The Deck Pots

June 25 2014 (1)Every year I think I will be able to finish planting annual containers for clients before the beginning of July.  Beginning of July? I do have clients who plant their pots for spring-they have no need of a summer planting until late June.  There are some clients who call the first week of June for pots.  It is late June until I can get to them.  I am hoping to finish all of my private clients this week, leaving a summer commercial installation for next week.  The container plantings I hope to have done by the 4th of July.   Given our cold and off putting spring, It is still taking all the time I have and then some to do the work I have booked. But no matter the work load, I make time to plant my pots at home.

June 25 2014 (3)I do plant lots of containers at home.  Coming home to planted pots is a good thing indeed.  Part of my end of the day routine is to tend to the watering  and maintenance of my pots. Just an hour ago I finished planting the last pot.  Given that I am planting into warm soil, that last pot should show signs of growth in just a few days. Looking at them and after them is relaxing for me.

June 25 2014 (4)I do plant my pots differently every year.  That is part of the challenge, and the anticipation of the summer season.  My trees are in the same place, doing the same thing, every year.  My perennials and roses and groundcover-I do not move these plants around, or change them regularly. Though I may waffle away the early spring planning for my containers, by the time that June comes, I have to commit.  I like that deadline.

June 25 2014 (5)I like that pressure. Too big a time frame gives me too much room to fret.  A short time frame encourages me to make decisions, and plant.  I am pleased with this year’s deck plantings.  Certain things influence my decisions. I have a 1930’s home with Arts and Crafts details that features a brick cladding that is a mix of yellow, cream, and pink.  White looks too chilly here. Silver foliage, as in gray, looks good here.  I will admit that after the consideration of scale and mass, I am very drawn to a discussion of color. Pink and orange, and all the versions thereof, may not interest you.  But those colors suit both me and my space.

June 25 2014 (11)I went on occasion far afield from a pink and orange scheme. The Persian Shield in my Italian terra cotta squares faced down with variegated pepperomia and variegated tradescantia seemed appropriate to the color of the brick, and the color of the Italian terra cotta pots.  I had no problem introducing some dark purple to my scheme.June 25 2014 (7)The pennisetum whose name I cannot remember,  and the orange coleus works with the color and the design of this pot.  I did entertain many other plantings for these terra cotta urns.  Pictured above-my decision. No one else has to be pleased about this decision but me.  That is half the fun of it.  I like this messy head of hair in contrast to the formal and classical style of the urn.  Once the coleus gets to growing, the look will change.

June 25 2014 (8)My terra cotta pots from Mital have  loads of detail.  I try to plant them with an eye to that detail. I try even harder to not to over think it.  I am a big fan of graceful. All the plants in this pot are quite ordinary-petunias, geraniums, lime licorice.  The terra cotta nicotiana is new to me-I like that brick orange color.

June 25 2014 (6)Pink and orange-I will admit my choices for my containers this summer were much about lively color.  The nicotiana “Blue Ice” is an interesting color variation I had not seen before.  I have planted this oval pot all green, with green nicotiana, for many years.  This year is different.

June 25 2014 (10)As for what I have planted in my deck pots this year, I like the relationships generated by color.  Not quite so obvious are my sun issues.  This space does not sit due east.  It sits southeast.  This particular spot gets incredibly hot and sunny for about 6 hours a day.  The brick, once it gets really hot, radiates more heat.  I have to pick plants that are happy in this environment.

June 24 2014 (42)This pot full of orchid pink new guinea impatiens looks swell.  Like the geraniums in the previous picture, this impatiens likes the heat, and a good amount of sun.  The pot is large enough that I am able to keep the soil at the proper moisture level.  Dry New Guineas will flop over dramatically.

June 25 2014 (9)The 1930’s English snake pot is a prized pot.  It does not need all that much in the way of dressing up.  The creme brulee heuchera leaves are big and simple, and compliment the shape of the pot. I can see over it into the garden beyond. The pot has a setting.

June 25 2014 (2)At the bottom of the stairs off the deck, one of the first boxes that my company Branch ever produced. I love this box every bit as much as my Italian terra cotta pots.  The color scheme is a mix of yellow, orange and brown. There is a lot going on, texture and color wise, as the pot sits in front of a big section of brick.

I would share anything I could about my process for planting containers with any gardener.  Why wouldn’t I?  That said, I did not think much about my process until the pots were done.  My container design has everything to do with the place- the architecture of that place.  Color.  Scale and proportion. Rhythm.  Texture, mass and line.  And of course, the maintenance. What can I plant that will be a pleasure to maintain?



  1. Very nice indeed Deborah and congrats on finishing. I love the terra cotta dog! Do you sell them? Also, what is the tall plant with the pink polka dot under planting? As usual, your work is exquisite and I enjoy looking at it.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Diane, the tall plant is a variegated scented geranium. We did have them, but they are sold out now. Thanks, Deborah

  2. I was reading a post this week about the 1/3, 2/3 rule. For example. If pot is one foot tall, plants should be two feet tall. Do you follow this rule?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nella, it is not my idea to follow any rules. I look with my own eyes, and decide what looks good. I would advise you to trust your eye. Your eye is the best thing you have going for you-truly! Best, Deborah

  3. All your pots already look so full, fun and festive…very informative to hear your deciding process.

  4. Absolutely lovely! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. At the last you explain it well. Gardens can be copied but each site is unique. Love that single fact.

    What’s old, and beautiful, is new again. Every time.

    Love your pots………….always.

    XO T

  6. Heather Burkhardt says

    Pretty and festive this year. A nice change. The only other look I saw was your chocolate and silver theme, which was breathtaking. I love how the color loosens up the space and gets it ready for causal summer meals.

  7. please share your soil recipe, and any amendments. that is what i am curious about!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lori, we have a custom soil mix that we have bagged for us. Topsoil, compost, ground bark and sand-I cannot tell you the ratios. We do not plant ever in soilless mixes. I find they dry out rock hard, or stay too wet. They are great for professional growers-not so great for gardeners. Thanks, Deborah

  8. Gorgeous! I love all the combinations of color you placed in your containers. In Texas it gets so hot on our concrete that what starts out on the porch gets moved strategically further into shade all summer. Any suggestions on what to add to the soil to make it denser please?

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Alise, I would google the topic. I don’t know that much about it, since it is not an issue for me. Thanks, Deborah

  9. Very nice. I’ve been reading your blog for around a year now, maybe more, and always love your potted efforts. You have quite the eye and some beautiful plant stock to bring your visions to reality.

  10. Mike Haynes says

    Hmmmmm Orange is the new Black? Not such a fan of it in so many containers for some reason. Guess that’s where the trust your “own” eye comment comes in to play?

  11. Beverly Hansberry says

    Do you have a contact to get a Wheaton dog statue? Can I get a stand for planters like the ones on your deck? I have a stucco home and cannot get anyone here to attach anything to stucco for fear of moisture getting in. I need tall stands to hold planters. What size do they come in and price. Thanks. Love your posts! My gardens are well drenched here in Mpls!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Beverly email about a wheaten dog. We would only be able to find moss dogs. We only make the pot stands custom. You would have to send the size and height you need, and we could quote the work and shipping. Thanks, Deborah

  12. Your pots are so inspiring! I’ve tried lately to be a bit more bold and clever with choices having seen yours. I still rely on some old standards like geranium and petunia… Speaking of which… Do I see some of those rejected pink geraniums in there 😉

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Minda, I love geraniums and petunias-I am especially fond of the caliente geraniums. Thanks, Deborah

  13. gorgeous plantings as usual! my inner five year old LOVES bright, hot colors together :), use them all the time in my gardens & containers.

    i am so intrigued by that lovely cupola (?) over the french doors on your back patio. is there a small room in it? just open space? i am dying to know…i love spaces, whether home architiecture or in the garden, that convey a bit of mystery

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nanne, the cupola is over what I call my reliquary. That roof is finished on the inside with shells and beach glass. If you type in the reliquary in the search line of the blog, I am sure I have written about it before, and you can get more details. Best, Deborah

  14. It looks like a magic place eating there, i like how you raise the pots up from the ground. It is peculiar how a place affect the choice of color. I used to live in a limewashed cottage. Heuchera plum pudding was my best friend. Now i plant around an old yellow brick house, and peach, copper, black and silver keep making its way into my pots and borders.

  15. Love the bold colors, the novel structural plants (grasses even?), the overall inventiveness of your deck pots this year. However, I LOVED your chocolate/grey/white theme last year so very much that I just can’t get them out of my head. To me, those were the pinnacle of anything you ever did! You are always an inspiration!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Antoine, I certainly hope the pinnacle of my container design is yet to come! It is hard to compare pictures of those mature containers of last year with June pictures this year. The elements of size, scale and proportion are yet to come. That said,I am so pleased that you liked those pots so much that you can’t get them out of your head. That is quite a compliment, thank you. Best, Deborah

  16. Dear Deborah,

    I am new to your blog this year and am thoroughly enjoying it. I commiserated with you all winter long, worrying about the effect of mother nature on my garden (which is in PA). Your words and perspective gave me hope, even after two very old trees came down under the weight of the snow, across the driveway, and took out a garden of old rhododendron and azalea on the other side! Now I’m enjoying your ideas on spring and summer container gardening, as your posts keep me inspired to maintain my own property.

    I have a question about one of your containers – the oval terracotta (image 8). Did you do something special to get the height in the middle of the container?

    Thanks. I look forward to future posts.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Donna, the oval terra cotta pot has blue ice nicotiana, and a coleus.The nicotiana grows fairly tall. I would say 18″ tall. The coleus I pinch back when I need to. Any great container planting is all about the watering, pinching, grooming and fretting. Container plantings that I do for clients that run wild-they have their charms. and their disasters. I keep up with what is happening in my pots. I hope this helps. Thanks, Deborah

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