Gardens

Mixed Containers Without Flowers

Whether you’re putting together a mixed container for outdoors or an indoor dish garden, the design principles are the same. Mixed plant pots are beautiful on decks and porches, in a window as fall turns into winter, and to give as gifts for the upcoming holiday season. If you use these guidelines you’ll put together a beautiful combination.

  • Choose plants that will do well with the same growing conditions. In other words, if all the plants do well in part-sun or full sun, they should combine nicely, or if all your selections appreciate regular watering they will all thrive. Many plants will thrive with either a bit more or less light or water, so you don’t have to be too strict about matching the growing conditions listed on the labels, but avoid combining plants on opposite ends of the scales. For example, you wouldn’t want to put a cactus in with an aquatic plant.
  • Look for different shapes and textures of leaves. A big leave contrasts well with finer foliage.
  • Look for foliage that has different colors or shades of green. There are so many plants with yellow, bluish, purple and even pink foliage now that when you’re in a garden center it’s easy to find several great possibilities!
  • Think of variegated plants as being the distinctive spice in the recipe…a little is usually all you need, and too many distinctive flavors don’t necessarily harmonize well. Use variegated plants judiciously.
  • Use plants that will grow in different directions or habits: one tall and straight, some mounding, and some that will spill over the side of the container.
  • Be sure to look where the small houseplants are sold in your garden center: there are many varieties of great foliage colors and textures that are sold in 4″ pots for use indoors.
  • Here are the ingredients I chose for this container. One plant with large leaves that also added a splash of purple. one tall plantt for the center, one plant with variegated foliage, one with bluish foliage and one with bright green, fine foliage.

    Here are the ingredients I chose for this container. One plant with large leaves that also added a splash of purple. one tall plant for the center, one plant with variegated foliage, one with bluish foliage and one with bright green, fine foliage. 

    Here is how the pot looked with it was first planted. Although I had duplicates of some plants I grouped them all together so the container looked instantly full but each texture and leaf shape had it's own spot. Had I alternated them it would have looked more like a mish-mash and you wouldn't have seen any of the colors or textures clearly.

    Here is how the pot looked with it was first planted. Although I had duplicates of some plants I grouped them all together so the container looked instantly full but each texture and leaf shape had it’s own spot. Had I alternated them it would have looked more like a mishmash and you wouldn’t have seen any of the colors or textures clearly.

    Here is how the pot looked from one angle in mid-summer.

    Here is how the pot looked from one angle in mid-summer.

    And from the other side where you couldn't see the purple begonia leaves.

    And from the other side where you couldn’t see the purple begonia leaves.

    Finally, here's how this container looked in September when things had filled out.

    Finally, here’s how this container looked in September when things had filled out.

    In the container I show above the plants all thrived together and none of them out-performed or overtook the others. Often when we combine plants, however, a few varieties will grow better than some of the others and at the end of the season we find that one or two plants have disappeared. This is a natural part of creating a mixed container, so be willing to say, “OK, may the best plants win!  When you use assorted plants we commonly think of as house plants in outdoor containers you can bring it inside as is, or dig them out and pot them up individually to keep over the winter indoors.

Gardens

Plant a Front Yard Flower Garden

This is my front yard flower garden.

Think that a front yard has to be a stretch of lawn and a foundation planting filled with a lineup of the usual suspects? Have you thought that flowers belong in a row along the path to the front door, or in a circle around the lamppost? Think again! This Weekend Project is about planting

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Food

Early Fall Garden Salad

Yard-long beans, cucumbers, herbs and nasturtium flowers are the primary ingredients in this salad.

In mid-September the garden is still producing and one of our favorite meals is one that is created with what’s still available.

Yard-long beans, cucumbers, herbs and nasturtium flowers are the primary ingredients in this salad, although I added some finely chopped “Sweet Heat” peppers. The beans have been sautéed so that they are

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Gardens

Spots on Tomato Fruit

But for every spotted tomato we pick several that are undamaged. This basket of perfect fruit was picked at the same time as the blighted tomato in the photo above. They are delicious, and beautiful, and worth all our efforts in growing them.

In late summer and early fall I get many inquiries about spots on tomato fruit and foliage. Dark spots on yellowing leaves, black spots or sunken areas on the fruit…”What is wrong with my tomatoes?” people ask. These are usually fungal problems and although it’s usually difficult to diagnose which tomato disease people are dealing

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Lifestuff

Cultivating Flexibility

Early morning watering at Poison Ivy Acres.

Any regular reader of my blogs knows that one of the things I value most about gardening is that is fosters flexibility. Plants are living things, and living things are quirky…we are in partnership with Mother Nature in our landscapes and she has the controlling interest. Wise gardeners soon learn to be attentive and adaptable.

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Love This!

I Love Peacock Kale

There is a blush of pink on the Peacock White variety and the Peacock Pink is very bright as the cold season goes on... every October through December I say to myself, "Next fall I have to plant MORE of these..."

Name:  Brassica oleracea  Peacock White or Peacock Red aka Peacock kale

Type of Plant:  This feather-leaf cultivar of the ornamental kale is one of the fall annuals sold at garden centers in autumn.

Why I love this: My feeling is this: why buy mums that only last for three or four weeks, when you could

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