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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Containers - Medium

Containers with a flair!

What I consider a medium container is one that is not just "medium" in size but also requires a bit of work to get the finished results. More than adding a few handfuls of soil but not so difficult a project that you need a rocket science degree to try this.

This first image shows a pot shaped like a head (simply called a pot-head around here). This pot charmed me a few years ago at the Philadelphia flower show and weighs enough that I was struggling by the time I got it to my car.

It has a very small place to actually put your plants and if I chose to put a single plant there, it could qualify as a "small" container. The fact that I like to plant a trio of plants, bumps this up to "medium". You see, the first year I had this pot in my garden I learned that it dries out very quickly because of the small amount of soil in the chamber. Since I don't have time to water my containers twice a day, I've learned to chose plants that don't mind drying out.

Hanging Baskets

Hanging Baskets require a bit of thought, which is why I put them in this category. Whether small, medium or large, there are a few thinks you need to consider when making a hanging basket. First of all, because this container is up in the air, you are going to see much more of the mechanics such as the underneath part of the container. Hanging plastic pots can be bought just about anywhere in the spring but I like be a bit more original. The majority of hanging pots in my garden have an open iron-like framework. In this first example though you can clearly see the terracotta colored plastic pot.

When it comes to using containers that have an open framework, you will have to decide what to use to close up that framework. This past season I tried two new products, both of which worked out very well for me. This group of hanging containers and open framework containers along my cabana are all lined with coco liners. Coconut coir fiber liners come under several different names so use what is available to you. I actually ended up buying large circular liners and pulling them carefully apart so that I'd have a number of pieces ranging from 8 inches to 12 inches. This was easier to work with and seemed to me to be a more natural look.

My favorite result came from using sphagnum moss. I wasn't sure I like this at first but it quickly grew on me. Sphagnum moss is a bit harder to work with. I bought a large cube of the moss and put it in a 5 gallon bucket. Then I added water to the bucket and let the moss soak up the water. Using a hand cultivator, I stirred the mossy soup to break up any large lumps. Once the moss was ready, I began grabbing large handfuls of the moss, squeezing out any excess moisture and then pressed it against the container frame. It's very important to remember to wear rubber gloves while doing this. The container of moss that I had purchased had clear instructions that people should handle the moss with rubber gloves and I made sure I did exactly that.

Once you've pressed moss all around the container, you should consider lining it with something or it's going to dry out every time a breeze blows by. I used landscape fabric but as I wrote in the previous posting on small containers, you can also use plastic supermarket bags with a few slits cut into them. Now you are ready to plant.

When you've finished planting your container you need to hang it up to dry. The first day it's going to drip quite a bit of water and bits of moss so don't hang it in your screen room if you don't want a puddle on the floor. Another helpful thing would be to place a large plastic bag or even an old dish washing drain under the container while working on in. There was so much moss on the ground after I had finished that I found myself trying to pick it up to use in the next planting.

Ivy turned out to be an excellent plant to include in almost all of these plantings. Every two weeks or so I'd take the longest tendrils and just wrap them further around the container. They look lovely growing on the outside of the moss. I really loved this combination of the variegated ivy and the peace lily but I have to admit that the peace lily needed more water than I was giving it.

Bird Bath Bases in the Garden

Two years ago I was walking through Main Street Nursery (in Huntington Village) when I spied these amazing containers. They kind of looked like ice-cream cones coming up from the ground. When I asked my friend Gianna about them, she told me that they were the bases of ceramic bird baths! Every now and then a shipment of bird baths has a broken piece top or bottom and it was a shame to throw out the other half of the bath. In this case they started using the bases as innovative containers. Well, I was madly in love with these and lucky enough to be the first to ask if I could purchase them.

Because these bases are actually being place up-side-down, they need some kind of support to keep them from tipping over. You can see in the photo that I used a simple wooden stake that I pounded well over a foot into the soil. Once you've got the stake firmly pounded down, you simply slip the hollow bird bath base right over the stake. When adding your potting soil you might want a second stake or garden tool to help you tamp the soil down around inside the base. then add your plant material and you have a whimsical addition to your garden.

In two of these containers I planted hardy perennials instead of annuals. The perennials came through the winter just fine and it sure lessons the amount of planting I had to do the next year (besides saving me some money at the same time).

My last container in this post is going to be the radio flyer wagon that I've been planting various succulents in for the past few years.

In the same photo you can also see my pot lady but I'm going to save her for the next installment on large containers.

The red radio flyer wagon had a mishap with a backing up car so it no longer worked well to move things around in the garden. By drilling a few drainage holes in the bottom, it became a fun focal point for my daughters playground area.

The first time I planted this wagon I put herbs and veggies in it. The herbs worked well but the celery was not happy with the shallow allotement of soil. The next year I put various Sedums and Sempervivum (hens & chicks) in the wagon and it's stayed this way for two years. The bonus with using succulents is that I've never had to water this container and yet it always looks chock full of cheerfulness.


Beework said...

The nverted BBB's are 'Way beyond cool' Cats and racoons have broken several tops through the years, and I kept (dang) only one bottom. Gonna get some more!

Gotta Garden said...

I love the head pot! This will be my first visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show...I'm so looking forward to it!

Beautiful containers!

Melanie Vassallo said...

Looks like I might go to the Philadelphia Flower show too. Maybe we can get some more daylily buds to meet us there.