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June 26, 2014

Colorful Containers

Filed under: Containers,Spring,Summer — Judy @ 10:28 pm

Some of the fun part of what we do is planting containers for folks. Every spring we make the rounds of so many garden centers finding the best looking plants. There are the tried and true plants, the new cultivars, thrillers, fillers, and spillers and we need to select hundreds every year to fill all those containers. The deck, where we store them until they get used, is crammed full three or four times every year.

Plants on deck

We start out the planting season in mid-April with some ceramic bowls stuffed with colorful pansies and Johnny jump-ups. There is still the possibility of snow and freezing temperatures until mid-May and these plants are troopers! Their sweet smell and cheery faces are always welcome and hold up well until the weather gets downright hot.



Once the weather stabilizes, we get busy filling all the containers. What plants go in which containers always depends on the environmental situation. Is it a hot spot, a shady spot? Will the plants get watered faithfully or have an irrigation line tapped in, or will they be left mostly to their own devices – never a good situation! Some plants are so tough (more…)

July 28, 2012


Filed under: Containers,Flowers,Our gardens,Summer,Veggies — Judy @ 3:36 pm

Hot, hot, hot dry summer. Hard to keep up with the watering. The New York Times has an article addressing the extent of this summer’s extreme drought across the nation here More than half of the country is affected, the largest contiguous area in 60 years. This graphic shows the data since 1896.

2012 Drought Map

via New York Times

Our own modus operandi is to water the things that really need it like the annual containers, the veggie garden (although not all of it), and the newer plantings that are not well-established yet. Not ‘well-established’ means plantings that are generally less than 1-2 years of age whose root systems do not reach deep enough to find water yet. We don’t water the water-hogging lawn grass. Yes, that means it goes browner, but it does not die and it will come back when the rains do come.

We have some clients that also take a laissez-faire approach to their new plantings, seemingly thinking that once they are planted, they don’t require any attention, let alone watering, whatsoever. This is frustrating because these same clients then wonder why their plants are dead or dying and want you to replace them because they were “defective!” Yet, they have no problem mega-watering their lawns until flash-fungus sets in.

We have been encouraging people to install microirrigation systems like Rainbird or Netafim for their new plantings and will design and install these systems for them. The beauty of these is that the water is delivered right to the plant through drip line emitters laid out under the mulch thus eliminating water wastage by spraying into the air. An automatic controller attached to the system means you can essentially ‘set it, and forget it’ although seasonal or rainy day adjustments may need to be made. We have even attached tiny drip lines with bubblers on the end to successfully water containers. And that is a definite time-saver for people who want lots of containers, but have no time to water them when they need to be watered!



Now, aren’t those better looking than old, brown, shriveled up flowers and veggies?

December 11, 2010

The snow cometh

Filed under: Containers,Decorating,Our gardens,Winter — Judy @ 1:18 pm

I love snow, don’t get me wrong, but over two feet in the last week on the home turf might be a bit much even for me. This composite cell phone picture looking out the back door was taken before we had another eight inches or so. Isn’t that great?! Reminds me of a Thanksgiving when we got snowed in with four feet and the kids were sliding off the top of the deck railings down the hill!

Composite of snow in yard

We were shoveling three times a day to keep up with it, but actually had to break out the snowblower one morning after another eight inches was dumped overnight. A little too much to handle when you have over 200 feet of driveway to do!

Thought you might like to see a couple of fun topiaries I did for a client this year.

Front door wide view

The spiral obelisks were wound with gold and white frosted beaded garland and white mini-lights, and then topped with a lovely gold ball.

Single topiary - closeup

At the base, I created a wreath of a mix of fabulous greens – blue-green noble fir, microbiota that had turned purple from the cold, blue-berried juniper, yellow arborvitae, feathery white pine, droopy douglas fir, and incense cedar – all intertwined with more white mini-lights.

Wreath of mixed greens

The view at night – spectacular!

Topiaries at night

When the weather outside is bitter cold, and the wind is blowing, I would much rather stay inside by a warm, cozy fire. But when I can get outside, clear those cobwebs from the brain, breathe the fresh air, and maybe play in the snow – life is good!

October 16, 2010

More Fall Containers

Filed under: Containers,Fall — Judy @ 9:51 pm

We’ve had our first frost and we are planting bulbs and doing fall garden cleanups. Yes, it is almost time to hibernate! But before then, a few more fall containers that I put together.

Pumpkins and Angelina sedum

Sometimes my clients are very diligent about caring for their containers and they still look pretty good at this time of year. Adding a little color in the way of small mums or gourds or surrounding them with pumpkins are all they need to celebrate the fall season.

Elatior begonias and Diamond Frost Euphorbia

Gaura, lantana, and coleus

Sometimes the containers have not aged so well and need a more major reworking. Using the few remaining plants and ending up with something worthy of the season requires some ingenuity.

Fall vignette

Mixed fall container

And then there are those areas that never got addressed this year, but suddenly were front and center when a backyard party was planned. Case in point, this little garden near the gazebo was full of weeds and the former fountain in the center was no longer functional. The clients weren’t sure how they wanted to proceed with this area so I elected to use a few mums and sedums to temporarily brighten the ground. The pièce de résistance was finding a great plant stand and constructing this glorious basket with bright fall colors to place on top. Sort of simulates a fountain, doesn’t it?

Faux fountain

And finally, sometimes you just need to create all new plantings in the containers like this.

Ferns, heuchera, and rudbeckia

The leaves are turning, there is a nip in the air, but the colors of fall will keep us warm a while longer.

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