Thursday, January 24, 2008

Contemplating Containers

After our January thaw two weeks ago, when we enjoyed temperatures above 60ºF (15ºC), and even warm breezes, we're back to the more normal frigid mid-winter temperatures, and arctic winds. Ross and I have been getting plenty of wear out of our mad bomber hats!

In the spirit of the 'embarrassing happy hats' theme, a couple of my dear, supportive blog friends have posted pictures of themselves wearing their winter head attire. You can see Giddy's knitted version of the MB hat here, and Apple's fashion statement, complete with earmuffs here. Thanks girls for joining in the embarrassment fun :)

As pretty as the snowy landscape can be, I'm feeling rather color-deprived, but I've found that poring over last summer's garden photos is a good antidote for this. During the gardening season I didn't find much time to work on posts, and many of the thoughts and photos I wanted to share were "piled on the shelf". Now, with the cold temperatures confining me to indoor activities, I'm finally sifting through them.

I got a little carried away with containers last summer, but I had fun trying out some different combinations. Helping out last spring at my favorite nursery had its advantages, and I was able to try several plants that I hadn't grown before. I do try planning a few containers ahead of time to a certain extent, but I tend to buy the plants that catch my eye and then I have to experiment to come up with a combination that works. Some do, some don''s all part of the learning process, and part of the fun.

The Abutilon combined nicely with the white wax begonia.....

......and the pretty variegated Vinca, but the Coleus is a bit too red I think,

.......even though it's a really lovely one.

Overall though, I was pleased with this container.

I loved the yellow Marguerite daisy (Argyranthemum) with this Coleus, the Dusty Miller, purple Verbena (not showing much here) and purple Calibrachoa ("Superbells Blue"), AKA Million Bells. Posted by Picasa

A closer look at the pretty Coleus with the yellow daisy.

The brown glazed pot behind Jasmine (what's a post without a kitty picture?) was one of my favorites with that pretty yellow Calibrachoa, a Vancouver Centennial geranium (variegated leaves and red flowers) that I over-wintered from the previous year, the lovely dark-leaved Purple Knight (Alternathera), and Nemesia 'Sunsatia Mango'.

Unfortunately the calibrochoa died in July, probably due to wet feet. They don't like that! Happily, the other calibrochoas I grew all did very well.

I fell in love with this Nemesia 'Sunsatia Mango' when I spied it at the nursery last spring. Just look at those pretty little 'faces'! :) And it blooms all summer! Posted by Picasa

I tried Monkey Flower (Mimulus) for the first time this past year....

......combined with a smaller cultivar of licorice plant (Helichrysum Silver Mist)....hoping the small licorice wouldn't take over like the big one,..........

.....Iresine, another pretty dark-leaved filler, and a lovely pink Nemesia ('Sunsatia Rasberry').

As you can see, the licorice did take over, hogging the container, and crowding the other plants. I really like the silvery foliage, but I wish I could keep it in check better. I was disappointed that the Iresine didn't do as well as I hoped it would.....probably because it was too crowded. Posted by Picasa

Here's a different cultivar of Iresine (AKA Chicken Gizzard...isn't that a delightful name? I'm being facetious, of course) that I grew in 2006. I liked it much better, but sadly, I couldn't find this one last year. It grew very fast and I had to cut it back a few times. Posted by Picasa

The pretty pinkish red, dainty flowered plant in this container is Diascia 'Flying Colors Red'. This is another plant that blooms all summer. I also tried it in the garden and it did wonderfully well, continuing to bloom after several light frosts. I liked it with the white wax begonias and red coleus.

These double impatiens look like tiny roses. I love them, but I've had the worst luck with impatiens...both double and single, for the past 2 summers. The year before (and as long as I've been gardening here...that's 24 years) they grew beautifully in containers, window boxes and garden, but recently something has caused their leaves to yellow and fall off, and some of the plants to die. The rest just languish and look sick, while producing very few flowers. My Master Gardener friend, Marie, thinks it could be spider mites, and suggested I try dusting them with Sevin, which I did, but it was too late to save them at that point. So I'm still unsure of the cause. Has anyone else had similar problems with Impatiens?

Here are the singles shortly after planting. They never grew any bigger than this. You can see just a few leaves beginning to turn yellow. I like to combine them with English Ivy (or Vinca) and Dusty Miller. When they grow well this makes a pretty container.

This is the same container after the impatiens had died. I replaced them with some cuttings I'd started in the late winter from the 'Marimba' Ivy geranium that I over-wintered. Posted by Picasa

I always grow a few tuberous begonias in hanging baskets. Their blooms are so perfectly formed.....

........and remind me of the camelias my mother used to grow in Australia, which I can't plant in the garden here in our zone 5 NY climate.

Here's the 'Marimba' Ivy geranium and 'Marinka' Fuchsia...both over-wintered plants from the summer of 2006. I've also successfully rooted cuttings from the fuchsia and planted them in the garden.....taking them up in fall, and potting them to over-winter in the house.

'Marimba' up close.

And 'Marinka'.

It's funny that the names and colors of these two favorites are so similar. Both have been wonderful plants, and the hummingbirds love them!

Here's another calibrachoa, also a great plant for attracting the hummers.

This is one of the plants that's over-wintering in an upstairs bedroom. I showed a picture of it with a single bloom in the previous post.

And just a couple more shots to finish up.
Ross attached that tray to the railing to bring the birds a little closer for me to photograph. It works well. Posted by Picasa

Here's what I'm dreaming of......a warm, summer rain on a morning in July. Birds singing, flowers blooming.....
Sweet dreams! Posted by Picasa


Sigrun said...[Reply]

So much colour and always a cat - very nice impressions, Kerri. I have no Impatiens and can not answer a question.


Stuart said...[Reply]

Gorgeous pots Kerri. Unless you enjoy looking at snow, I wouldn't be moving away from the computer screen with those beautiful colours adorning it.

Barbara said...[Reply]

And in about 6 months, your "sweet dreams" are reality again!!! What a rich and wonderful selection of plant combination you have, Kerri! Beautiful matching all the different colours! I love this special red of the Marimba pelargonium. To see and read your "blooming" post is the right pleasure for cold and grey winter days. Let's go on dreaming...

Alice said...[Reply]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alice said...[Reply]


I have a number of glorious English books on container planting which I often look at and drool over. I long to grow containers of varied plantings just like those in the books.

However, I think I'll be leaving the books on the shelves and simply returning to your blog time and time again. How come you never showed us those wonderful, magnificant containers before now? Oh, how selfish you are, Kerri!!!!

I love the colour and plant selection and the way you have combined them in each pot. I know that container planting/growing is easier in much of the northern hemisphere, due to the damper weather, than it is in Australia, but your photos have revived my aspirations to grow the second best containers in the world - yours are already in first place.

I'm so glad it's cold and snowy over there now - it gives you and Ross the opportunity to drool over those spectacular containers. They are truly 'out of this world'.

I love them, love them, and love them some more. CONGRATULATIONS, smarty pants.

Lisa at Greenbow said...[Reply]

What a wonderful shot of color on this "feel like minus" day. I too am feeling a bit color deprived.

kenju said...[Reply]

Your combinations are beautiful and the red coleus is smashing!

Susie said...[Reply]

Good morning dear Kerri,
How cheery to see all these beautiful spots of color on such a dreary winter day here! Jasmine is probably longing for a nice nap in the sun too!
Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your summer garden.

bigbikerbob said...[Reply]

Hi Kerrie, Just stumbled across your blog via jen/kaz's, I see you too love your garden and containers,hanging baskets and tubs. I love my little plot and adore Fuchsia's they are my "Thing". Year before last I grew 67 different varieties and probably will again in the future.

Linda said...[Reply]

A visit to your blog is like a walk through a beautiful garden Kerri. Even here in South Texas it is cold and drizzly and everything is a drab shade of brown. You have brightened my day!

Jellyhead said...[Reply]

Oh, dear, I see you have a nasty case of winteritis. I offer you my sincere condolences.

I believe the cure, as so often, is time ;-)

In the meantime, these are some truly gorgeous photos of last summer's bounty!

Judy Birmingham said...[Reply]

Oh these were a sight for sore eyes! I woke up feeling the exact same way. It was 5 degrees out at 6:30 a.m....can't even get out for a walk today. I need warmth! I need color! I need light! Thanks for a little bit of each today in your beautiful photos.

Robin's Nesting Place said...[Reply]

Kerri, I don't think I could pick a favorite. They are all gorgeous.

My containers didn't fair very well this summer. We had water restrictions due to the drought and I eventually got tired of lugging the bath water downstairs to water outside plants.

Sharon said...[Reply]

I so enjoyed all the lovely pictures of the flowers. It helped me think of spring and summer on this day which is 0 degrees in Ohio. Thanks and I need that very much.

Chica, Cienna, and Cali said...[Reply]

it's a constant spring on your blog :)
I truly,madly,deeply fell in love with your 'Sunsatia Mango'...their pastel shades are right after my own heart ......have a great weekend :)

Christy Woolum said...[Reply]

Your container pictures got me inspired to think about color schemes for next summer. I really liked what you did with coleus. I also love licorice for a filler... but you are right... it does take over.

kate said...[Reply]

Your pots are filled with beautiful combinations of plants. It is definitely an art to know what goes well together. You have a talent for it!!

Midlife Mom said...[Reply]

What a nice splash of color for us all to look at! Such a nice surprise during these cold winter months to see what we can do next summer! I get spider mites on my impatiens and end up cutting them right back and spraying what's left. It's a big problem and makes a mess of the plant and can spread to other plants as well. Some years do all right but some years they are just everywhere. Don't know what makes the difference. Yes, you have to have a cat in each blog!!!

Reflection Through The Seasons said...[Reply]

Sweet dreams indeed Kerri..... Yes, like you I’m feeling ‘colour in the garden deprived’. I’ve enjoyed seeing your wonderful variety of pots, goodness, how many do you have, they are magnificent and quite inspirational.... I can’t wait to get started.

So pleased that your snowy days are over, lets hope that’s the last of them for this year. We had a glorious spring-like weekend, of course I was tempted into the garden, I did so enjoy it, but my shoulder muscles didn’t.... it was worth it tho’. Have a good week. Love - Marion

Pear tree cottage! said...[Reply]

Dear Kerri, for a fleeting moment I thought "wow her winter is over!" for you and summer has arrived then I read your post and see simply what dreams are made of.....your pots from last summer! (smiles)

It has been so lovely seeing you at my blog and seeing as it has been such a long time since I visited you I find it a "must" to go now and read every post of yours I have missed over the past months.

I hope the chinook winds are not blowing your way dear friend and that your dreams of a rainbow filled garden and pots comes true very soon.


Giddy said...[Reply]

My secret pal gifted me with a book on container gardening and your post has inspired me to get it out and begin planning for spring, even though you and I are both months away from digging in the dirt!

Jasmine looks quite happy sitting in the sun. Does she go out much in winter? I would expect not. Even with that nice long coat, it would be cold.

Noella said...[Reply]

I feel I've just visited a magnificent living-art exhibition! Lovely displays and photos, particularly with Puss!

Cris said...[Reply]

Kerri, I agree with Noella, this lovely post is truly a living-art exhibition! It shows your love for the flowers in such a beautiful way. And of course, the photography when you add other elements, like your porch, the background, the wooden floor... make a great composition!

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...[Reply]

I haven't done much with containers so I appreciate the inspiration. All of yours were wonderful. Your pictures are certainly welcome as all I see is snow and mud right now. I'm dreaming over the latest catalog but I really won't start any planning until after winter break.

Anonymous said...[Reply]

Ahhh, a breath of summer! Love all your containers! It is nice to revisit the summer garden and dream of the next one! I feel better now!

Sandy Hatcher-Wallace said...[Reply]

Kerri...this is just what I needed to see on this gloomy gray day...Some beautiful flowers in bloom. The picture of the warm summer rain also looks very appealing.

Mountain Mama said...[Reply]

I love your furry hat! I bet is is so nice and warm. I have ben wearing fuzzy stocking caps and hoods to keep the cold out.
It's in the low 40's here and just a tiny patch of snow here and there, but the wind blows of the snowy mountains and makes me feel like it's 20 below.
I love seeing all your lovely flowers. I had a few Million Bells plants last summer and hope to do more this year. Your purple ones are wonderful.
Keep warm dear.

roybe said...[Reply]

Hi Kerri, thanks for popping in, It's nice to hear from you, Life gets so busy once grandchildren come along and also we've just got ourselves a little retreat up at Tamborine mountain (about an hours drive south of Brisbane) So the internet has taken a bit of a back seat I'm afraid. One wonders where all the time goes. I must say your flowers and the colours are very refreshing to see, and your verandah and pot's look great, I bet you have lots of relaxing cups of tea out there. I wish we could grow fruchias like yours. I think Brisbane is to humid, maybe we'll have some luck at Tamborine.
Anyway bye for now Kerri. Enjoy the Spring .

Regards Roy

Jo's-D-Eyes said...[Reply]

Hi dear Kerri,
What a sweet flowers and great to see all those colours, i Thought You might like to join me on my walk....

See on my blog, what I made for ABC wednesday,I made music combined with photography, and BIRDS....

Greetings from JoAnn Holland

clairesgarden said...[Reply]

beautiful! the prfecr antidote to another windy wet day!
delving into seed catalouges here and trying not to order everything.
I like the coleus.

TUFFENUF said...[Reply]

I finally caught up on my blog reading. I enjoyed your beautiful photos (are you sure you are not a professional gardner?) I also loved the mad bomber hat!!! Hope you will be getting some more warm weather soon.

Sharon said...[Reply]

After looking at your beautiful pictures of flowers I think you could sell youe pictures to better homes and gardens.......just beautiful.

Anonymous said...[Reply]

Wow, Kerri - thanks for the much needed shot of container color. You've inspired me to try some of those calibrachoa this year!

CommonWeeder said...[Reply]

This is a beautiful post, and doubly useful this morning as I prepare to give a talk on container planting. Thanks for the inspiration and the help.

Betty said...[Reply]

Hi, first time visiting your blog. Love your containers, you have a gift!
I am new with my blog but if interested.