GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2005 show7
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Show #7

Container gardening is all the rage and it's no surprise. Containers are easy to assemble, movable and they can provide beauty all season long. Normally we visit beautiful resorts or gardens across the country, this week we visit with a viewer and she shares her ideas and gardening questions with us. Growing Annuals in containers is commonplace, this viewer is trying something different, yet something becoming more common - growing Perennials and Shrubs in containers.

Our viewer has been gardening for 30 years. Sometimes it seems a lot of hard work and she wonders why she does it, but the months of pleasure and enjoyment makes it worthwhile. She has lived in this house for 3 and 1/2 years. When she moved in there was very little landscaping, but knew that she wanted to make use of the natural surrounding beauty. Many of the landscaping plans were too elaborate, she wanted something simple, she wanted to keep many of the native plants like Ferns and Wild Azaleas. Thus the plan chosen was simple, she likes container gardening and felt that was the simplest way to add color, interest and bring nature up near the doors of her home. Although she is an avid gardener she doesn't consider herself an expert gardener and she loves learning new things, thus is looking forward to spending some time with Charlie.

Our viewer tells Charlie that she is trying something different this year. She has been reading her garden magazines, staying late at the garden center and has decided to use more Perennials and Evergreen type plants in her containers because she is tired of every season having to go out and replant all her containers. Using these different plants she has created different themes in her containers.

The first she calls her rock garden because these are plants that typically would do well in that type setting. She put them together because she thought they looked good. It contains a Red Leaved Thrift that is starting to flower. It is a low growing plant. Next to it is an Iberis, Snow Cushion Candytuft, it has small white flowers. Next to it is a Lithodora, Grace Ward, that has beautiful little blue flowers. This is a new plant and a nice rock garden plant because it stays low to the ground, maybe only growing to about a foot tall, and creeps along. Also she has included a Dwarf Black Spruce, Nana. All of these plants fit nicely in this 14 or 16 inch container.

We next look at some of our guests containers from last year, in which she has added some plants this year. The first is an aromatic container. It contains, from last year, a White Gem Gardenia, which did well last summer and lasted through the winter. It has beautiful little white flowers and the scent is fantastic. This container is in an area by a door and next to an outdoor eating area so the scent is wonderful and in a high traffic area. Also a holdover is Star Jasmine that she fears it is out of control, it is doing what it loves to do and that is to climb. This means she has 2 options, one cut it off right above the stake and try to make it bushier. Even doing this it will still quickly vine up in the summer or she could put a trellis against the house because right now it is holding on to the edging of the house. The trellis will give it a secure place to grab hold, it will keep growing and start flowering mid summer. She has added some new plants to the container. There is a Tuscan Blue Rosemary, Tuscan Blue, she loves to use Rosemary in cooking and it too has a nice fragrance and it will produce little blue flowers in the middle of the summer. Next to that is one of Charlie's favorites, Bee Balm, Jacobs Cline. It is resistant to Powdery Mildew and produces pink flowers in mid summer. Bees, butterflies and Hummingbirds all love this plant. Charlie likes the yard art in this container, although not a practical, the Hummingbird feeder is cute and that is what containers are all about.

We next look at a Conifer container, something different. Dwarf Conifers are "hot" right now. Our guest just returned from a trip to California and they're using a lot of Conifers , clipped in topiary forms. It is a bit of an investment, but she loves the architectural look. It is a little formal but makes a real statement in this part of her yard/garden. She has Pansies planted around the topiary now but will put a summer annual in soon. It will be fun to change the container with the seasons while keeping the topiary in year round. She has concerns about pruning it though. Charlie says with a topiary like this, an Alberta Spruce, already shaped, all is needed is a little pruning every now and then. Keep the spiral shape and it will continue to look nice.

The next container has a Pieris, Prelude. It is a beautiful Evergreen with nice white flowers with pink highlights this time of year. It is sometimes confused with a Tiarella. This Prelude, will grow to only about 2 feet tall. Next to it is Tiarella, Spring Symphony Foam Flower. It too has beautiful white flower stalks with pink coloring with very attractive foliage. This is a nice plant for part to full sun. The backbone of this container is the False Cypress. It is a sturdy looking plant that looks like a fern. Our guest likes ferns, but it will stay green all winter. These are all plants that one might see in the woods but they require sun. This container is located by the path to the woods and kind of prepares one for the journey into the wooded area.

Another thing Charlie notices about this container are the container feet, these are little bunnies. If you have a heavy terracotta container it will need to be elevated off the ground so water will be able to drain through and the plants won't drown in a heavy rainstorm. In cold areas, like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont for example containers like these will need to be brought indoors in the winter, otherwise they will crack. Also, plants, even though hardy will not survive in a container in the North. They would need to be moved into an unheated garage or basement. In Georgia the container and plant should survive most winters.

The False Cypress will eventually grow to about 8 feet tall, obviously too big for a container. Our guest has a special place for plants once they outgrow their containers. There is an island in front of the house that has been overgrown, with no particular landscaping plan. There is plenty of room there, it's an unsightly area, and new plants spruce up the front of the house. She also has a smaller spot next to the driveway for plants that have outgrown their home. In a way she's recycling plants.

Our guest shows us her smaller area and points out several favorites. Her philosophy is if she pulls it out of a container, for whatever reason, and it's alive, it gets another chance. There are herbs here. They oftentimes get leggy but are still healthy. One of her favorites is Tricolor Sage. She likes the plant, it's beautiful and she likes to cook with Sage. Another favorite is Coral Bells. It gets rather puny looking at the end of summer but then in the spring they bounce back, often better than ever. With Perennials as long as they stay small, they can be dug up, if you decide in a year or so to put them back in a container that will work.

Deer are quite a problem in this area and there are certain Perennials that are, hopefully, Deer resistant. The only sure way to keep Deer away from plants is to use an electrified fence. Remember that Deer, if hungry enough, will eat the bark from trees, they'll eat anything. There are some plants that Deer tend to avoid. Last year our host used Eucalyptus and Lavender which the Deer didn't bother. She wanted to try something different thus tried new plants this year. With Deer that is what you'll need to do, experiment with plants that work for you. Generally, Deer will stay away from plants with strong scents and strong flavors. This year She's tried Fern Leaf Yarrow, Moonshine. It will grow to about 1 or 2 feet tall and have some nice yellow flowers. Another plant in this container is Moonbeam Threadleaf Coreopsis, Moonbeam. It too will have yellow flowers. The low growing plant is Wine Periwinkle, Atropurpurea or Vinca. It is a great ground cover, they'll cascade over the edge of the container and fill out nicely. The last plant in this container is Ajuga, Bronze Beauty. It has beautiful blue flowers. These plants are in a plastic container. That is because it is far from the house, up a steep driveway and often forgotten when time to water. Plastic tends to hold water, thus perfect for this environment.

Perennials and Shrubs are great combinations in containers but they can be planted individually as well. We look at a large leafed Hosta, Francis Williams that has been planted in a beautiful glazed ceramic pot. We also look at a Holly, Berries Jubilee, that has been placed in a container. It has red berries summer, fall and often during the winter. Use a Cypress, Blue Sclarea, in a container by itself as well. These plants can grow well individually in containers and even though they may eventually outgrow the container, for a year of two they'll be beautiful and provide a unique look for your yard or garden.

There are deer not only in sunny spots of this house but in shady places as well. Our guest shows Charlie an empty container. Charlie figures it out, he was invited to help plant this container. This container is large with great drainage holes. Since we wouldn't want to fill the whole container, fill the bottom with empty soda cans. They take up space, don't compact, they're a good, lightweight way to take up space. Charlie uses a premium potting soil because it has good drainage and doesn't have insects. He presses the potting soil down a little, then starts placing plants. The question that needs answered is from which angle or view will this plant be viewed, from the front or the back? Since the most common view is from the house Charlie then places the taller plants in the back, away from the house, and the smaller plants in front, closer to the house. Place the plants so that the top of the plant is level with the top of the container. The first plant is a Helleborus, Lenten Rose. It has beautiful big leaves and will flower early in the season. The next plant is Lungwort or Pulmonaria, Bertram Anderson. It is a spring plant that stays close to the ground and will fill out the container nicely. The final plant is a Geranium, Black-Eyed Magenta Cranesbill. It will flower throughout the summer, will have beautiful pink flowers and is low growing. Once all the plants are in Charlie adds some time release fertilizer, waters it in and the plants will keep feeding throughout the summer.

Often time we'll have a shady spot, on a deck, under trees, wherever and we wonder what can we plant in this location? Perennials in the shade can create beautiful greenery and color, not just from their flowers but their leaves as well. Our guest host has some nice varieties in this container. The first is deer lettuce, Hosta. Hostas in the landscape are deer salads but on this deck it should be no problem. This one is beautiful and will have fragrant, flower spikes later in the Summer. Also in this shade container is a Fern, Autumn Fern. It's fronds are pretty and colorful. As well the difference in texture between the 2 plants is striking. It may be difficult but certainly not impossible to get color in shady places.

Abraham Hernandez is painting the plain garage door. The door needs some color, some accent to go with the beautiful surroundings, beautiful containers, the stacked stone of the house. The door just doesn't fit in. This door is a plastic coated aluminum door and Abraham will give it some old world charm. He starts by sanding, taping, priming, then painting, then finally some decorative painting. The sanding is just a light scuffing, a sander isn't needed. Abraham uses a sanding block , which could be found at any home improvement center. He then tapes surfaces he doesn't want to paint, windows, edges, etc. This also makes clean up at the end easier. Abraham then primes the door, then uses a gel stain which will give the crevices a wood grain look. He uses a China bristled brush for this. After that is done he will use a sealer to protect the finish. He has turned an ordinary white, plastic, aluminum door into a door with old world charm.

Another container has a Arborvitae, Teddy. It is really small, will grow to only 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide. It can be trimmed or not trimmed. Pink Poppet Weigela is also included in this container. It will grow to only about 2 feet tall. It is a repeat blooming shrub with a profusion of soft pink flowers. In front is a Spirea, Snowmound. It is a low growing shrub, has beautiful white flowers which can be cut and brought indoors and used in an arrangement. Rose Wine Meadow Sage is the final plant in this container. It has red flowers and a nice silver-gray foliage. All of these plants stay less than 2 feet tall so they're very nice in a container. They may only last a year or 2 in a container but then can be moved into the ground.

We next view a container with a vine planted last year. It is a Trumpet Vine, Balboa Sunset, and has really taken off. It has great red flowers that Hummingbirds love. This plant could get out of control, it tends to spread, it's invasive. It sends up suckers and they can take over a bed. Thus a container is a perfect spot, it's contained and it is relatively easy to control by cutting it back to the height you like. It forms flowers on new growth.

Charlie thanks our guest viewer for sharing her wonderful containers with all of us and she thanks Charlie for his great advice. Hopefully everyone has learned something from this experience.


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