pots but had resigned themselves to the obvious truth that one street over someone must be in bed with the City in Bloom judge, because One Street Over had won every damn year for the past millenium and had the wall plaques and slightly elevated house prices to prove it. OK, they put on a good show, but I don't know, THAT good?
Back on my lovely street, there is one lady who has an amazing year round display, and I've often wished we and everyone else were more like her. After a few years of having our own token potted offerings, Him Indoors decided it was time to go hard or go home. This year we bought huge troughs, fixed up the window boxes, threw in some pots and filled them all with as many plants as would fit.
Passers-by started to comment on them. Adults loved them, kids loved them, dogs loved them, the cats loved them in their own 'special' way, which is why I find myself regularly buying new plants. Neighbours came to me for gardening advice, because she with the biggest container-acreage is obviously the one with the greenest fingers. Over the next few weeks, more pots started to appear down the street. There are hanging baskets, window troughs and planters appearing; and now I can't have anything less than stellar planters, because I can't be seen to be slumming it.
This is all wonderful for a city street; and it all started with one lady across the road and her spectacular pots. Whilst I don't like the creeping anxiety that we're helping to gentrify ourselves out of a tenancy, I like that people stop to smell the flowers, I like that the street is now a lovely pollinator corridor for the bees and hoverflies and I like that I have a bit of extra space for my herbs.
The RHS are running an awesome campaign right now, Greening Grey Britain, to encourage exactly this sort of thing - there are some helpful tips and downloads to help you get started.
My advice? Troughs can wait until next year. Start small or not at all. One pot, one or two plants - something you could dig over with a dinner fork in a pinch.