Fabulous Container Gardens

Flowers on balcony @SantaFeNM 2008jun28LAH 116When you think of container gardens, what comes to mind? Red geraniums in a window box? A hanging pot filled with colorful petunias? How about pots of herbs on the window sill? How about a huge pot overflowing with varied textures, colors, and shapes? When it comes to container gardens, that geranium is only the beginning.

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Gardening Advice: Clearing Up a Few Misconceptions

Raised bed along walkway @DBG 2008jun26 LAH 106In my recent web-browsing, I’ve come across some garden advice that made me stop, blink, and yell loudly at my screen, “No, you idiot, that’s not true!” Since I didn’t want to be the only one yelling at my computer screen, I thought I’d share some of this sage advice with you, along with what I think about it. Besides, we’re all idiots until we learn better!

Don’t throw your eggshells away. They are great for the garden in so many ways! And they’re a cheap way to make diatomaceous earth. (Bugs don’t like it)

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My Favorite Herbs

thyme_blkforest-co_lah_7184While most of my garden lies dormant for the winter, I’m still picking fresh herbs to use in my cooking. Last year I planted thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, and sage in large pots, and this fall I hauled them into a sunny spot indoors. The plants are thriving.

As I snipped some rosemary for last night’s dinner, I started thinking—while my in-ground herb garden is spacious, I only have room for a limited number of pots. So, which herbs do I consider essential? And which cultivars do I like the best?

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Winter is for Houseplants

philodendron_home_lah_2724-1Are you missing succulent green foliage, fragrant flowers, and that humus-y smell of living soil? It may be too cold to garden outside, but it’s a great time to focus on houseplants.

My indoor plants tend to be a bit neglected over the summer. Wintertime is a different matter. I fuss over them, washing the leaves, moving root bound plants into bigger pots, refreshing compacted potting mix, and just generally tidying up. This is the time of year I notice which plants have thrived, which survived, and which really need to go to that great compost pile in the sky.

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Moving Back In

rosemary_blkforest_lah_7190Last night WeatherBug was blinking a frost alert—the first of the season—and sure enough, there was ice on our birdbath this morning. I hate to admit it, but summer is over. I don’t mind the end of the cucumbers; they were overly prolific this year. And the carrots are safe underground for months to come. What I miss are the fresh herbs that we’re still enjoying. So, they’re moving back in with us.

Fresh herbs are pricy at the market, and they don’t keep very long. Yet, herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow. Since our garden is quite a ways from the kitchen, I have several pots of basil, thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary right outside the kitchen door. With the weather cooling off, it’s time to bring them inside.

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Creative Containers

Containers @DBG 19sept05 LAH 236A tantalizing spell of sunny, warm weather had me out on my patio last week. It looks so bare. Most of my pots are still safely tucked into the garage for the winter. Repeated freezing and thawing can crack unglazed pottery. Since we were out of town a lot last year, I didn’t plant anything extra, not wanting to overburden our very gracious house-sitter. This year I’ll be home, and I’m already envisioning my containers.

A simple geranium in a flower pot is fine, but I have grandiose dreams. Paying particular attention to the containers at various botanic gardens has inspired me. Here are three tips on planting spectacular pots.

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Wax Begonias—Indoors!

lah_6081What plant thrives indoors, shrugs off low humidity, and blooms all winter in bold shades of white to pink to red? Surprise! It’s wax begonias!

Also called fibrous begonias, these bedding plants have large, round succulent leaves in either lime green or a beautiful burgundy- or bronze-red. Flowers have fleshy petals surrounding a bright yellow cluster of stamens. Plants grow to a height of about six to twelve inches, and tend to flop, creating a solid mass of color, and even trailing over walls and container edges.

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