Our Container Garden Contest was a hit. The response both
by mail and email was tremendous. We were overwhelmed by
the beautiful, unique and whimsical containers. Some were
large, some small, one was in a shoe, one a barbecue grill.
They came in all shapes and sizes. It truly was difficult
to pick one as the best. But we did pick a winner.
The winner this season is DeWayne Gallatin.
DeWayne excelled in both the quantity and quality of his
containers. As well, we were impressed by the way he transitions
so beautifully from the ground to a container. It is often
difficult to tell where the plants on the ground end and
the plants in the container begin. They fit beautifully
together. DeWayne taught us some new tricks.
DeWayne became interested in horticulture
at an early age. When he turned 16 his grandfather said
- get a job. He went to a public garden, they had a greenhouse
and he became a garden grunt. It was there that he fell
in love with horticulture, especially creating containers.
He particularly enjoys the design aspect - creating color
combinations and unusual height combinations. In fact some
have called him the "king of containers." (No
kidding). His friends often ask him to conduct classes and
he frequently helps others pick out their plants. He feels
containers are an important component to any great garden.
They're portable, changeable and they add instant presence
to the area where they're placed.
When choosing an area that needs a container,
DeWayne first looks for a space in the garden screaming
for an instant spot of color, an area that can be made exceptional.
He then looks at the surrounding colors. What colors should
be emphasized, what colors does he need to match? He then,
importantly, decides what is available. Mums aren't available
in January, for example. He next thinks about height. What
is the scale of the pot? How tall should the vertical element
be in that particular space? Should the container itself
be visible? How large should the container be compared to
the space. Before finally selecting the container, because
he knows it will be heavy when planted, he first places
it in the selected area. He then sizes up container and
space, imagining the fullness, color, etc. Even so, the
beauty of a container is that it can be moved once planted,
it can be placed in other parts of the garden.
We look at one of DeWayne's works of art.
He has selected a good size container for the area, which
is an open, large space. This container contains a lot of
interesting forms or textures, but has a fairly simple color
scheme. He starts by finding a focal point in the container,
then works from the back, forward. In the back he chose
Cosmos, a plant that provides height, a vertical element.
DeWayne then used the color pallet of the Cosmos to tie
in other plants. He likes Cosmos for several reasons. It's
a durable plant, easy to grow and it provides height. The
Cosmos' colors - whites, yellows and purples, are found
in his supporting plants. Mums, provide size and help fill
the container. Since he wanted them to stand out a little
he put them on mounded soil so they would sit a little higher.
Purple Cabbage is planted lower and protrudes out the front
and over the sides to soften the edges. It is a rich, dark
purple and adds visual weight low in the container, plus
it provides a sense of balance and stability. A Tricolor
Sweet Potato, is a holdover from summer, and is retained,
because it too, ties in. This container is different, yet
has a simple color scheme, everything is either pink or
purple or some combination of those colors.
DeWayne changes plants as the seasons
change. If a plant is healthy and will thrive and survive
in the nest season, he uses it again. Don't be afraid to
retain some plants but change plants out as their season
We look at another container. Dr. Rick
likes this one because it's difficult to tell where the
garden ends and the container begins. This container is
placed at the guest entrance. A Cleria hedge is in the background
and is pretty but not exciting, very dark green. DeWayne
wanted a "wow" effect but felt he could provide
that with texture, not color. He took a container and placed
it back in the garden, it's not sitting on the patio, but
in the garden itself. As the season progresses and the plants
mature the container slowly disappears into the garden,
however it still provides height and texture. In this container
DeWayne planted an Australian Tree Fern and under it he
planted white Impatiens and Variegated Ivy. Impatiens are
also planted on the ground, making it difficult to tell
where the Impatiens on the ground stop and the Impatiens
in the container start. DeWayne knows Impatiens get leggy
and grow rapidly during summer, thus knew they would fill
in any empty spaces. The Tree Fern provides the vertical
element necessary for effect. He bought it as a 3 gallon
plant. DeWayne has seen these plants grow to 12-15 feet
tall and as much as 15 feet wide. In the container, because
the roots are constrained, this tree would only grow to
about 5-6 feet tall. In the winter he puts it in a green
house, ties it up and it will over winter. He ties the frawns
so they take less space. It doesn't need to look beautiful
in winter, just keep it alive. As the frawns die back ,
he cuts them away. Don't over water, just water when it
gets dry. Next season this plant will probably outgrow its'
space in this container, DeWayne will then find another
space for it. This container is stunning because it combines
the light green color of the Tree Fern with the deep shade
of the Cleria in the background. The Impatiens flow seamlessly
from the ground to the container. Again a simple color scheme,
dark green in the background and lighter green in front.
It doesn't clash, it blends beautifully.
Researchers at the Center for Water Efficient
Landscaping at Utah State University say there is much that
can be done to create a beautiful, lush lawn yet still conserve
water. First, aerate our lawns. For warm season turf, Spring
is typically the best time to aerate. Fall is best for cool
season turf. It is also advisable when mowing to keep the
grass as tall as possible. The taller the leaf blade, the
longer the roots. Third, leave clippings on the lawn and
allow them to be absorbed by the grass plant. Finally, realize
that more is not always better - extra water and extra fertilization
is a great idea when conditions are right but during times
of drought or during times of stress too much fertilizer
and too much water can be a detriment. So ease off both
when water is lacking.
DeWayne designed another container specifically
because he wanted a vertical element against a tall brick
wall. The container is Polistyran, a false terra-cotta look.
Polistyran is light weight, which allows it to be moved
easily. The color was wrong for the space so he painted
it to match the surroundings. He first used a good primer,
covering the whole pot. He uses a paint brush because he's
found that spray paint will chip. After the primer, he used
a good exterior paint. It looks natural and has stood the
test of time. In the container he used a Evergreen called
Sky Pencil. It's a Holly and is very upright and very tight.
This plant can grow anywhere in the country, however, in
Northern climates it is prone to snow damage. With a heavy
snow it may split open. To combat this problem tie the plant
up before snow or ice hit, use twine and pull the leaves
into the trunk. This will keep the leaves and branches from
falling, then breaking. Otherwise this is a great plant.
To add punch DeWayne has added Zinia Orange Profusion. This
plant also comes in white or cherry, but DeWayne loves orange.
It compliments the Black Sweet Potato and DeWayne likes
something that spills over the front and softens the edge.
This Zinia is a cross, a hybrid, between
the regular garden Zinia and the Narrow Leaf Zinia, Angustafolia.
It is drought tolerant, which is important with plants in
containers. Because typically once plants in containers
get full they need water every day or every other day.
This combination is particularly striking
because behind this container is a stand of Persian Shield
or Strobilanthis. It is a great tropical looking plant,
good for the summer. In the back are Bananas, they provide
big texture and height. They really give that "wow"
effect. By chance, right now, the Banana is blooming and
the bloom has the exact same purple hue as the Strobilanthis.
There is also some Cleria in the area. The container ties
everything together, the greens, the purples, the oranges,
it all looks great and harmonizes the different components.
Dr. Rick thinks there is a tip here. If gardeners will keep
a log, record garden facts, keep track of what happens in
the garden that information is often very useful when planning
the next year.
Most of the time when we think of containers
we think about a container with plants growing out the top.
DeWayne has another approach, but it can still be considered
a container. It's a topiary. He has painted a metal frame,
resembling an animal, black. The frame is then filled with
Unmilled Sphagnum Moss. The frame then blends in and disappears.
Sphagnum Moss is normally found in potting soil where it
is ground up, this is in a more natural sheet form, right
from the bog. He soaks it overnight and it absorbs water,
becoming pliable, it then can then be molded into the sculpture
or topiary. After stuffing the Sphagnum Moss inside the
frame he adds the plants. In this case he chose Variegated
English Ivy, Ingrid Liz. The Ivy is placed inside the frame
on the Moss, DeWayne then takes the runners and attaches
them to the frame with floral pins. He selects plants in
2 1/2 to 4 inch pots, puts them close together, then trains
the runners. Once it fills in he maintains it by snipping
wild runners. If there is a bare or thinning spot move a
runner to the bare spot and pin it down. The only soil in
this topiary is the soil that the plants were originally
growing in, the original root ball of the Ivy. It is kept
sheared, tight and low, but looks great.
Georgia this week visits with Ruth Levitan.
Ruth's garden is always in demand for garden tours and Ruth
today shares with us some of her garden design philosophy.
A garden shouldn't be a frill around the house, it should
be separate from the house, it should bring you outside.
The paths in her garden become a journey,
not a destination. As one walks along the paths one sheds
the feeling of the house, the house is no longer important,
what is important is the outdoor experience.
Ruth wanted water in the garden, thus
dug a large hole for a fish pond. It is backed by large
shrubs so it becomes a destination. After stopping one might
then look for another destination. Large trees then can
then be used, they become a window, a place beyond a place,
In this garden the view is always changing.
There are wonderful paths that cause one to meander, they
lead us through the garden. It is charming. Ruth feels that
yards have natural divisions which can become adventures.
When one walks around a tree, for example, one sees things
from a different angle. Suppose the builder has scrapped
everything, left everything flat. Instead of having a square
lawn, think about reducing the yard to paths. Place, along
the paths, simple native bushes, then plant borders around
the bushes. Pathways provide a place to walk and allow one
to absorb things on either side. She feels the less lawn,
the more interesting the environment. Plus she feels there
is nothing more boring than pushing a lawn mower.
Georgia has enjoyed the special vistas
in Ruth's yard. Thanks Ruth for sharing your unique design
philosophies with our audience.
DeWayne had another area that he felt
needed added color. He found an old birdbath, not being
used, and turned it into a spectacular container. The birdbath
had turned green. He could have painted it, but felt that
painting might detract from the plants and not accent the
age of the birdbath. Instead he cleaned it up, it looks
like it has been around for at least a hundred years. He
filled it with potting soil and added Red Dragon Wings for
height and added Mums for Fall color. This container is
a good example of using high intensity plants, plants with
a lot of clarity in their color. It turned a drab area into
one that jumps out and catches the eye.
DeWayne likes to leave some containers
out year round. However when leaving a container out it
must be made of concrete. Terra cotta gets wet, then chips,
cracks and splits. Concrete can be left outside year round
but it is heavy so it isn't easily moved. Thus he tries
to put a permanent plant in these containers. In this case
he has used standard Boxwood. This Box has been topiaried,
he clips it to keep it shaped, therefore it has a more formal
look. This plant should probably only be in the container
for about three years, if it is still a good looking plant
at that point, plant in the ground, in a more natural setting.
Permanent plants won't do as well in containers long term,
as they would do in the ground. Their root system is subjected
to higher temperatures and lower temperatures - more fluctuation.
They experience not only wide fluctuations in temperature
but in moisture as well. Three to five years is about all
one can expect with plants like this in containers, they
then should be replaced with different plants.
Since there won't be anything else around
these containers, take into consideration the whole picture
and address not only the container, but its' base and the
surrounding bed line. They should all compliment each other.
DeWayne likes to top dress around the base, for this he
utilizes pine bark or mini pine bark.
DeWayne even has very small containers.
In these he has planted Rye, Wheat Grass. He planted it,
soaked it overnight and in five days had a beautiful stand.
It makes a beautiful table topper, is good for animals or
can be used in a healthful, organic drink.
Dr. Rick congratulates DeWayne on being
our winner. He has lived up to his name "the king of
containers." His containers are beautiful, stunning
and unusual. DeWayne thanks Dr. Rick, he is excited to have
We're starting another contest and will
announce a winner in the Spring of 2004. If you have something
unusual, send us your picture. We are looking forward to
visiting the next winner at their home and showing everyone
their gardening showpiece.
Back to Top