Sunday, April 4, 2010

Revamping and reviving the garden

Now that spring is here I've been thinking of revamping some container plantings in my garden that have been neglected over several seasons.

This camellia has been blooming with pretty flowers, but it's been allowed to get leggy, and there's no eye-candy after the flowers are through. That's a potted cyclamen, by the way, that was simply tossed into the bottom of the camellia's pot after the holidays. I have no shame.

This fuchsia, "Gartenmeister Bonstedt," is a lovely plant with its pendulous little firecracker flowers and dark, inky-tinged foliage. But lack of pruning and care has also allowed it to sprawl and lose its punch. Both pots are due for a make-over.

So I went to the local garden center to find some companion plants to nestle alongside the older shrubs and provide some extra color and interest.

Both containers will remain in the front yard where it's shady with a bit of dappled sun that comes through the branches of our large coast live oaks. Shade is a plus in our climate, where the full sun can often be too blinding for many flowering plants. A whole range of flowering plants like begonias and impatiens and even some pelargoniums (geraniums) are perfect for this high shade. I was also looking for plants with colorful foliage.

The camellia is on a drip line, but the fuchsia is stand-alone, so its companions should be tough enough to survive some thirsty times, especially since I'm a lazy gardener.

Annual Coleus are available in almost any combination of color, from chartreuse to magenta. While I like the bold, flaming ones, there are also more delicate combinations with pink, white and green - those would look nice with the pale pink camellia blossoms, and carry on the pink theme later into the season.

Coleus are thirsty plants, so, as much as it would be fun to use them with the fuchsia, they are better with the camellia where they'll have dependable watering.

I like this bronze ornamental grass - Carex buchananii - with its disheveled loose feel, but the stiff green one next to it with its straight vertical lines is nice too.

Succulents make great pot-stuffers, and they come in all kinds of wonderful shapes and colors. Many, such as escheveria, have tiny, jewel-like blooms that rise on stalks above the central rosette.


This Setcresea pallida "Purple Heart" with its purple foliage is a knockout, whether in a pot or in the garden. It droops and trails over the rim. As a bonus, it has tiny pink flowers.

Chartreuse is a great color to use in a shady place, and there are many choices. Lysimachia, or "creeping jenny" is a low spreading foliage plant with leaves about the size of a dime. Lamium, or "dead nettle" - what a terrible name! - is a low-growing plant in the mint family that spreads quickly and makes a good groundcover in gardens. It comes in various forms with patterned foliage, but the variety "Lemon Frost" is a clear bright green with a blaze of cream. Finally, helichrysum "Lemon Licorice" has soft fuzzy leaves that sprawl and tumble over the rim of a container.

I wanted some flowers to carry through the summer, but I also wanted interest and color. I'm also miserly, and didn't want to spend a lot of money. It's not always easy to find a good selection in small, 4" pots, but at one local garden center, I found what I wanted.


Here they are. A handful of succulents; a six-pack of coleus; an ornamental grass, a fancy-leaved pelargonium, a begonia and a couple of coral-pink impatiens.

The problem with garden shopping is it's a little like grocery shopping - if you see something that strikes your fancy, you take it home even if you haven't figured out how to use it yet. So I also chose an herb I couldn't resist - at $8.99 it was a steal compared to a specimen I'd seen at another garden center for $39.99 - that's the big pot at the upper right. Also, I got a perennial heuchera that I didn't really need in the main garden, but it caught my eye.

With a big bag of potting soil, this all cost about $60.00.

Next, I'll show you how I planted them.

5 comments:

MAYBELLINE said...

Yikes smikes! That's quite an amount. Although it's fun to have immediate gratification it comes with a price tag. Consider seeds next time. The investment is so nominal. I look forward to following your revamp. You have picked out some very nice plants.

Aunt Snow said...

Not TOOOOOO much - $12 for the soil, $8.99 for my impulse purchase, and the rest were all between $1.99 and $3.99 each. So that's about $38 for over a dozen plants.

Seeds would only work if I had the foresight to sow them....which pf course I didn't.

MAYBELLINE said...

I hope you enjoy any gardening you take on. Please be sure to follow up and show the results.

Gilly said...

That's a lovely collection of plants. You've inspired me to get going on my neglected pots! I do have some winter pansies which are trying to get going after all the cold winter we had, and tulips are doing well. But we need a couple of big shrubs to replace two that had to go!

I was thinking heuchera whilst I was reading, and then found you had bought one!

Flowes said...

What a beautiful garden! I would have loved to walk there, and see all the gorgeous flowers! Thanks for sharing