I Can't Contain Myself!
May is the month to plant your summer containers! Every year I vow not to plant as many as the year before, but every year I plant as much or more. Except for the watering, containers are easy. You rarely have to weed them, they grow quickly and give almost instant beauty, and they satisfy that urge to plant when spring fever hits. An empty pot is a three-dimensional art form waiting for the creative touch!
What makes a container outstanding is not confined to exuberant cascades of flowers. Some of the most breathtaking planted pots contain a mixture of great foliage textures and colors, with or without a flower in sight. The handsome container above is spilling over with a variety of succulent plants.
Today we make containers out of almost anything that can hold a bit of soil. Chicken wire bent into a cone, lined with sphagnum moss, and filled with soil and a few Muscari bulbs makes a sweet May basket. The clever use of a garden glove filled with cheerful primroses hanging on the shed door reminds us that even our tools are a source for creativity. An empty burlap bag, turned into a planter is proof—you just need to let your imagination run wild.
Containers for Wildlife
Sue Lukins, container garden guru at Valley Nursery in Poulsbo, Washington, recently planted a variety of containers for The Call To The Wild auction—a benefit for the West Sound Wildlife Shelter. The containers were auctioned off to raise money to help the nonprofit that rehabilitates animals and releases them back to the wild, and educates the public about wildlife in our region. Lukins artfully fit the plants to go with each of the containers. (To see each individual pot with a list of plant material follow the links below.)
Design Your ContainerSome of the most elegant shade containers house mostly foliage. One example I show people at Valley Nursery, contains one bronzeleaf Rodgersia, Hosta, Sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’, and a Hakonechloa—Japanese forest grass. Sue Lukins uses flowers extensively in containers; however, some of the designs are all about texture and color, without a flower in site.
Have a plan in mind. What color is the container, how big is it? A small container might look better with just one exuberant plant, while a large pot on the deck could house a huge array of plantings. One design trick for large plantings includes one tall plant that is called a thriller; the plants that surround it would be called the filler (but still can be thrilling!), and those that drape are considered the spillers. Thrillers can be ornamental grass, cabbage palms, even conifers. Anything that can add height and with colorful foliage makes a wonderful thriller: you be the judge and pick what tugs your creative strings. Around its base you can bring in a contrast of texture. If you have a fine needled conifer for a thriller, for example, contrast the filler with large leaves in plants such as a coleus. The combinations are endless.
Pick out your thriller and pack it around the nursery. Take pots of flowers and place them next to each other to assess the color or texture combinations. Visually build your pot at the nursery. Ground your pots with great foliage and accessorize with flowers and you will have a pot that is beautiful. And remember, less, most times, means more.
The Animal Containers
Each individual container featured an animal for the auction that benefited the wildlife shelter. Follow the link to see each individual container with closeups of the plants and a list of the plants used in each pot.
- The Owl and the Metal Planter
- The Bat and the Ceramic Rooster Planter
- The Bird and the Strawberry Box Planter
- The Hawk and the Metal Bowl Planter
- The Bear and the Red Planter
- The Owl and the Galvanized Bucket Planter
The West Sound Wildlife Shelter provides injured, orphaned, and sick wild animals a second chance at life and promotes the well-being of wildlife and their habitats through public outreach, education, and involvement.