Container Garden

Whitney Curtis

Get The Look: An Outdoor Bar

Written on September 5, 2013 at 5:30 am , by

As soon as I spotted this outdoor entertaining space, I loved the DIY-able idea for an outdoor bar. You could use any type of cinderblock base and any pressure-treated wood that will withstand the elements. Grab a few colorful accessories, invite your friends over, serve some drinks and enjoy the arrival of fall! Here are a few items I rounded up to help you get this look!

outdoor bar get the look

I think a butcher block piece would look really great in this set-up. The sleek bar-height chairs give a great space for seating and chatting with guests as you serve up a drink. Don’t forget to finish the look with a few pretty containers and plants. (Ikea always has great, inexpensive options!) Shop for a few color coordinating pieces like a watering can or hand towel. Enjoy!

outdoor bar get the look

 

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BHG Guest Blogger

Small Garden Design Strategies – Keeping Color in Check

Written on June 14, 2013 at 11:00 am , by

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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Katie Ketelsen

Take a Garden Risk! Three Flower Projects to Try This Year

Written on May 29, 2013 at 8:00 am , by

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?


Justin W. Hancock

Hot and Sunny

Written on June 11, 2012 at 5:03 am , by

It was a hot, sunny weekend and Sunday was particularly breezy here in Des Moines. While the breeze was nice for me to keep that warm air moving, it was really tough on plants — especially containers, which seemed to dry out immediately after watering them.

If watering is the toughest part of keeping your containers looking good, try these tips:

  • Mulch. Adding an inch or two of mulch (such as shredded bark or cocoa hulls) over the top of the potting mix will help conserve moisture.
  • Don’t Overplant. It’s easy to pack your container garden full of little plants — but keep in mind that as the plants grow, they need more moisture. The fewer plants you have (or the bigger the pot), the less often you’ll need to water.
  • Choose the Right Plants. Varieties, such as angelonia, lantana, euphorbia, and cosmos hold up to heat and drought better than calibrachoa, petunia, lobelia, bacopa, and impatiens.
  • Provide Shade. If your containers sit in the blazing sun and they’re not too heavy to move, getting them out of direct light during the hottest part of the day will help keep the plants cooler and moister.
  • Soak Your Pots. If the potting mix does completely dry out, soak it in a tub of water to help rehydrate it. Most mixes hold water well when they’re moist, but have a hard time soaking up moisture if they dry out. If you water and the mix is too dry, the water will run right down the sides of the pot and out the holes instead of being absorbed.
  • Cut Back on the Fertilizer. If the weather forecasts an especially hot week, withholding the fertilizer that week can actually help your plants. Fertilizer pushes lots of growth; the more plants grow, the more water they need. Letting them slow down during hot spells means they’ll use less water.

 


Justin W. Hancock

Plant Perennials in Containers

Written on May 29, 2012 at 6:15 am , by

I hear from lots of readers who want their container gardens to look a little different than the norm. Petunias and geraniums are fine, they tell me, but this year they want something a little “more than fine.”

One way to do this is to look beyond the usual plant palette of annuals and consider perennials. They’re more expensive up front but what many gardeners don’t realize is that you can pull them out of your containers at the end of the season and plant them in your garden. That way you can enjoy that same perennial for years to come. The example shown here uses columbine to wonderful effect with petunias, dianthus, euphorbia, and bacopa.

Some of my favorite perennials to use in containers include:

Coralbells: Their colorful foliage is a showstopper from spring to fall and are perfect for partly shaded situations. Dark-leaf varieties such as ‘Mocha’ are fun alternatives for sweet potato vine and won’t overgrow the space. (Get the same effect from chartreuse varieties, such as ‘Citronelle’.)

Ajuga: Another type with fun foliage for the shade, ajuga bears great foliage and creeps over the container, covering the soil and softly spilling over the container edges. ‘Burgundy Glow’ is a particular favorite; the leaves are variegated with silver, white, and purple.

Switchgrass: Varieties such as ‘Northwind’ offer fantastic upright structure in containers. They offer a very contemporary feel and are fun alternatives to cannas.

Blanketflower: This native prairie plant doesn’t mind it hot and dry, and blooms on and off all summer with yellow, orange, or red flowers. It’s a prime pick for attracting butterflies!


Justin W. Hancock

Strength in Numbers

Written on May 16, 2012 at 5:32 am , by

Driving around town I see a lot of homes that decorate their front steps with a pair of lovely container gardens. It’s a classic look, but if you would like to amp it up a notch, try a group of containers.

While the example shown here is a little over the top, it may be easy to imagine how two groups of three containers flanking your door brings on more impact than just two pots — especially if you use containers of different sizes to add varying heights.

One lesson I do really like in this example, though, is the study in contrasts. You have rich dark foliage from Alternantera ‘Black Varnish’ with black mondo grass artfully playing off yellow calibrachoa and lantana (and the gold in the edges of the coleus in the background). The shades of lavender and blue from calibrachoa, verbena, and scaevola offer a contrast, too.

Another way to make it extra special? Add sweet scents from plants such as heliotrope, lemon verbena, and stock.