Buck asks me this every morning. Some days the answer is simple, as in, “I don’t know yet”. It’s usually 5:30 am when I get the question-so not knowing where I will decide to be at 8 is not so hard to believe. But today I am in the thick of a large annual planting we do every year.
Thank heavens it has a different color scheme and feeling every year. My clients like tinkering with this as much as I do. Its plenty to plan-how many of this, and how many of that. Despite a fleet of trucks, we have plant material delivered. I invariably forget something, or think I have something reserved that’s not there. So we make changes.
This works for us-photo copies of last years pots and beds have the new scheme written on them. I don’t need to do much for Diana after all her years, except list the plants. Should I leave something out, or have too much, she knows how to adjust.
My client’s love of dahlias always presents transport troubles. This year Carlson’s greenhouse grew all the tall dahlias from cuttings. This makes the plant bushy from the start-as opposed to tall dahlias started from tubers. These short and chunky plants are easy to ship, and easier to plant. Let the sun and rain do the job of getting them tall, with those dinnerplate size flowers.
Giant wirework urns are mossed and planted at the shop; these get delivered, finished, and ready to place. As they are tall, and some are viewed at a distance, I plant simply, and with good contrast.
We plant beds backed up by mature and formal yew hedges with a low mix of annuals. The yews are not a backdrop; they are the feature. The little babble of trailing verbena and alyssum, heliotrope and angelonia is in stark contrast to those massive dark green yews.
We plant mandevillea vines, tropical hibiscus trees on standard, zinnias, New Guinea impatiens, and the dahlias-all in response to my client’s love of big flowers.
For years we have planted the vegetable garden in giant fiber pots. This year we have a formal vegetable garden under construction-the highlight of which is a European beech arbor 14 feet tall.
We are in the thick of it.
Annual flowers on a terrace do a lot to warm up all the hard surfaces. I pay particular attention to the overall plant height and composition of those pots, as they are usually viewed up close, and while sitting.
I may want a particularly beautiful pot elevated on a stand or pedestal, so as to feature it. I may plant tall pots in strategic areas to give intimacy to a dining area, or perhaps screen a poor view. At this moment, I am able to see my neighbor’s discarded Christmas tree quite clearly from my deck. Urban living-it has its challenges.
Small terraces benefit from a cohesive plan. Pots may be organized around a dominant color, or texture, or style.
They may be organized around a collection of containers.
Pots of flowers with every conceivable color, every texture, and in every size are the hallmark of a person whose first and last love is plants, and more plants. Though I appreciate excitement like this, I try to edit. After all, with annuals there are second chances, so I try not to throw myself at every annual like I have 10 minutes to live.
This terrace is planted in a color palette my clients like. We keep the color constant, but plant different plants every year. They do a beautiful job of taking care of it all, no kidding. My second favorite day of the gardening year, after Mindy prunes my boxwood, is going back to those places I planted in May, in July, and know I handed off the baton to someone who values this as much as I do. Thanks a million, Hilary and Stewart.