The Pots At Home

scotch-moss.jpgThe last 2 weeks have been wicked busy.  Several extensive landscape projects swung into high gear, at the same time I began planting containers and annual gardens.  There are but 10 of us that produce all of the work. We have done 67 annual and container gardens, with 6 more to go. One landscape project-a brand new house that needed everything from start to finish. The other project-a new pool and pool house needing a landscape.  Needless to say, I have not done much at home.  The bed around the fountain got replanted with scotch moss.  I did get a few of the deck planters planted, so I wouldn’t have to celebrate my birthday looking at pots of dirt.

surfinia-sky-blue-petunias.jpgI have always liked the color purple in the landscape, but I have never made it the focus of my containers.  Last year’s silver and brown containers were my most favorite ever, but I hate to repeat a scheme.  The entire fun of planting annual containers is that you get to chose something new.  Since I already have Princeton Gold maples, Sum and Substance hosta, and now the lime green moss, I thought yellow might be a good companion to the purple.

purple-and-yellow.jpgThere are plenty of purple and yellow annual and tropical plants.  Scaevola and dark purple angelface angelonia are both on the blue purple side.  Yellow thunbergia, is a vine sporting sunny lemon yellow flowers.  The contrast of colors is lively and cheery.  I also like the look of these colors with my yellow brick.  The blue from the sky and the green from the landscape are important colors in any garden scheme.  The sky occupies a lot of square footage overhead.  But the color of a home will influence the look of any color you put next to it.


But I was interested in something else besides color.  I have always been a proponent of growing plants that are willing and able to grow.  Some plants are not that demanding.  Some plants deliver lots of satisfaction without asking for much in return.  It is easy to become besotted with Vista petunias, as they grow and bloom profusely.  But this year, I thought I would try to grow some plants that would challenge my ability to grow things.  The lime scotch moss-it is hard to grow in larger areas.  Yellow petunias are not that easy either, although this Proven Winner’s variety “citrus” promises be be a better than usualy grower.

bicolor-angelonia.jpgButterfly marguerites are willing growers, but they require regular dead heading to stay beautiful.  They also seem to need more attention to the water than other annual plants.  If I comer home at the end of a very hot day, it is the marguerites that are wilted.  Angelonia performs well, as long as it gets heat.  The best looking angelonia I have seen in the past week have been in the greenhouse.  Our early summer weather has been especially cool.

lavender-and-pale-yellow.jpgLime licorice will not tolerate too much water. The felted leaves say that loud and clear.  The leaves will bleach, if the plant is grown in too much sun. It will wilt with too little water.  Finding just the right spot for licorice is a challenge.  Growing it with another trailer sometimes provides it with just enough cover to make it thrive.


Million bells are trailing plants with loads of charm.  This new variety of super bells is called “Miss Lilac”. The color is very interesting.  Growing million bells can also be interesting.  They rot easily, and develop yellow stems and leaves.  I recommend watering in the am only, and fertilizing with miracid.  Million bells do not thrive when the Ph is too alkaline.  Petunias don’t mind the miracid treatment either.  The color of this million bells is delicate-we’ll see if it is tough enough to withstand my care.

variegated-foliage.jpgPurple annual plants for shade are few and far between, so I am trying torenia this year for the first time.  It is so true that the only way to learn how to grow plants is to grow them.  If I have questions about the cultivation of a plant, I like to ask a grower.  This is one of the best reasons to shop for plants at your local farmer’s markets.  The people who are there helping you select plants are growers.

variegated-boxwood.jpgThere are lots of ways to get yellow in a garden that don’t involve flowers.  The millet Jester is an excellent grass whose color is an intense lime yellow. The centerpiece of this container is a variegated boxwood.  The edges of the leaves are a creamy white.

coleus-Wasabi.jpgThe fairly new coleus cultivar called Wasabi is a very strong grower in either sun or shade.  In sun, the plant is butter yellow.  In shade, a yellow green.

annual-planting.jpgIn the center of these pots, I have planted cup and saucer vines.  The dark purple/green foliage sends out delicate purple tendrils which will attach themselves to the poles.  This is one of the few annual climbers that does not require a lot of support.  Once it gets going, it grows fast, and big.

Cobea scandens
The flowers open pale green; they will turn lavender, and finally mature to a dark purple color. I have grown cobaea scandens on a wall, but I have never tried it in a pot.  We’ll see how it works out.

begonia.jpgEvery year I swear I am not going to grow any big flowered begonias.  But in spite of the fact that they are big and gaudy, I just can’t resist them.  The obverse of the leaves have a purple cast.  This non-stop yellow begonia is a deliciously intense sunny yellow.  I planted some.  There are pots that are not planted yet.  But I am beginning to feel like I will in fact get them all planted.  The process of the planting comes at a very busy time of year, but is a time I truly enjoy.  Next up, the growing.

A Couple Of Days Worth


My annual planting season is in full swing.  My cork board is filled with job cards-there is a lot of work to do.  I do the design work-but that part is a fairly small part of the process.  Finding and ordering plants is followed by an installation and cleanup.  We like to check back fairly soon after a planting to be sure everything is growing ok. 

 It is a well known fact that only one person at a time can drive a bus.  What goes into planning and planting a job is much like delivering a busload of people to a destination.  A lot of seats on the bus are occupied by growers of perennials, annuals, tropical plants, herbs, and vegetables.  I know them on a first name basis.  I only ask for special help when I really need it.  I try to order by the truckload. I have a lot of respect for people who grow plants for a living-it is not easy. 

Some seats on the bus are for the people who plant.  They get seats in first class.  The most outstanding design on the planet means nothing if the installation is not first class. They know to water plants before they load them on a hot day.  They will water again-any plant they bring back at the end of the day.  They plant expertly, and quickly.  They know which side of a plant should face forward.  They know how to plant a rootball crooked, so a plant stands up straight.  They know how to soak a planting through and through.

There are two seats on my bus for the people who supervise.  They see to it that everyone is focused on a common goal.  They make executive decisions on the spot when they are needed.  They organize and direct every move.  They all work together amazingly well-I can barely keep up, placing the plants.  There is one seat for a runner-he delivers forgotten plants and materials to to the job.  There is one seat on the bus for Monica.  Every project has a job sheet detailing the scope of the work, the plant material, the hardgoods, and the time spent.  She is really good at spotting what might be missing from a sheet.    

  There are several seats on the bus for me.  Three days a week I shop the markets-between 5:30 and 6 am.  I need to get in and out in a timely way,  I go when the traffic is sparse. I am likely to run into other people who garden professionally; a few minutes may be spent socially, or in a discussion of a particular client that we have in common.  Several other days a week I drive to this greenhouse or that one-to see what looks good.  Then there is a seat I call the order desk. Plant numbers must be calculated, plants ordered, and a delivery coordinated. I direct the crew pulling material for a job.  Sometimes I draw the planting scheme on a picture of a pot from a previous year.  Sometimes I place the plants personally.   

A truckload of plants provide a couple of days worth of material.  Some jobs take a day or better; other days we may do three projects.  In any event, I have a lot of projects swirling around in my head.  I know instinctively when I see a plant that would work for a project-or a plant around which a project can be organized.  Some plants I need I might have to pass on.  Maybe there are not enough available, or they are not the quality I had hoped for.  Selecting the plants is one job I cannot delegate. 

 Blue salvia has never particularly appealed to me; so much undistinguished foliage with not so many flowers.  The Cathedral series is an intriguing one- it comes in a dark purple, white, lavender, and blue sky.  The mix is really good looking, especially if you like subtle color.  I signed up for 24 cases. We’ll see what comes of that decision.  Tomorrow I will shop the market, and order another truckload that will get me through the weekend.  It’s the time to plant the annual flowers. 

75 degrees today, and sunny.  I’ll take it.