A pot of color to hurry spring along

I freely admit that I’m an impatient gardener. I walked around the garden today, noticing wonderful signs of spring popping up in nook after nook. Tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinth have broken through the soil. The first crocus flowers have emerged but not yet opened. Dark maroon foliage has sprouted on many of the roses. With the official start of spring just 17 days away, you’d think I’d be content to let spring color slowly unfold.

Nope. I made the mistake of going to one of our local garden centers yesterday for a couple of items I needed for another project. Well, the mistake was actually walking out into the greenhouse to see if the spring annuals had arrived. It’s hard to describe the almost lustful feeling that consumes a gardener at the first sight of spring color on the garden center benches, but I was finding it difficult to think of anything else after returning home.

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Under the crabapple

This is a container I planted two weeks ago with Impatiens Harmony® ‘Salmon’ and ‘Raspberry Cream’ along with Allysum Crystal Clear® (white, lavender and purple). The pot sits below the crabapple at the western end of our driveway border to greet visitors walking around to the backyard gardens.

The plants were purchased at Sunrise Greenouse and Woldhuis Farms in Grant Park, IL.

Creativity in small packages

It had been a few years since I last attended the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, and this year’s show was a completely different design style than I remember in the past. While I try to be positive in my writing, I have to honestly say that I was underwhelmed by most of the gardens at this year’s show. The use of stone and timbers was outstanding, but the plant selection and combination didn’t live up to past shows I remember.

As I walked the show floor, instead of being treated to large swaths of flowing gardens, I had to search for creativity in small packages. There were a number of container gardens throughout the show that were worth highlighting.

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Planting in a pickle jar

A few weeks ago, as I was searching through the extra pots down in our crawl space, I came across two stoneware pickling crocks that must have come from the collection of pottery that came into our possession when my in-laws sold their house and 10-acre farm. I’m always on the lookout for interesting containers to use for flower pots, so I instantly wondered why I had stored these in the crawl space instead of using them in the garden. I lugged them out of the crawl space and placed them on the back deck, so that I wouldn’t forget them when it came time to pot up this season’s tropicals and annuals.

Today, I got around to thinking about these two pickling urns and what I wanted to plant in them. I’d never grown herbs in pots before, and an herb garden in a pickling urn seemed poetically appropriate. After drilling drainage holes in each container with a cement bit, I went out this afternoon in search of herbs.

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A welcoming sight

The 2009 growing year started with a little uncertainty. With the economy on shaky legs, I wasn’t sure just how much money I should be pouring into the garden, especially on containers since they are usually filled with “disposable” annuals. So, I decided to put the emphasis on our front porch containers — a sight I see on my way to work in the morning and when I arrive home in the evening.

The kid and I went shopping to buy plants to fill the seven containers (four large, three small) that frame our entryway and garage. We came in at a little under $150 for the plants, which included:

  • Schizanthus ‘Treasure Trove Deep Rose Bicolor’
  • Pennisetum setaceum ‘Graceful Grasses Rubrum’
  • Argyrantheum frutescens ‘Butterfly’
  • Hosta ‘Fanfare’
  • Sweet Potato ‘Blackie’
  • Hedera helix ‘Golden Ingot’
  • Ranunculus (Vigoro Red)
  • Bush hibiscus
  • Assorted petunias, geranium and pansies

One of the best parts was the kid getting really involved in where the plants would go in the containers, and helping to actually plant them. A real bonding moment for us “making pretty things for mom.”