Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Succulents -- Beautiful and Easy

Okay, I know these aren't City containers but I had to share them with you so that you might consider using succulents in your own containers.  Wish I could use more in the City pots but besides the fact that they are a little too fragile to be left at the mercy of the many visitors who would be oh so tempted to touch them, it would be too much to ask for their watering needs to be the "exception".  But that is the best reason for you to use succulents in either your garden or containers -- they don't want, need or like a lot of water.  In fact, the thicker the leaves, the less water the plant needs to survive.  

There are so many different succulents from which to choose that you will feel like a kid in a candy store when you get started using them.  Naturally, I have my favorites.  Check out this container....



The tub I used is from Tractor Supply -- love the silvery look that picks up on the light gray of the Kalanchoe tomentosa - Panda Plant.  It is such an easy plant to grow and perfect for kids to start with in their little gardens.  Isn't cold hardy here in Madison but I have left mine outside until the temperatures got into the low 20s and it was fine.  I'll bring it indoors for the worst part of our winters.  It propagates so easily -- even if you lay a piece on top of the soil it will send out roots.  The other plants in this containers are sedum, sempervivum and echeveria.



This echeveria is one of my favorites called 'Black Prince'.  The color is so intense that it can be the star in any combination container and looks wonderful alone in a low bowl.  



Tucked under the kalanchoe is Sempervivum 'Red Rubin' and behind that is Sedum 'Red Dragon'.   Way in the back is Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy'... it has a soft blue leaf that echoes the kalanchoe.  



I love this one!!!  Sometimes you just get all the right components together in the perfect pot.  That big guy in the back is another kalanchoe -- yep, they look different.  This one is 'Flapjack'.  The more sun it gets the brighter the red edges are.  It is another one of those that can take some cold temperatures before you have to bring it inside.  This one sat in my garage without sun or water for several months before it went back outside -- lost a few leaves but it bounced right back.  

If you aren't using succulents, plan on using them next season.  There are lots of cold hardy ones available if you don't want to baby them through the winter months.  Just be sure to provide excellent drainage -- mix lots of grit into your soil; and don't over water them.  Less is better.  A slightly shriveled leaf will bounce back nicely after it gets a drink.  And the last bit of info is to use pebbles as a mulch -- it will keep the moisture away from the leaves so they don't rot.  Other than that, it can't get any easier and with such wonderful rewards.  Enjoy!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Pushy Petunias

Pushy Petunias!!  How could I say that about my favorite, most reliable petunia?  I mean it in the kindest way.  Petunia Easy Wave 'Misty Lilac' has proven itself to me over and over.  This season is no different.  While many other petunias have hit the market with their flashy colors or unique names, Misty Lilac just continues to outperform all of them.  And don't be swayed by its generic soft pink color.  This gal coordinates with so many different color combinations.  Admittedly there are lots of individual plants in this container, but it is a giant of a pot and needed lots of stuff to fill the space.


This is very early in the season before Misty Lilac even got going.  I have had to prune it back several times since to keep it full at the top.  Petunias tend to sprawl, leaving the middle open with few flowers.  But if you clip some (about 1/4) of the trailers back to the middle every couple weeks, it will stay full.  But....most important of all....you MUST feed these guys at least once a week with a liquid fertilizer.  Even Misty Lilac likes her "drink".  

If you are wondering what is in the background, that is the companion pot that has a grass in the center - a panicum for sure but I don't know the cultivar since I didn't plant it.  Around it are/were white petunias and pink verbena.  I say "are/were" because this side of the container did not get watered properly and the plants all died so I had to replace with what I had around.  Oh well.....


In the center of this container is a juniper communis called "Gold Cone".  It will only get about 5 feet tall by 2 feet wide.  We'll see how long it stays in this container.  Around the base of it is Sage Bergarteen which will eventually get full and much taller as the season goes along.  I'll keep you posted on how this one evolves.  


Here is another container with Misty Lilac -- it has Angelonia 'Serena White' between it and the Centaurea 'Colchester White' in the middle.  One thing I need to mention is turning the pots.  All of these are round pots sitting in the square outer containers and every several weeks I (and a wonderful young man named Jack) give them a 180 degree turn to allow for all sides to get sun.  Otherwise the "dark side" gets skimpy.  So if you can, turn yours to be sure the plants get an equal opportunity to grow to their max.  

Misty Lilac should be easy enough to find at most garden centers since it has been around so long and has become a staple.  If you don't see it, ask for it.  May not get it that season but the nursery should be able to bring it in for the next one.  Try it....you'll like it!!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Vibrant Vincas -- And Their Friend Angelonia

The last check on the containers showed that the vincas were doing great.  Most folks know about vincas -- those tough summer annuals that can withstand all the heat and drought you can throw at them.  In fact, they don't really strut their stuff until it is hot.  So anyway, I had to share with you what the containers around the Town Park look like after two months of growth.  

For the center piece I had left the Rosemary 'Barbeque' from the winter arrangements.  Unfortunately, not all of them put out new growth in the spring so you'll see a few brown branches and skimpy growth, but please look past that. Normally this variety of rosemary will nearly take over a spot, turning into a small shrub, so I'm not sure why some of these decided not to play with their friends this year. 

But let's check out some of my favorite vinca colors.


The variety that I used -- and always use -- is the Cora series.  They have proven themselves over the years to be strong, disease resistant and to produce mountains of blooms.  One thing I can say about the producers of the Cora series is that they didn't spend much time naming these guys.  This one is Vinca Cora 'Pink'.  Makes it pretty easy to ask for it at your local nursery.

Notice also that in every container I used Angelonia Serena 'White' or 'Purple' for a contrasting color and to bridge the area between the vinca and the rosemary.  If you haven't used angelonia in your containers or your beds, you have been missing out on another outstanding performer.  You will get continuous blooms all summer with little or no pest or disease problems.

This next variety of vinca is one of my favorites this year....Vinca Cora 'Apricot'.  It has such a fresh look to it.


It looks so good paired with the purple angelonia.  I plan to use this one in more containers next season.


There are eight containers around the Park so I used four different colors of vinca and mixed them with either the white or purple angelonia.  Unfortunately, I didn't seem to get a picture of Vinca Cora 'Burgundy' yet.  But imagine if you will a very deep version of the 'Pink' variety.  It looks great with the white angelonia.

Speaking of white....here is Vinca Cora 'White' mixed with Angelonia Serena 'Purple'.  This combination has a really crisp, neat look to it.


There are other combinations around town using Cora vincas but these are the most concentrated and easiest to find.  

You probably won't find the Cora series at the box stores but you will likely find them at the independent stores.  For locals, you can always be sure to find them at Thomas Orchards Greenhouse & Nursery in Watkinsville.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Frucrea -- A Really Cool Plant

Frucrea -- weird name, hard to spell and not so easy to say, but I love this plant.  Its full name is Frucrea foetida mediopicta.  It looks like a classy "mother-in-law's tongue" or sanservia.  The leaves are stiff like the MIL Tongue but the color variations are so much brighter and defined.  It comes from the agave family but this particular variety doesn't have the sharp spines and extremely stiff blades as the others in the same grouping.     Here in zone 8 we still have to treat it as a houseplant in the winter, although my friend Barbie has kept hers outside in a pot through the winter.  The outer leaves do get burned but they peel off easily and the new growth comes in nicely to fill out the plant.  She also has lots of little "pups" coming up around the edges.  Take a look at it....



This plant is in Barbie's yard but I wanted you to see it alone to get an idea of the shape and also the good coloration.

Here it is in Container No. 16 on Main and Washington....



......nicely nestled in among two Kimberly ferns, two White Christmas caladiums and a scattering of Kauai White torenia.  Barbie gets maximum growth on her plant by feeding it "blue water" a few times a week, although the writeups say that it does not need much fertilizer.  Her plant is also in full sun while this one gets morning sun and late day shade.  It will be interesting to see how they both do.

Haven't decided if this one will stay through the winter in the city container.  The micro climate on Main Street is warmer -- lots of heat from the passing vehicles -- so it might do as well as the Blue Crisp Fern that is across the street.  The fern lived happily with its companion heuchera through the winter of 2012 and come spring they both flushed out with lots of new growth.  

But at any rate, I think it makes a neat summer container plant and would be happy indoors in a bright window, waiting to come back out next year.  And you guessed it -- not easy to find but worth the search.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Containers Are Lush

I have been away too long my friends and I apologize for that.  There was much to do in my own house as I found my way in life as "one" and no longer as part of a "couple".  Then it was time to install the summer plants in the containers.  Sage advice to all -- never take anyone for granted.  It took reinventing the process to get all the plants in by myself, but they are in and, with the rain and cooler temperatures, they are thriving.  So where to start....

Well, first to tell you that the Google map has been updated with the names of the new plants, so you can check there if you want container specifics.  All the containers have their brass numbered tags on the sidewalk side of the box to make the connection.  Couldn't be easier.  So let's look at some of the goodies that are out there.  

Container 9 which sits in front of the Post Office is bursting at the seams.  Sure gets a lot of attention from folks doing their mail thing.


The coleus in the center is one of my tried and true friends -- 'Indian Summer' -- which takes on a different hue in sun or shade.  This one is in full sun.  Surrounding it is Angelonia Serena Purple; and around that is a new little petunia called 'Lemon Glow' which has a lemony center with a soft pink edge.  I didn't think it could keep up with the other petunia Supertunia Vista 'Silverberry', but it has done well.  'Silverberry' needs frequent haircuts to keep it from spilling too far over the edge and allow it to bush out more.  This next picture gives you a closer view of the flowers.


This next container could be my favorite this year.  I like its look but the real test is how well it will perform throughout the year.  So far, everyone in the pot is playing nice with each other.  Take particular notice of the coleus --- 'Chocolate Covered Cherries' -- is that a neat name or what?


The autumn fern was part of the winter arrangement and stayed on for the summer -- love, love, love that fern.  Around the fern is 'Babywing White Bronze Leaf Begonia' -- new for this year; below that is Lysimachia 'Sundew Springs'.   Here is another view of this container....


And a close up of the coleus....


This photo isn't doing justice to the rich, deep colors of the plant.  Oh, by the way, this is Container 35, which gets morning sun and late day shade.  

There is more to share but I can see from the review of my photos I need to get back out there and capture some of the others in their prime.  Be back soon.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Heuchers In Their Spring Finery

I have been super busy either buying plants for the containers or changing out the plants in the containers.  So naturally some things got neglected....like the blog...again.  But while I was putting some White Queen caladiums in the Welcome Center garden I saw how beautiful the heucheras were that had been planted last season, so I had to share some pictures.  The new growth is so fresh and colorful now.  This is truly why we buy these coral bells -- just to be awed by the bright colors and their perky attitude.  



This little lovely is called Heuchera x villosa 'Georgia Peach'. The "peachy" aspect isn't coming through the photo as well as in real life, but trust me...it is an eye catcher.  The large bright peach leaves turn to rose in summer and rose-purple by fall with a silver-white veil.  Grows 14" tall by 24" wide.



Probably should have focused more on the leaf in the background where you can see the peach color better...oh well.

This one will come through better....Heucherella 'Alabama Sunrise'.   



This has bright, golden-yellow, deeply cut leaves with bold, dark red markings, small white flowers and a mounding habit.  Gets 10" tall and 15" wide.  

And then there is.....



Heuchera x villosa 'Pistache'....it is absolutely glowing in the garden.  Looks so good below the hydrangea that has a lime green vein right now.  Any of the villosa varieties are strong plants so you can't go wrong choosing one of them, but 'Pistache' can't be beat for the intensity of its color.  The large leaves vary from lime green to chartreuse-yellow, depending on light exposure.  It gets 10" tall and 14" wide.  

I saw a couple new ones at the nursery that were calling me to take them home.  A must have is called 'Buttered Rum' -- a soft orange coloring that is so much better than 'Caramel'. When I get it in the ground I'll be sure to share the photo with you.  Well, back to planting!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Awesome Scent of Zephirine Drouhin

I went by the Welcome Center garden this week to see how things looked and what spring cleaning needed to be done.  Before I had a chance to walk through the gate I was welcomed by the soft lemony scent of the rose on the trellis. My all time favorite climbing rose, Zephirine Drouhin, was in full bloom and the air was filled with its lovely fragrance.  This is the second year for the rose and it has finally taken off and is winding its way around that stately black trellis.  With a little more TLC and regular fertilizing I expect it to completely cover the area by next year.  


This is a spring bloomer but very often, if it is really happy, it will repeat bloom throughout the summer.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.


The individual blooms are almost like clusters of satin and I only wish there was some way to convey through the computer the delicious fragrance it gives off.  Guess you'll have to make a trip to the garden --- hurry though -- this won't last forever.

I don't want to slight my other favorite rose.  'Old Blush' is doing its thing right now also.  You might have to lean in to the bloom to get all of its glory since Zephirine is stealing the show right now, but it is worth the stop.


Both of these roses are old timey plants that have been in gardens for many years.  Isn't it nice that valued plants have withstood the battle of all the new cultivars.  New is good, but some times old feels even better....lots more memories for sure.