Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

Plants

The following is a guest blog post from Susan Morrison, a Northern California landscape designer and blogger. 

 

Small gardens offer many advantages over their larger cousins—less weeding comes to mind—but having less space to work with brings a unique set of challenges. If you’re a plant and accessories lover, you might be torn between the desire to cram in every bright bloom or vivid pot that catches your eye, and the knowledge that too many competing colors can lead to chaos. With a little planning, however, a small garden can be colorful without being overwhelming.

Plan for container colors in advance

When Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist, asked for my help designing a new cocktail garden for her narrow side yard, I knew we’d be relying heavily on containers. To satisfy Amy’s desire for bold color, we chose a palette of rich blues anchored by deep purple on one end and lime green on the other – before purchasing anything. Instead of endless days spent shopping in an effort to find containers that conformed to her swatches, Amy asked a local handyman to build them to her specifications out of unfinished wood—then painted them herself. (You can also find unfinished wood containers online.) If choosing a color palette seems daunting, sites like Adobe Kuler provide a range of color palettes, and a menu of easy-to-use tools that allow you to experiment with an infinite number of combinations, while still ensuring your ultimate choices will coordinate.

Build your beds around pastel blooms

When it comes to flower color, an exclusive palette of pastel blooms will blend together much more harmoniously than one that mixes soft colors with bold ones. Pastel shades always combine well with one another, no matter how many different flowers you include. As the speaker at a recent talk on color that I attended explained it: if you washed all your clothes 200 times, they would eventually fade to the point where you could wear anything with anything. Sticking to the paler shades found in the innermost circle of the color wheel is a great strategy for impulse shoppers, as it gives you a substantial number of plants to choose from, with no need to worry that the ultimate effect will overpower the garden.

Keep accessories and plants cohesive

On the other hand, if you’re the type who wouldn’t be caught dead planting pale pink anything, it’s possible to make a bold design statement without sacrificing harmony. Once you’ve chosen the colors that speak to you, the secret is to repeat them everywhere, including accessories like furniture, containers and artwork.

Artist and garden designer Keeyla Meadows is not the type to shy away from splashy shades. Sizzling reds, bright oranges and shocking pinks dominate in her small, sunny garden, but by pulling these colors through in her handmade benches and containers, the end result is harmonious.

In their small, showcase water garden, Potomac Waterworks choose only two high-contrast colors, red and chartreuse, then repeated them not only in a range of foliage plants, but in the accessories and artwork as well. The ultimate effect is a garden that is simultaneously energizing and restful.

Whether your style is softly romantic or outspokenly edgy, stick to a few simple color strategies for a garden that reflects the real you—without sacrificing harmony.

 

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Susan Morrison is a Northern California landscape designer with Creative Exteriors Landscape Design,  blogger at Blue Planet Garden Blog and the co-author of Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces, an Amazon “Best Books of 2011” selection.

Susan knows first-hand the challenges and rewards of gardening in a small space. Her own 18 by 50 foot back yard serves as her laboratory for fresh ideas, and is the inspiration for her iTunes garden app Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens.
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The following is a guest blog post from Angela Treadwell-Palmer, Co-owner of Plants Nouveau and involved with a variety of garden programs. 

 

If you’re like me, you’ve tried all of the repeat flowering hydrangeas on the market.  I hope you haven’t been as disappointed as I have. Yes, they bloom all summer, but it’s a bloom here, a bloom there, and the plant is never completely covered in blooms, right?  Right!  Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hokomarevo’ Everlasting™ Revolution is a game changer.

Not only does Revolution flower on new and old wood, making it sure to bloom for everyone, but the pink or blue (depending on the acidity of your garden soil) flowers fade to magical color combinations of deep rusty-pink and olive green, maroon and true blue, and even aqua and lime green. As the long summer days fade, each aging flower adds even deeper green highlights, extending the color in your garden well into the autumn.

This attractive, continuously blooming hydrangea not only has gorgeous, strong, long-lasting flowers, it’s a blooming machine. This might be the first super successful gift-to-garden plant.  Here’s how it works; you buy it in full bloom for mom for mother’s day or Easter and enjoy it indoors for a month, then you can safely plant it in the garden and watch it bloom and grow for years and years – even in the colder regions of the US (USDA Zone 5)! Not many hydrangeas sold as gift plants are tough enough to be planted outside.

Wait – there’s more.

No house yet or no room to garden?  Only have space for containers on your porch or patio?  This amazing hydrangea will even survive outside in a large, freeze-proof container in many areas.  Just give it a little water once in a while and let it sleep all winter.  And since it grows to only 30” tall by 30” wide, you won’t need a big space or a big container.  Its petite size is perfect for small, urban spaces, porches and patios.  If you grew up with a Cape Cod-like cottage garden, but don’t have the space for larger mop head hydrangeas, this is the plant for you.  All the color, all the nostalgia of grandma’s garden, cut flowers for the table and the perfect little garden plant all in one, who could ask for more?

Why buy a reblooming hydrangea when you can have an, Everlasting™ blooming machine?

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Angela’s career has spanned almost every aspect of gardening, garden design and teaching folks how to garden with plants – especially natives. She most recently managed the development of new gardens for the U.S. National Arboretum.  Angela managed new plant introduction and marketing for the Chicago Botanic Garden and The Conard-Pyle Co.  She has designed and installed many private gardens throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Angela founded and now Co-owns Plants Nouveau LLC; a company that specializes in introducing and marketing new plants to the nursery industry.  She’s been directing the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference at Millersville University for the past eleven years.  Angela’s career has taken her around the world, experiencing world famous gardens and remote areas looking for new ideas and exciting plants.
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The following is a guest blog post from Briana Johnson, Marketing Communications Specialist for Garden Debut® and Greenleaf Nursery.

 

When shopping for my first home, I had grand illusions of the gardening space I’d have available. I vastly underestimated the cost and maintenance associated with a landscape that rivaled the local botanical gardens. Thankfully, I came to my senses before I purchased and made a realistic choice in terms of lot size. My small in-town neighborhood lot isn’t quite the ultimate of small space gardening that an apartment balcony or a townhouse patio constrains you to, but even suburban gardeners have small space gardening dilemmas.

My first dilemma was porch height. I purchased my house for its beautifully large, covered front porch. I’d again had grand illusions of a gorgeous, raised, wrap-around porch, and while my porch is large, it is a scant 6 inches from the ground to the threshold. When it came to selecting plants for the mixed beds in front of said porch, I knew a 6 to 8 foot shrub would debilitate my views from the porch swing, so I set a 3 to 4 foot height limit on my plant selections.

New plant breeding, such as that done by crapemyrtle enthusiast Dow Whiting, is often aimed at introducing smaller more compact versions of a garden favorite. Dow’s four varieties of Princess Crapemyrtles, introduced by the Garden Debut® collection, range in size from 18 to 48 inches tall by 30 to 36 inches wide, fitting perfectly within my range of selections. Not to mention they offer another feature every gardener loves: an extended bloom season from midsummer to fall that is improved by deadheading spent flowers.

The largest of the collection, Princess Holly Ann™, produces cherry red clusters of flowers and matures at 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Princess Zoey™ has two-toned blooms that emerge cherry red with splashes of hot pink, and it also grows to 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide. These two crapemyrtles are perfect choices for the back row of a mixed garden bed and can be under-planted with a variety of small shrubs and perennials.

The two smaller varieties also work well as a mid-level mixed garden bed selection. Mounding Princess Kylie™ has brilliant magenta flowers and grows 3 feet tall and wide, and tiny Princess Lyla™ matures at 18 to 24 inches tall and wide with light pink flowers. Their mounded shapes also look great in a cluster of mixed containers around a porch or patio sitting area where the delicate flowers can be observed closely.

I’ve found that with new breeding programs and new introductions each year from collections such as Garden Debut®, gardeners can expect solutions to a variety of gardening dilemmas, not just space limitations. Visit www.gardendebut.com to view the collection or call 1 (877) 663-5053 for questions.

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Briana Johnson is the Marketing Communications Specialist for Garden Debut® and Greenleaf Nursery in Park Hill, Oklahoma. She is a first-time homeowner and amateur gardener with big ideas for her new landscape.

Briana relies on Great New Plants™ and Trusted Selections™ from the Garden Debut® collection to create a home where she can connect, share, enjoy and inspire. Discuss new and exciting features about these plants with Briana each day by following Garden Debut® on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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Lady Fern and Halcyon Hosta

When I was young I loved visiting my grandmother’s shady perennial beds in central Indiana. They were filled with every leafy shape the mind could imagine, yet rarely a flower could be found. My grandmother taught me that there are other beautiful options that can bring just as much joy to your gardening heart. Both foliage and decorative glass offer colorful alternatives to the traditional blooming beds and I use them as much as I can in my own garden.

Foliage

Planning your foliage garden well means your garden can stay beautiful year round without flowers. Mixing leaf structures and plant heights adds interest. At the top you see Fern ‘lady fern’ mixed with Hosta ‘halcyon’ in my side garden at home. I love the blue of the hosta because it contrasts marvelously with the bright green of the soft, feathery-leaved ferns.

A favorite combination is to mix some coleus love into my shade vegetable containers. Lacinto Kale from Bonnie Plants and Coleus from Hort Couture’s ‘Under the Sea’ line make a fabulous color splash together. No flowers can be seen, but the foliage color is astounding and really adds to a shade patio container arrangement (see below).

Lacinto Kale with Coleus

Heuchera and Hosta

Mixing Heuchera and Hosta together can be a brilliant foliage combination. In the garden bed above you see a random bed plan of Heuchera ‘snow angel’ and Heuchera ‘beaujolais’ mixed with Hosta ‘krossa regal’, Hosta ‘gold standard’, and Hosta ‘half and half’.

wine bottle border

Glass

Bottle Tree along pathWant to keep your perennials in place while adding color and interest with glass? Bring whimsical glass accessories in to the garden beds. I have endless wine bottle paths (photo above) draped with ground cover and a fantastic bottle tree (photo right) I found at Carolee’s Herb Farm, a favorite stop whenever I am in central Indiana.

Bottle trees are a remarkably cool folk art brought from Africa and the Middle East centuries ago and were originally used to capture bad spirits. Now they capture color and light and bring a bit of joy to my suburban shade garden.

Below are two books I recommend to help you study up on filling your garden with color not found in a flower; Fine Foliage by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz is a delightful full color book which brings wonderful ideas for foliage color combinations, and Bottle trees.. and the Whimsical Art of Garden Glass by Felder Rushing is an outstanding full color celebration of creative glass-in-the-garden creations.

Bottle Trees Book and Fine Foliage Book

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


The following is a guest blog post from Kathleen Hennessy.

 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, average lot sizes in the U.S. are getting smaller and that means less space for landscaping. As a result, many plant breeders are working to create smaller, more compact shrubs for homeowners.

That breeding work is developing great new varieties that create big impact without taking up a lot of space in your yard.

Bailey Nurseries, the company that brings you Endless Summer® Hydrangeas, Easy Elegance® Roses and the First Editions® new plants brand, has several new varieties that fit. “These shrubs pair low maintenance with great color, all wrapped up in a smaller package,” says Natalia Hamill Brand and Business Development Manager at Bailey’s. “Best of all, they’re really easy to grow.”


First Editions® Little Devil ninebark is the perfect example of smaller size shrub creating a big statement. Typical ninebark varieties can reach 6- to 10-feet tall. Little Devil tops out at just four feet. It offers all the great attributes of ninebark including beautiful burgundy foliage and white-pink flowers in June.


Little Devil is easy to grow and needs little pruning. Its compact size makes it the perfect fit for any landscape. I love Little Devil in containers too. Little Devil can be grown in Zones 3-7.


The First Editions® Magic crape myrtle series offers great disease resistance and richer colors. Midnight Magic blooms with stunning, dark pink flowers backed by deep purple foliage. It’s more compact, growing from only 4- to 6-feet, and keeps a nice rounded shape in Zones 6-9.

For Southern gardeners, Zones 7-9, First Editions® Crimson Fire fringe flower is a small space star.  Neon-pink flowers cover the plant in spring, while the deep, ruby foliage adds interest all season long.

Its compact, low spreading form makes it a great foundation plant. Since it only grows 2- to 3-feet in height and width, it’s also a stunning in a container.

For more info, visit FirstEditionsNewPlants.com.

 

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Kathleen Hennessy has been writing on gardening and DIY topics for more than 15 years. You can read more about her Zone 3 and Zone 4 gardening challenges in her blog at 29minutegardener.com, or follow her on Twitter @29mingardener.
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I’m generally a shoot-from-the-hip kind of gal in the garden.

I’ll pack plants in a container tighter than I probably should.

I’ll plant spring-blooming bulbs in spring knowing they should have been dug-in before November.

I’ll even let my 15 month old son do the planting. (You’ll notice the proper positioning of the bulbs — right?)

I’ll buy flowering poppy on complete impulse, in the middle of February……

knowing full well I’ll be lucky to keep it alive until May. (But really, how could you not take this guy home?!?)

 

All while thinking to myself: “Do as I say people, not as I do!”

Every year is a new experiment in my garden. But if you’re looking to try something new in your garden, but maybe not as risky as I have been, here are three tried-and-try projects you should consider:

1. Add more blooms to your front yard.

Admittedly, I love the feel and smell of fresh-cut grass, but secretly long for an ever-blooming front yard. I’m already thinking of how to carve out a few more flower beds in my landscape. If you’re a busy bee like me, worried about keeping the new plants watered, don’t pull the entire lawn up in one season. Work your way to the edges.

 

2. Plant a cut-flower garden for fresh bouquets all year round.
 

Another baby-stepping-project in my landscape is to slowly add more flowers for fresh bouquets all summer long. This is just a no-brainer for me. I love flowers. I love bouquets. I love to save money.

 

3. Beckon the butterflies, birds and hummingbirds.

This is definitely on my to-do list this year. I’ve installed fragrant plants such as butterfly bush, lantana and verbena to help lure the butterflies and hummingbirds. This is an easy project even if you don’t have a yard, use containers!

Another project I’m attempting this year is to plant vegetables among my perennials and shrubs. I know this isn’t a new trend, but it’s new to me and am very anxious to pluck fresh green beans!

What are you trying for the first time in your garden this year?


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