Article Written by Becky Dumais
The prospect of adding colour to your porch or patio with container gardens is an exciting one and right now you’ll find a wide variety of colour, types and textures, to choose from – plus some unusual options such as fruit-bearing plants.
It’s summer and what do we like to see? Colour, lots of it, and the brighter the better. Texture is also popular now, says Colleen Zimmermann, Nursery and Perennial Buyer for Terra Greenhouses. “I’ve seen a lot of planters that don’t count on the flower colour necessarily. For example, in a planter of hostas, ferns and ornamental grasses the mix of textures is amazing.” She says this combination is also ideal for shadier areas.
It’s also OK to mix annuals and perennials. Zimmermann says many perennials work well in containers. “In my own planters I often put some dwarf shrubs in,” she adds. “The little lime hydrangea is a great size as well as euonymus. They work well giving different textures and weight to the container.”
Wim Moester, owner of bloom ’84 in Oakville, decorates the flower boxes at Julia Ristorante using seasonal plants he feels match the concept of the restaurant. “Hibiscus, oleander and croton will flower all summer and don’t need a lot of maintenance,” he says.
Eat What You Sew
On top of the anything goes mix and match plantings, Zimmermann says there are no boundaries anymore, nor are there restrictions – good news for those with smaller yards. “Anything can go in a container – even edibles,” she says. Terra has potato plants in pots, blueberries and strawberries, all ready for you to grow and enjoy. “Even some of the dwarf fruit trees can be grown in pots,” she adds.
Foodies will appreciate options for growing herbs. Zimmermann says doing a collection of containers is trendy too. “You can have containers with bright pops of colour, and also some that are more useful and contain different herbs, fruit or vegetables. Blueberry bushes are quite attractive – strawberries too because they also flower and bear fruit.” For an unconventional look, strawberry plants look great in hanging baskets.
Collections, rather than single planters, can offer bigger impact. “Set a theme (colour wise) or if pots are available in sets some people buy the whole set rather than just a single planter,” says Zimmermann. Try different taller plants too. “Some of the dwarf Japanese maples work really well in pots and that gives you some height, which is more unique than a typical spike plant in the middle,” she adds.
Sweet & Succulent
For something truly unique, bloom ’84 carries a beautiful assortment of succulent wreaths. Not only are they visually appealing with variations in colour and shape, they will also last and they require less maintenance. “They also look wonderful on the table and we can do outdoor planters with succulents. It looks beautiful,” says Moester. Although succulents are generally smaller, he designed a planter of larger succulents for Atelier Hair Salon in downtown Oakville.
Metal urns have been cast aside this season, making way for new materials – some in gorgeous flaming oranges, reds or peaceful blues. Moester advises against cast iron, since they rust and will stain the patio or concrete. He cautions against metal containers as well. “While they look modern and clean, they can get very hot in the summer, drying out the roots of your plants in the process. If you have one or prefer this look, use an insert,” he says. Polyresin or fiberstone containers are better options.
The choices for container gardens are endless, whether it’s for homegrown chives and potatoes, to serve fresh blueberry compote and strawberry shortcake from your own patio plantings, or you simply want to revel in hits of colour to add extra brightness to your summer.
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