Posts

I am always on the lookout for new ways to display annual flowers.  I’ll do anything from transforming old, antiques into planters to using brightly-colored containers.


On a recent visit to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens in Wisconsin, I saw this creative use of an old, decaying tree trunk…


What a great example of a sustainable flower ‘pot’.  

The depression within the tree trunk held just enough potting soil for the flowers to grow in.  

Seeing this made me wonder what other items that we find in nature that we can use as planters.

Any ideas?


Fall is here and nurseries are stocked with all sorts of cool-season annual flowers.

So, my question to you is, what will you plant your annual flowers in this fall?
Will you use a ‘regular’ container?


Or, maybe you are the type who likes to do things a little differently?

Maybe one of these unusual planters is more your style?

An old bicycle basket finds new purpose as a planter in Noblesville, Indiana.

Marigolds planted in an old wheelbarrow along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona.

Old pots and bowls used to plant miniature gardens in an antique store in upstate New York.

Old chairs transformed into planters in the historic downtown of Noblesville, Indiana.

A ‘bed’ of flowering bulbs in Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana.

An old bathtub serves as a large planter in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Galvanized metal bucket containers at an Amish swap meet.

I was fortunate enough to have seen all of these unique planters throughout my travels.  But, it was these galvanized bucket containers that inspired me to purchase an old antique watering can and create my own unique container for flowers…


 I found this rusty watering can in an antique store in Prescott, Arizona and I knew just where I would put it in my garden.

I added some holes on the bottom, and filled it with violas, lobelia and alyssum.   It sits right in the middle of my side vegetable garden where I can see it from my kitchen window.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the unusual planters from my travels.

**I would love to hear about any unique items that you have seen transformed into planters 🙂

With warming temperatures, many of us begin to think about changing out our cool-season annual flowers for plants that can take the heat of summer.


Last week, I gave a potting demonstration for attendees of a local home tour.  


The pots were then to be raffled off.

I planned on creating two succulent pots and one using a combination of perennials and annual flowers.


My daughter, Rachele, came with me to help carry the bags of soil, pots, plants, etc.

It was also an opportunity to spend time together before she left for the Navy.

There were to be two different potting demonstrations.  I created one succulent pot ahead of time…


This container has pink-flowering Crown of Thorns, tall Lady’s Slipper, Variegated Elephant’s Food and a gray-colored cactus.

I like to create container plantings with a tall plant for vertical interest.  The Crown of Thorns provides striking floral color.  The Elephant’s Food will trail over the edge of the pot as it grows, which adds texture and softens the container’s lines.  

Lastly, the gray-colored cactus (I admit that I don’t know what kind it is), adds great color contrast with its gray/blue color.

Soon, it was time for the first demonstration.  My daughter took photos of me talking.  The lighting is terrible because I was in the shade and behind me was the sun, but you can still see what I was doing.

Looking down at my notes.  Can you tell  I use my hands when I talk?

Planting the orange Calendula.
Adding Purple Verbena and filling the spaces with Celosia.
I just need a bit more Celosia in the front, don’t you think?

For this container, the tall vertical interest comes from Mexican Feather Grass.  The bright color is from the Calendula.  The trailing plant is Purple Verbena and gray Lavender provides the color contrast.

I used Celosia to fill in the empty spaces.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

When planning on what plant combinations will look good in a container, I simply arrange the plants, while they are still in their containers at the nursery.


Now it was time for planting the second succulent pot.

First, adding the Elephant’s Food.

Ever wonder how to plant a cactus without getting pricked?


An old towel, folded into quarters (4 layers thick) works great.  I covered the top of the Golden Barrel Cactus with the towel as I turned it over to plant.  The towel came off easily once I was finished.

Newspaper is also helpful in planting cactus.

Almost done…


Finished!

The Blue Elf Aloe provides the height for this planting combination.  Elephant’s Food will grow to trail over the side.  The Golden Barrel cactus adds color contrast with its round shape and yellow spines.  Ice plant with brightly-colored red flowers adds a needed splash of color.


The pots each went to good homes and raised money for future community projects.

Do you like growing plants in containers?  

Or maybe, you haven’t tried before.

Well, it’s not difficult.  Come back for a visit in a couple of days and I’ll share with you my container guidelines.

One of the joys of gardening, is sharing it with others.


I have shared it with my kids and am now starting with my first grandchild, Lily.


Last week, we made a Valentine’s Day present for her mom and dad.


We started with a trip to the nursery…



We bought two types of flowers for a fragrant container – Stock and Alyssum.

I already had the pot, the potting soil and slow-release fertilizer – so we were good to go.


When I had planned to do this with Lily – I had counted on my husband being there to take pictures of us.  But, he had to leave at the last minute to take the dog to the vet (abscessed tooth – he’s okay now).

So, I had to take the photos myself, while making sure that Lily didn’t fall off the bench – hence the picture, above, of her sitting in my lap.

She seemed pretty steady on the picnic bench, so I let her sit by herself for a few seconds for this picture…


She did just great, but I did have to teach her not to pull the flowers off – I think that is first lesson that I have had to teach each of my kids.

When my daughter came over to pick her up later that day – Lily had a pretty container of flowers to give to her mom.

Lily is 15-months old and at a great age to start letting her accompanying me in the garden.

Next week, I think we will pull some carrots from the vegetable garden for her to take home.

My two oldest daughters, don’t have any special interest in gardening – although I did try my best.

My 15-year old daughter, Ruthie, loves the vegetable garden.  I hope that she will continue to enjoy gardening as she grows up.


How about you?  Do you like to garden with your kids or grandkids?

One of my favorite memories as a child was visiting antique stores with my mother.  We usually did this whenever we went on vacation.  My dad would stop the car whenever she saw a store that looked promising.

Now that I am an adult, my mother and I have fun visiting antique stores when we travel together.  I don’t have a lot of antiques myself, but I do have some special pieces.

Last summer, our family traveled to Prescott, which I blogged about back then in “Antique Junk for the Garden“.


 One of the pieces that I got was an old, antique watering can.
I had a vision of seeing it full of flowering annuals.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t plant in the summer because it was too hot for plants to survive in the container.  (It can be very hard to grow plants in smaller containers in summer because the outer 6 inches of soil is often too hot for roots to grow.
However, once fall arrived, I was ready to plant my new (old) container.  
First, I had to make some holes on the bottom for drainage.  Then I filled it with planting mix and then my annuals…
    
 I planted alyssum, violas and lobelia.  The watering can is now sitting in the middle of my vegetable garden.  I added a drip emitter, so my new container is watered whenever my vegetables are.
I must admit that I am quite pleased with how it turned out.
Have any of you used old, antique containers in the garden? 
Nasturtium
 
From time to time, I receive emails from readers of my blog who ask me a gardening question or two.  Well, I love talking about plants and helping people with their gardens, so it works out well.
Earlier this week, I was so surprised to find an email from a reader who had sent me pictures of flowers growing in their garden.

 Snapdragons
To be honest, I was touched that someone would want to share with me pictures of their garden.
I love to garden, obviously…..but it is so nice to get a view of what is happening in other people’s gardens.   

 Pansy & Dianthus
The beautiful flowers that I am privileged to show you are from the garden of Frank & Lynda who reside in Northeast Mesa, which is a suburb of Phoenix.
 Alyssum, Geranium and Nasturtium
Frank was kind enough to let me show you all their beautiful flowers.  As he put it, his wife has the ‘green thumb’ and he is the ‘waterboy’. 
 Frank & Lynda, thank you for allowing me to share some of your beautiful flowers.
**If any of you would like to show me what is growing in your garden, please feel free to send me an email with a picture.  I would love to post photos of what you are growing, so that other people can enjoy them as well.
 Have a great day!
 
 There are some signs that summer is beginning to fade and that fall is around the corner.  The stress that the high temperatures of summer bring has caused many plants to slow down their growth.  
 
However, the slightly lower temperatures in September bring on a flush of new growth for many trees, shrubs, and succulents in the garden.  I enjoy being out in my garden this time of year and seeing many of my plants rejuvenated.
 

With the somewhat cooler temperatures, I am now seeing many gardeners venturing outside and taking stock of the condition of their landscape.  Fall is a busy time in the desert garden because it is the ideal time to install many types of plants, which will be discussed in a separate post in early October.

  
SHRUBS: I just finished lightly pruning my ‘Rio Bravo’ sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae).  Summer flowering shrubs that are cold-hardy look their best when lightly pruned at this time to help reign in rangy, sprawling growth. This should be only done with hand pruners only.  Do not use a hedge trimmer and shear your shrubs.  They should have a pleasing natural shape when you are finished.  Do not prune back frost-sensitive plants at this time.
 
 ANNUALS:  Although the local nurseries are abundant with winter annuals, I don’t recommend planting them now.  The temperatures are still quite hot, and there is a good chance that they will not make it.  
 

In the past when mid-September came, I would load up the truck with 100+ flats of annuals to plant around the community where I worked as the horticulturist.   I would then spent the next four weeks making repeated trips to the nursery to replace dead plants that just could not handle the heat of early fall.  From then on I would wait until October to change out summer annuals and replace with winter annuals.  As a result, we suffered very little plant loss.

TREES:  Mesquite and Palo Verde trees that are overgrown can be lightly easily pruned back.  Resist the temptation to heavily prune at this time.  January and February is the time for heavy pruning to occur for these trees.
 
SUCCULENTS:  Cacti, agaves and other succulent plants do best when planted when soil temperatures are warm, which makes September a great time to install them before cooler temperatures arrive.   Prickly Pear cactus can be pruned back this month if needed.  Problems with agave may show up this time of year. 
 
If your agave suddenly collapses, there is a good chance that they have gotten an infection with agave snout weevil.  There is no cure and the agave should be removed, it will be smelly due to the decay the weevil causes – and not just a little stinky.
 
One of my (least) favorite memories happened years ago when I worked as a horticulturist on a golf course.  One year, we had to remove countless agaves throughout the landscapes due to a large infestation – the smell was awful.  If this happens to your agave, do not plant another agave in the area – use another type of plant instead.
 
ROSES:  Roses should be lightly pruned and fertilized this month (see earlier post for details).
 

CITRUS:  Make sure to fertilize your citrus trees if you have not already done so (see earlier post for details).

 
NEXT MONTH – get ready for planting and wildflower garden preparation!