Kicking off with containers

Beckie Fox

container summer 2019

What signals the start of a new gardening season is different for everyone. For some, it’s the first scattering of radish seed over freshly tilled soil. Or the lawn mower is tuned and the clippers sharpened. Or the crabapple is in full bloom and looks healthy. For me, it’s when all the containers are placed around the porch and patio, filled with fresh potting soil, and waiting for the trays of bedding plants to be upended and arranged into — what is hoped — a pleasing picture.

Last year’s colour scheme was basic deep purple and white with white pentas, purple angelonia, Black & Bloom salvia, and single and double white and purple calibrachoas and small-flowered petunias. The clematis is ‘Rooguchi’.

Container gardening has been a big part of my gardening life for many years, and was the gateway to other growing obsessions: perennial borders, cutting gardens, herbs, shrubs and trees, and tomatoes and dahlias. I’ve just finished planting more than two dozen containers and there are still plants and pots to be paired up.

Healthy, thriving container plants are my goal. If the plant combinations are especially eye-catching, that’s a bonus. For practical advice and design inspiration, check out:

Start with good plants

Six container gardening tips

Container combo

How to choose garden pots

Making good choices

“Grow Me Instead: Beautiful Non-Invasive Plant for Your Garden” is an excellent guide to helping you choose environmentally sound groundcovers, perennials, trees and vines that address diversity loss and climate change. The 58-page guide, published by the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, suggests non-invasive alternatives to popular garden plants that are problematic in southern Ontario. You can download a PDF copy here.

Build a stumpery

Rock gardens, koi ponds, mazes, topiary: There’s never a lack of garden projects one could get embark upon. What about a stumpery?

Made up of stumps, logs and pieces of wood, a stumpery creates a special environment for plants, as well as insects and toads, although the wood and how it’s arranged is almost as important as what’s growing around it. “A stumpery can convert an average-looking shade garden into one with real character,” according to Garden Fundamentals. 

Coping with clay soil

If  gardeners aren’t grumbling about the weather, we’re grousing about our soil. Sandy soil is easy to work and warms up quickly in the spring, but doesn’t retain water or nutrients like clay soil. Clay soil is heavy to work and remains waterlogged after a heavy rain, yet forms a brick-like consistency during a hot, dry summer. If clay is your nemesis, here is advice from Seed Savers Exchange.

A new role for greenhouses

There’s social distancing and then there’s social distancing. A restaurant in Amsterdam plans to reopen with a twist: Guests will be served in their own individual glass greenhouse. Meals will be plant-based, too, say the owners. Of course.

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