More Places

debhouse4No matter that I have been planting annuals for the better part of 25 years; I have yet to get to that  point where I have had enough.  It’s a yearly conversation I have with myself, usually in late February.  Do I still want to do this?  Would I like some other career?  Am I done with my career-would I just like a job? Another words, I am wringing my hands and fretting such, it would make you laugh.2008_silver_deborah_house_7-8-08_16

Incidentally, my idea of a good job would be to gang mow 1-75 between Detroit, and Flint, and back. Repeatedly, through 3 seasons.  No phones to answer, no problems to solve-just headphones blasting whatever music seems good that day. A responsibility for short grass, and short grass, only.  Some days, the Mozart Requiem (fall music for sure) and other days, Aretha Franklin, or the Propeller Heads. Or Bob Dylan-that would be good.   I would sculpt that grass for miles, and look forward to that sculpture’s next incarnation. I would park my mower and that job at the end of the day, and head for home. debhouse2

But I am not ready for that, yet.  I still love that I have my home and my garden-but also that I have lots of other gardens that belong to me in a certain way, as I’ve designed and planted them.

There are the people that own those gardens with whom I have a relationship.  I think God steered me to this career-as I have more gardens and landscapes than years left, that I want to plant.
That an annual garden, or any garden for that matter, is ephemeral is key to my love for them. So intensely present all season, one good frost and poof, gone. Why do without memories like these?



Other Places

otherplaces4Annual flowers on a terrace do a lot to warm up all the hard surfaces. I pay particular attention to the overall plant height and composition of those pots, as they are usually viewed up close, and while sitting.


I may want a particularly beautiful pot elevated on a stand or pedestal, so as to feature it.  I may plant tall pots in strategic areas to give intimacy to a dining area, or perhaps screen a poor view.  At this moment, I am able to see my neighbor’s discarded Christmas tree quite clearly from my deck. Urban living-it has its challenges.


Small terraces benefit from a cohesive plan. Pots may be organized around a dominant color, or texture, or style.otherplaces88

They may be organized around a collection of containers.


Pots of flowers with every conceivable color, every texture, and in every size are the hallmark of a person whose first and last love is plants, and more plants. Though I appreciate excitement like this, I try to edit.  After all, with annuals there are second chances, so I try not to throw myself at every annual like I have 10 minutes to live.

This terrace is planted in a color palette my clients like.  We keep the color constant, but plant different plants every year.  They do a beautiful job of taking care of it all, no kidding.   My second favorite day of the gardening year, after Mindy prunes my boxwood, is going back to those places I planted in May, in July, and know I handed off the baton to someone who values this as much as I do.  Thanks a million,  Hilary and Stewart.


Plant Some Pots

Diana has been planting pots for me for 10 years.  She starts with a square of landscape fabric over the drain hole, and adds drainage material to 2/3 of the pot. Another layer of landscape fabric prevents the soil from sifting down into the drainage layer.  We use a topsoil/compost mix for pots.  Soil-less mixes are great for professional growers, as it is sterile. Professional growers know how to water and fertilize properly. I like real soil. We mix in osmocote, a time release fertilizer; the rate of release speeds up as the soil temperature goes up. Apply according to directions. We go for that lush look; we pack the plants in, so they look great from the start. Later, we groom the pots.  We remove excess growth underneath to keep the air circulation good, and the possibility of fungus low.  We cut back the dead flowers and leaves.  We may even shape the overall composition by trimming and cutting back.  Does she not make it look easy??


april_16_029april_16_030april_16_039Spring plantings do look great in old crates, wood boxes, buckets and baskets. Landscape fabric can help hold the soil where you want it; coir sheets can be cut for boxes with big open spaces.  Coir is a mat woven from the fibers of the hull of the coconut; it is sometimes called coco fiber. Have at planting some pots.