Archives for September 2013

A Hot Mess

Sunne works at Detroit Garden Works.  Though her given name is Carolyn, everyone knows her as Sunne.  There is an obvious reason for that-she has a very low key and very positive aura about her.  It takes a lot to disturb her sunny disposition and manner.  She is also known for special way with words.  When something goes way haywire, she will come and tell me that we have a hot mess going on.  A hot mess accurately describes the past 10 days.  Howard had to have a fairly serious surgery.  Once I got him home, he needed lots of care from both Buck and I.  I am happy to report that he is better.

summer-containers.jpgMy summer containers at home have been a hot mess from the get go.  I planted late.  I planted lots of plants I had never grown before.  Torrential rains and cool temperatures took their toll.  At one point a Persian Shield in one of my pots wilted down, and died.  I would guess root rot was to blame.  But have I ever in my life failed to bring on a Persian Shield?  They are as easy as pie to grow.  In August, I needed to replace one of them.  The look of this pair of pots-a hot mess.  The lime green scotch moss has been the devil to keep happy.

missing-begonias.jpgCold temperatures and relentless rain-not favorable circumstances for the cultivation of begonias.  Their thick juicy stems despise too much water.  Rot has been a problem since the first of July.  The cold rain has been heaven on earth for every fungus floating in my vicinity.  Of the four begonias planted in these pots, I only have 1 and one half pathetic plants still standing.

wasabi-coleus.jpgThe Wasabi coleus is just about bullet proof.  No matter the conditions, it thrives. As for the torenia, this was my first year growing them.  I have not been disappointed.  They have been covered with flowers all season long, in spite of the rain, the cold, and the north wall.  I was impressed.  As for the curly liriope – it will rot in a heartbeat.  I watered every plant in this pot separately.  This is a lot of work.  The easiest culture for plants clustered in a container is to choose plants that all agree on optimal light and water conditions.  Should you choose to plant a container with differing sun and water conditions, plan to baby and coax.  kitchen-door-pot.jpgThe pot outside the kitchen door has taken forever to come on.  The nicotiana hated the cold.  The verbena bonariensis bloomed out early.  The double lavender petunias-not so robust.  But I see late signs of life.

Planting with a particular color scheme in mind comes with a whole host of trouble.  Many yellow and purple flowering tropical plants are so beautiful together, but they may lack the vigor given poor conditions to produce a mature arrangement that delights the eye.  Testing plants can be an expensive and unsatisfying exercise.  Be prepared.  Was I prepared?  Not really.

I spend lots of time planning my containers. I enjoy them so much. I care for them every day. Of course I want them to do well. But I do not want to limit myself to plants that promise to do well.  I want to try new things.  Unknown plants.  That exploration can unexpectedly work out great, or unexpectedly fail to enchant.  Despite my best efforts, my collection of pots is what Sunne would call a hot mess.

I have never grown yellow thumbergia before.  I have waited a long time for flowers.  I am sure to cool temperatures has a lot to do with this.  The yellow punch cannas-will they ever bloom?  I am still waiting. The scavaeola was obliging, but it cannot carry the day.  This pot is a moment still waiting to happen. I am hoping for a long and warm fall.

summer-container.jpgI do love the variegated boxwood.  Do I love its companions? Not really.  The Jester millet is the wrong texture.  It has never set seed.  The dark purple petunias are scraggly.  Though the planting is healthy, I am disappointed.  Did I do this-really?

driveway-garden.jpgThe driveway pots are based on cup and saucer vines, nicotiana langsdorfii, tibouchina, lime licorice, and misty lilac wave petunias.  A grand scheme this-but the season has not cooperated.  Will I have a fall long enough to see more flowers in this sea of green?

container-with-lantana.jpgThe box at the bottom of the stairs gets about 6 hours of sun every day.  I made a big investment in lantana.  Though all the plants seem to be doing fine, they make an arrangement which is neither strong in color or composition.  Sleepy, this.  OK-boring beyond belief.


summer-container.jpgThe Cathedral blue salvia in the center of this pot-I planted lots of them this year.  I was so taken with the color.  I see now that they are strictly a supporting cast plant.  They do not have the stature or punch required of a centerpiece for a container.  I suspect that even in a perfect season, they would always be subtle, and more green than bloom. Garden, and learn.

front-yard.jpgI am trying to take a philosophical approach.  The best part about planting containers is you have a chance to do them all differently-next year.  I have a fall season, coming up. Next season in the garden-this sounds good.  It always sounds good.