Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


Cocktail Herb Garden Patio Tile View Shawna Coronado

This year I expanded my front patio to include sedum lined tiles, more space for seating, and a cocktail herb garden. This spot is a delicious smelling niche that has become the focus of outdoor room entertaining in my front garden.  Many of my friends and family discover birds and other pollinators like bees and butterflies flitting all around the herbs while we are out on the front patio spending time together.The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Inspired by Amy Stewart’s latest book, The Drunken Botanist, this garden design was intended to be a relaxing place that bathes you in delightful scents as you sip herbal cocktails and watch the wildlife. Pollinators love the plants that surround the patio. I planted basil, thyme, and plants from The Drunken Botanist plant collection such as, the “Old Tom Gin Garden” and the “Old Havana Rum Garden”. Sitting out front has become an amazing experience because of the bees and butterflies that dance through the herb garden as much as for the delicious herbal cocktails.

Bird watching is a part of this experience as well. We have a wonderful little hummingbird that flies in and out of the hostas and herbs. She loves the sage flowers, bee balm, cat mint, and my little red hummingbird feeder. I keep it stocked up with nectar just for her so she can entertain us with her antics.

Building an herbal garden with the goal of attracting the birds and bees and a few dozen cocktail aficionados could be just the fantastic late summer project you need to end your summer with a garden bang. Plan the lay-out, amend the soil, and then toss in a few perennial herbs such as lemon thyme, tricolor sage, and lavender. You can enjoy the herbs this fall and be surprised by new growth in the early spring for the first outdoor garden cocktail parties of the season.

Herbal Cocktail Garden Patio Shawna Coronado

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Succulent plants in a container from Shawna Coronado

Want container gardens without the pain of regular watering? Planting succulents in creative container gardens usually means you water less, but still have all the beauty of gorgeous plants on your patio or balcony. In the photo right I have combined three succulents in individual pots (Rainbow Bush – Variegated Elephant Plant, Coppertone Stonecrop, and Jet Beads Stonecrop). Top photo shows several succulents within a single container (Ghost Plant, Paddle Plant, and Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’).

Succulents in containers at Shawna Coronado garden.

Top 3 Tips for Growing Succulents

1. Use a loose soil that drains freely. Too much water is the curse of death for a succulent. Buy commercial succulent and cactus soil or make your own using 1/3 course sand, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 grit (usually a mix of lava fines, pumice, and/or perlite).

2. Position succulent containers in bright growing conditions or in direct full sunlight.

3. Never let water stand in a succulent container and feed with an organic cactus fertilizer.

Ideas for Standard Containers

What about the standard containers you have out now? Perhaps the hot late August weather is encouraging them to dry out a bit. I have an awesome solution: Plant Nanny’s!

Plant Nanny’s are glass watering globes that help you water without constant hovering over your containers. Insert the Plant Nanny stake into moist soil, then fill the watering globe and place into the stake. When the water gets low, you know you need to water again.

Both ideas above offer great late summer time saving ideas for containers. All the beauty with far less watering worries!

Plant Nanny in Shawna Coronado garden.

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

succulent containers

Succulents are hot. And for good reason. They take almost no maintenance, and they’re gorgeous! The images in today’s post are from a recent photo shoot on planting succulent container gardens, which will appear in an upcoming book.

I love the color and texture combinations in the mix at left, which includes a blooming Sedum cauticola Cola Cola, pink-tipped Violet Queen echeveria, purple-edged Gremlin kalanchoe, purple-striped Echeveria nodulosa, Aloe dorotheae Sunset, and Jitters jade plant.

Scroll down to see several other combinations that we shot that day. Which is your favorite? I have a hard time choosing just one.

A trio of succulent containers, including Aloe vera in the blue crate, echeveria in the round brown pot, and various cacti and Sedum nussbaumerianum in a square brown container.

A resin fountain converted into a succulent trough garden

An armillary filled with hens and chicks (Sempervivums)

proven winners at the del

The Hotel Del Coronado as seen from the beach

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days at the Hotel del Coronado in the San Diego area, courtesy of the hotel and Proven Winners. The historic hotel, which fans of Marilyn Monroe will recognize as one of the settings for the movie ‘Some Like It Hot’, has recently undergone a landscape renovation featuring Proven Winners plants planted and maintained by the Brickman Group landscape maintenance firm.

The results are spectacular. Bold colors from annuals, perennials, and succulents in landscape beds, hanging baskets, and raised planters throughout the hotel grounds provide a welcome change from customary humdrum hotel landscapes consisting of sheared shrubs with a few token splashes of color.

The new gardens are an extension of the hotel’s original enclosed courtyard patio garden and existing sustainable vegetable and herb garden, which provided some of the delicious food we enjoyed at elegant dinners and receptions. Labels throughout the gardens identify the plants so that visitors can duplicate their favorite plant combinations in their own gardens.

You can see some a few of the plant combinations below. If more commercial landscapes and public spaces would follow the lead of the Hotel del Coronado, I believe that more homeowners would be inspired to upgrade their home landscapes and everyone would benefit from the greater beauty and diversity afforded by such plantings. As you can see from these photos, you can start small, and still pack a punch with a few well-placed plants.

View of the herb garden from the balcony of my room

Hanging baskets with Lucia Dark Blue lobelia, Supertunia Giant Pink petunia, Snow Princess alyssum, and Superbells Yellow Chiffon calibrachoa

Succulent bed with Lemon Coral Sedum rupestre, Zorro Echeveria, Maraca Portulaca molokiniensis, Tiptop Aeonium arborescens, and Topsy Turvy Echeveria runyonii

Campfire Crassula coccinea glows with color in this beachfront planting.

Planting bed combination of Supertunia Sangria Charm, Supertunia Vista Bubblegum, Lucia Dark Blue lobelia, and Blue Mohawk Juncus effusus

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