Thursday, May 8, 2008

Container Gardening

I am enjoying a day off sitting outside and trying to soak up a little inspiration for this week’s posting. Things are really picking up at Countryside. We are glad to see so many old friends and make lots of new ones. I actually have lots of thoughts but no time to really put them together.

A few weeks ago Michael and I participated in a container garden forum put on by the McHenry Garden Club. It was modeled after the floral design show that is sponsored by the Richmond Garden Club, in that several garden centers were asked to design containers on stage and the finished containers were then raffled off to audience members. There were over 300 people in attendance so obviously there is a lot of interest in container gardening.

Here are a few tips on container garden design. These are based on questions we get asked here at Countryside. A lot of this is pretty subjective. The most important thing is that you like it.
Placement: In order to get to the design considerations first determine where the container will go. This will determine the size, style and color of the container. If it is going up against a structure (house or garage) you might consider a square container so that it will sit flush against the wall. If it will be free standing, consider using a pedestal or urn-type container to get the color closer to eye level.

Color: Again, this is a matter of taste. You might want to use a container color that blends with the house color so that the flowers make a greater visual impact. If it is free-standing, in the garden for instance, you might try using a more boldly colored container so that both the container and flowers provide color interest.
Selecting Plants: Thriller, Filler, Spiller. This design mantra has become quite popular recently, being mentioned in the popular media as well as the trade media. Indeed, we are now labeling our annual plants with these designations to make it easier for customers to select plants for their containers.
“Thriller” plants are the main focus of the container. They should be one and a half to 2 times taller than the height of the container to give the proper balance and symmetry. They would be placed in the center of a symmetrical container or to the back of a one-sided design. “Filler” plants are usually mounding or semi-trailing plants that fill in the center of the container. Several different plants can be used to extend or enhance bloom time. The “Spillers” are the vines or trailing plants such as vinca or bacopa that trail down the sides of the container and soften the edges.
Maintenance: Containers require maintenance just as other garden beds do. Be sure to water regularly, fertilize, dead head and trim back the more vigorously growing plants as needed.
Michael gives a container gardening program every Saturday morning at 11am through May. Meet at his potting bench in greenhouse 4. He is also available to meet with customers whenever he is at work as is the rest of the greenhouse staff.

If you need additional inspiration go to The Proven Winners web site . It has many pictures of container gardens, as well as the "recipe" to make them. You can search their site by container type and size, color, season and exposure to find just the right combination for you. We grow a lot of their plants so if you see something you like we probably have it.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Below are some basic gardening tips to get you started on creating your dream garden

Gardening Tip 1. Consider your plants health as well as your own. Ensure you keep yourself well hydrated whilst gardening. As most gardening is done in the sun, involves physical labour and is very engrossing, it is easy to work away for hours on end without noticing the time flying by. Keep drinking lots of fluids and make sure you are wearing adequate sun cream and a hat. Your garden will only suffer if you are in bed for a few days with dehydration or sun stroke. Remember, skin cancer is still one of the top killers so dress appropriately.

Gardening Tip 2. Design your garden before you start digging. Your time and energy is precious so don’t start digging holes and planting plants without having a garden design first. You may choose to employ a professional garden design or you may just want to draw your desired garden on a piece of paper yourself, depending on your budget. Either way if you have a plan of what you are doing and what you want to plant where, you will save yourself many back breaking hours digging and planting unnecessarily.

Gardening Tip 3. Make a list of the tools and materials you will need. After creating your garden design, list the tools and materials that are required to create your masterpiece. You may need specialist equipment like heavy earth moving machinery that needs to be hired and booked in advance or you may wish to plant exotic plants that need to be ordered and grown specially. You don’t want to get half way through your project only to find you cannot get a piece of equipment on hire for 2 weeks. When this happens it is very frustrating and can sometimes hold up the entire job.