I know I said I’d corral all my gardening into a weekly crop report. And once the weather gets hot and sultry, I’ll be doing well to eke out one new post a week. But right now, spring is lunging straight into midsummer, and everything is still new and fresh, and full of potential. AND I have some big news regarding my business site, gardencoach.com (FYI, that link may or may not work when this goes live, but more on that later.)
After showing off my new baskets last week, I thought it was only fair to give some equal air time to my container plant choices. Last year, my hanging baskets and containers were pretty much the sum total of my gardening for the year, other than heeling in a few plants I brought with me. Here’s what they looked like last year at this time. And here’s a glimpse back into 2010, same containers in our old home.
Even though I’ve got almost 150 linear feet of new landscaping to maintain, I still love containers. They greet everyone who arrives at one of our doors, and they perk up the porch and deck in an intimate way; the landscaping that lays beyond is somehow a little detatched and removed from these areas.
And with landscaping, especially with shrubs and perennials, most of us play it pretty safe with tasteful, muted shrubs and flowers. It’s like picking wall paint – you’re going to stare at it a while so choose wisely.
But if shrub and herbaceous borders are like wall paint, then containers are like pillows. You can add a pop of color to liven things up, and if you tire of it, you can change it next year, or even at the end of the season. Might as well liven things up a bit.
Last year, I had similar arrangements with the ‘Mona Lavender’ and Streptocarpella paired with gold plectranthus. But this year I added some trailing coleus in ‘Glassworks Stained Glass’ in purple. Here’s hoping it can hold up to the heat better than the fiber optic grass did last year. If not, the plectranthus and strep will fill in soon enough.
Around the corner are two slightly larger containers.
Each holding a mix of ‘Charmed Wine’ oxalis, purple passion plant (Gynura),
‘Miss Muffet’ diminutive caladiums and fiber-optic grass.
Last year, I had two fuchsia-colored ivy geraniums in these containers and they did well, but they took a really long time to get up to speed (too much shade, I think.) The gynura is potentially an aphid magnet, and if it succumbs, it’ll get tossed on the compost heap before I think twice about it.
My trio of matching containers has a ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia in the smallest pot; in the biggest pot is a ‘‘Blackie’ ornamental sweet potato, ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia, orange Acalypha and orange-flowering Mimulus plus a charteuse-leaved sun coleus, all surrounding a rescued elephant ear (it was a little orphan plant that came with the house. It survived the winter but was getting stepped on since it had the misfortune of being near the hose holder.)
It’s hard to to see from the first picture, but here’s a top-down shot of the middle pot. It contains a black-and-yellow petunia
(cv. ‘Phantom’) and gold creeping Jenny in the medium-sized pot along
with a striped grassy phormium (often sold as “spikes” in nurseries.)
Like the baskets, the containers haven’t yet filled out, but they will soon enough, especially with the sudden onslaught of summer we’re experiencing. I could have shoved several more plants in each container, and I see “professionals” do just that in order to create an instant lush, full look. but I know that these plants all need a little elbow room and I’d rather give them what they need than cram them in and then have to take half of them out by mid-summer.
Your turn. What are your favorite plants for your containers? Do you have a sure-fire planting scheme you use every year? Or do you mix it up a bit each time you replant them?