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Monday, May 05, 2008

Perennials in Containers

When I have a bit extra money, I like to buy concrete containers for my garden. The best thing about these types of containers is that I can keep them out all winter and not worry about them cracking or breaking. My oldest pair is 22 years old and I love them as they are all aged and mossy.

This container is one of a pair. I've had them for 3 years now but the color of the concrete is still too white and new so I moved them to a shady location in hopes they moss up quicker (I've also heard buttermilk would help the process).

When I got these containers I put a small Hosta and a small piece of Astilbe in each pot. That was it, I left them alone for three years other than an occasional watering.

Today I popped out those plants. They had grown all together and the only way to get them out without damaging the foliage was to roll those containers onto their sides. The "plant balls" slid right out, kind of like getting a big muffin out of a muffin tin.


Here's a close-up of one of my plant muffins. The Astilbe had already leafed out but the Hosta was still tightly furled.

One simple starting slice with my trusty root knife and the pieces almost fell apart (well, almost, with a bit of elbow grease). Here you can see them, the soil was nice and black and still crumbly (it was compost, not potting soil).


I was able to cut each Astilbe into three large pieces and each Hosta into three large pieces too. At the same time I had a nice size chunk to put back in the pot while those other pieces were potted up for our sale.

The Hosta variety was Hosta fortunei Aurea marginata and the name tags were still easy to read. The Astilbe is a lovely tall lavender one that I've had in my garden for years.

This is what the Astilbe looks like in bloom with daylily 'Mokan Butterfly'. This photo caused these two plants to sell like hot cakes last year. I don't even care that I don't know the Astilbe name, it's so beautiful and increases so well that I never want to be without it in my garden.

Off to bed, tomorrow is a long day. Tonight I was carrying a platter of weisswurst and Hamburgers in from the grill and tripped while coming in the door. Rather than drop the meat I twisted my back and landed on my knee cap (hard tile floor). All the while a little voice was shouting in my head "Save the Hamburgers!". I already know I'm going to be stiff tomorrow but mmm dinner was delicious.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

PS Im still new at this blogging/ message thing so please disregard any of my other attempts to write this note... I didnt see the little green message on the top of the screen letting me know my message went through! lol! Jackie

Cinj said...

OWWCH! Poor Melanie. But you had to save dinner. Sounds yummy!

I planted 4 astibles in my shade garden. I hope they turn out, they are so elegant looking when they bloom. Speaking of which, I wonder if my old ones will be coming up soon. My hostas were HUGE last summer so I should be able to get quite a few new plants. IF I can manage to keep the deer away from them, that is. Deer didn't used to be a problem for me.

Anna said...

What a great MOM! You saved dinner!Sorry you got hurt. Good thing you didn't break that knee cap. I saved some dead dried out plants today when I fell but that doesn't make me nearly the hero you are. I swear I'm tired of that big box store where I work not watering their plants...I can't say that on my blog;)...my employer reads over there!

Anyway--I love your Astilbe and how you match stuff up. I got to get up early tomorrow on my day off. My sweet neighbor is giving me some Rose of Sharon and some hosta too. I just know all those containers are going to look grand this summer all around your yard. I look forward to seeing lots of pictures.

Congrats too on finishing a great adult Ed class. I'm sure they loved it.

Frances, said...

Love you plant muffins, what are you going to plant in there this year, same thing? Astilbes are the greatest plant, that is one plant here that most of the names are not known, but it does't matter, when shopping for them, all are good. Hope you knee isn't too bad, you are a hero to the hamburgers.

Lin zone 9a said...

Love the way the Astilbe looks with daylily 'Mokan Butterfly'...Good pairing! I wish my resident bunnies didn't find daylilies (and almost everything else) so irresistable!

Have you tried the newest "phony" pots that look like ceramic or terracotta? I've been impressed with how real they look, but without the weight and they're better at holding in the moisture. Not sure how that material would hold up in your weather though.

Good save on the dinner! Hope you aren't too stiff and sore today!

Helen said...

At least you werent saying 'Save the Cheerleader' - that would have been weird!!

I spent 45 minutes getting an Agapanthus out of a pot the other day - what a nightmare

Karen said...

The astible and daylily is a very pretty combo!

garden girl said...

Oh, poor Melanie! It's never a good time to take a fall like that, and especially not when you're as busy as you must be getting ready for the big sale.
I hope you're not too sore.

Nancy J. Bond said...

I'm glad you saved your dinner, but I hope your back doesn't give you too much trouble. It doesn't take much, sometimes. I'm impressed that you were able to grow those perennials so well in the containers -- I'll feel better about doing the same on my balcony this summer. :)

Gail said...

I would so buy the daylily and astilbe...they look stunning together. Is the astilbe in the sunny bed or in a shadier section? It would fry here in Chez Cedar!

Hope your knee is better.

Gail

cindee said...

Your plants look just great!!! I bet having pictures at the sale really does sell the plants. Everyone loves pictures(-: For some reason astilbe does not grow for me. I don't know why.

Melanie said...

Hi Jackie, we all were new at some time, I still make mistakes and learn something all the time here in blogger-land.

Cinj, Astilbes should do really well for you and hopefully you can get pieces of those Hosta too. Maybe the deer will stay away?

Anna, hooray for me, the hamburgers were saved! I think that Calie was hoping they hit the floor, she was the reason I tripped and maybe she had an ultimate purpose? Hope you enjoyed your day off :-)

Frances, I don't know yet what I'll plant in those containers. Most likely it will be something left over from the plant sale because it looks wimpy in the pot. Maybe it's time to try some hardy geraniums mixed with a chartreuse hosta?

Lin, I have good "phony pots" and bad ones. There are two on my front stoop that look like iron containers until you get up and actually touch them. The nice thing is I can lift them without asking for help from anybody else.

Helen, thanks for the laugh!I wish Agapanthus grew here, there's a variety they claim is hardy but I've lost it twice and it's just too expensive to try again.

Karen, I wish I could take credit for that combination but I think it just "happened".

Linda, I'm on such a rush now that I don't feel anything. I'm taking airborne like crazy because my daughter has a cold and I just can't be sick this Saturday.

Nancy, you should have no problem on your balcony, especially with the cooler summers in Nova Scotia.

Gail, that daylily/astilbe combination is in a spot that gets sun in the morning but by 1:00 pm it's in the shade. Daylilies around here do pretty well with only 4 or 5 hours of direct sunlight. I have some deep red ones that get even less light and they are magnificent with the Hosta and Hydrangeas.

Cindee, I haven't always had luck with Astilbe. They don't want as much shade as the books make it sound. I find they need a good 4-5 hours of solid sunlight and then lots of filtered sun. They are "gross feeders". Fill the hole with compost and add some fertilizer in the spring. They also like to be watered and I find they like to be divided every 3 or 4 years so you can amend the soil again. I think this summer I'll have to do a post on Astilbes, I just need to have some more photos.

rees cowden said...

Nice combination of plants. I like the contrast in textures!