Every year I am faced with the oh-so-dramatic container flower decisions. I like to call it the Annual Container Plant Choice Invitational. Much like I did as a teenager while trying to get up enough courage to jump off the high-dive; I will stand for hours at my local garden center with a look of terror on my face as I try to decide which plant is the perfect one to combine with the others. Inevitably it’s an impossible decision: What child are you going to plant? Who’s going to walk the plank? Which plant is going to be the best mixer at the container party?
In the end, my choices always come down to two determining questions:
1. Which plant is the easiest to care for?
2. What color combinations am I going with this year?
When I think of easy annuals to grow there are two spectacularly colorful plants that make my top-of-the-top favorite plant list: coleus and lantana. Each make an amazing splash in the Annual Container Plant Choice Invitational in either the sun or shade category. These plants are fantastic mixers and can function as a either a feature plant or a blender plant in an urban container, planting bed, or vertical wall garden. Both types of plants have multiple varieties and plenty of color selections for the casual gardener at your local garden center.
To the right you see Luscious Berry Blend Lantana rocking the socks off my full sun vegetable garden as a border plant. Lantana is a great sunny spot solution and is perfect for attracting butterflies. Below is a photo of the lantana layered in a gorgeous pink and green container display with multiple annuals.
Have a shady spot? There is nothing better than a coleus to brighten up a dark corner. At the top of this page is a magnificent vertical wall garden done up with Emotions Inspired Coleus and impatiens. Lantana mixes well with leafy vegetables in a mixed vegetable container as well as annual flowers. Below is an equally bold display of mixed variety coleus, impatiens, and sweet potato vine at a restaurant on an urban street.
Need a simple solution for your containers that will add a punch of color? Lantana and coleus are two great, easy-to-grow plants that mix well with most annuals in your container party.
Gatsby is out in the movie theaters and audiences everywhere have been wowed with the views of the astoundingly beautiful gardens in the show. This movie and its gorgeous garden-filled sets really speak to the classic book the movie is based on, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatsby makes a powerful statement about the roaring ‘20’s and how one bootlegger lives lavishly in a time when so many could not. Decadent living is out of reach for the average gardener as well. However, it is easy to have a garden that looks lavish, even if you do not have the cash on hand to build a Hollywood Movie Set in your front lawn.
The secret? Tropicals. I have been using tropicals for years to make a powerful color statement. Tropical plants are singularly the most decadent denizens in my Northern Zone 5b garden. They look rich and have an amazing power to be eye-catching in nearly every combination you can think of.
A few of my favorite tropicals are seen here in photos from my front lawn tropical garden. Combining giant Mega-Cabbage from Bonnie Plants with a creative selection of tropical cannas and elephant ear (colocasia) from Plants Nouveau resulted in a fantastic, rich, over-the-top tropical garden. In the photos for this garden bed you see Canna Maui Punch, Canna Orange Sparkler, Canna Blueberry Sparkler , and Colocasia Red-Eyed Gecko. Contrasting colors like chartreuse, purple, blue-gray, and orange make a fabulous eye-catching combination for a mixed annual and vegetable bed.
With their bold leaf colors and gorgeous flowers, tropical plants have a way of making any visitor to your garden smile and they combine well with perennials, annuals, or vegetables. Better yet, you can save money by over wintering the tropical plants from year to year. Remove them just before frost, cut off the tops of the plants (save the root system), store in the winter in a cool, dry location. Then plant again in the spring time in a soil rich with compost after all danger of frost is gone.
Build a Gatsby Garden and bring a beautiful and lavish look to your neighborhood this summer.
According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.
Big, blank, shady walls are bullies in my garden. Limited by no sun, dry conditions, and poor soil, my shady walls ogle my garden tools threateningly and push me around with that intimidating attitude all bullies have. I spend hours staring at an empty wall trying to come to terms with a sustainable solution that might work. Without a doubt, you have the same mean wall-bully hiding in your garden that hides in mine.
There’s only one way to fix a perplexing shady wall. In dealing with a wall-bully, one must cover it with a creative solution. A quick answer to that problem is to paint the wall, add several trellis’s all along the area, then plant a non-invasive shade climber at the base of a trellis, so the wall becomes less threatening and more appealing.
How To Say No To Bullies
My favorite wall-bully solution, however, is to recycle old rain gutters into a vertical wall of garden. Find both new and old gutters and downspouts online, at home salvage warehouses, or at your local hardware store. Screw the rain gutters into the wall. Be sure to screw into supports and joists whenever possible to give the wall garden extra support.
While you could hang the old gutters on a wall and place the soil and plants directly in the gutters, I adore the idea of using a repetitive color pattern as a bright pop on the wall. Here you see rows of preplanted Asparagus Fern sitting in bold orange containers within the gutters. Each container has its special spot on the recycled gutters that stretch nearly ten feet high up a tall shade-filled wall. If one of the plants dies, it is easy to replace the plant by simply adding another container, thereby making this technique an easy-to-manage solution.
Do not let shady wall-bullies push you around; get out there and discover a creative, sustainable, solution like recycled gutters to make that difficult wall into your best friend.