Category Archives: Container

Succulent Arrangements…A Sampling

Succulents can be quite colorful...

Succulents can be quite colorful…

Have you found a spot this year to try a few succulents? These tough plants will make any sunny  spot more interesting, come in all shapes and sizes, and can be combined with air plants and others that don’t mind dry feet.

These oval containers offer interesting planting possibilities...

These oval containers offer interesting planting possibilities…

 

 

 

 

 

A succulent planting in a stone bowl...

A succulent planting in a customer’s stone trough…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think about using them with purslane, portulaca, creeping thyme, Mexican heather, bulbine, yuccas, or anything else that likes it hot and dry.

These will hang on porch columns...

Molly’s cork pieces will hang on porch columns…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Succulents in a Clam Shell

 

Going into the warmer months many succulents can be used.  Some are winter hardy, and those we’ll always have outside in the nursery. Tender succulents that you’ll need to bring inside when fall arrives can be found in the greenhouse.Succulent Vertical Planter

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a dry, sunny spot in your landscape, try a few of the hardy sedums. If the drainage is good, they’ll be happy and will spread, though the test of their hardiness will be in the winter.

 

Succulents in Stone TroughHen and chicks (Sempervivum species) is extremely cold hardy and will breeze through the winter if they’re not waterlogged. Soggy, cold soil is definitely not to their liking!

Keep in mind that a single pot filled with one type of succulent can be as beautiful as many in combination and, with the right container, can be quite dramatic. So there’s no need to feel intimidated; just dive in, pick a plant you like, and have fun!

Posted by Kris Blevons

 

Here’s A Look At Our Plantings in the Southern Living Magazine’s Container Gardening Collector’s Edition!

One of our favorite things to do at the shop when there’s a little extra time is to create imaginative and creative plantings to give people ideas for their own planters. The trick is using the right plants for our southern climate,   and maintaining them well.  So there just happened to be quite a few growing out last summer when the producers of the Southern Living Container Gardening Special Collector’s Edition stopped in to see if there were any they could use. The special publication would be available on newstands beginning February, 2015. All of the plantings in this issue make sense for southern gardeners since they utilize the plants that will withstand the heat and humidity we all contend with.

I wanted to do something a little different in this cone shaped basket, so I started with a pot of chives and added rhoes (oyster plant) Echeverias and trailing string of pearls for a textural feast... Photo Courtesy Southern Living

I wanted to do something a little different in this cone shaped basket, so I started with a pot of chives and added rhoes (oyster plant) Echeverias and trailing string of pearls for a textural feast…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

One of my favorite shade planting designs because of how wonderfully it grew out after this picture was taken. The 'Babywing' pink begonia was a showstopper, growing through the large 'Garden White' caladiums and the carex 'Evergold' mingled with the silver waffle plant, (hemigraphis) trailing over the edge beautifully... Photo Courtesy Southern Living

One of my favorite shade planting designs because of how wonderfully it grew out after this picture was taken. The ‘Babywing’ pink begonia was a showstopper, growing through the large ‘Garden White’ caladiums and the carex ‘Evergold’ mingled with the silver waffle plant, (hemigraphis) trailing over the edge beautifully…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Between myself, Jamie, Molly, Pinkie, and Lauren, we are well represented in this informative issue, and I am so proud! Here’s a look at our designs (You can pick up a copy of the magazine while  it’s on newsstands until May, 2015).   Look HERE to see a post on a few more  of our plantings from  last summer including a couple of these right after they were planted.   Posted by Kris Blevons

I wanted to capture a Mediterranean feel with this summer planting in a large terra cotta bowl. I started with a variegated yucca and added drought tolerant silver thyme and sedums, a trailing jade plant (portulacaria) and a wispy Mexican feather grass (Nasella tenuissima)... Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

I wanted to capture a Mediterranean feel with this summer planting in a large terra cotta bowl. I started with a variegated yucca and added drought tolerant silver thyme and sedums, a trailing jade plant (portulacaria) and a wispy Mexican feather grass (Nasella tenuissima)…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Large rounded leaves of a flap jack kalanchoe, thin, strappy leaves of an agave and trailing peperomia all combine beautifully in Molly's composition... Photo Courtesy Southern Living

Large rounded leaves of a flap jack kalanchoe, thin, strappy leaves of an agave and trailing peperomia all combine beautifully in Molly’s composition…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Three succulent plantings by Molly certainly showcase all the variety available... Photo Courtesy Southern Living

Three succulent plantings by Molly certainly showcase all the variety available…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

An Alocasia is the star of this "large and in charge" planting by Jamie. She added Alternanthera 'Ruby Star' to fill out the base... Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

An Alocasia is the star of this “large and in charge” planting by Jamie. She added Alternanthera ‘Ruby Star’ to fill out the base…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

We love using houseplants in shade containers through the summer. Molly used various shapes and textures here, beginning with an anthurium and adding the parlor palm, agloenema and ivy... Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

We love using houseplants in shade containers through the summer. Molly used various shapes and textures here, beginning with an anthurium and adding the parlor palm, agloenema and ivy…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Jamie used Oncidium orchids and Pilea 'Aquamarine' in this vertical planter... Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Jamie used Oncidium orchids and Pilea ‘Aquamarine’ in this vertical planter…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

A glazed, blue footed urn was the inspiration for Pinkie's pink, blue, and white combination...the caladiums are a sun tolerant variety called 'Aaron' Photo Courtesy Southern Living

A glazed, blue footed urn was the inspiration for Pinkie’s pink, blue, and white combination…the caladiums are a sun tolerant variety called ‘Aaron’.
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Succulents! Look at all the different leaf shapes and sizes here...Lauren's vertical planter is wood from a pallet with pots wired on. Photo Courtesy Southern Living

Succulents! Look at all the different leaf shapes and sizes here…Lauren’s vertical planter is wood from a pallet with pots wired on.
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Begin your planting combinations with one plant you love, and add to it. I wanted to use this coleus, then added the trailing torenia and SunPatiens to compliment it... Photo Southern Living Magazine

Begin your planting combinations with one plant you love, and add to it. I wanted to use this coleus, then added the trailing torenia and SunPatiens to compliment it…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

This brown bowl I designed was actually featured in another post on our website titled 'A Brown Bowl, 2 Ways'. This is the chartreuse, blue and white version for sun... Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

This brown bowl I designed was actually featured in another post on our website titled ‘A Brown Bowl, 2 Ways‘. This is the chartreuse, blue and white version for sun…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

A pretty blue glazed pot was the starting point for my planting using a dramatic elephant ear called Maui Gold. Look at that color! This was featured on the cover too... Photo Courtesy Southern Living

A pretty blue glazed pot was the starting point for my planting using a dramatic elephant ear called Maui Gold. Look at that color! This was featured on the cover too…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Hypertufa containers work well for herbs and flowers. In this bowl I used a lavender, ornamental golden oregano and added a splash of color with pink vinca... Photo Courtesy Southern Living

Hypertufa containers work well for herbs and flowers. In this bowl I used a lavender, ornamental golden oregano and added a splash of color with pink vinca…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

In this large shade planter I decided to use a trailing 'Neon' Pothos instead of the ubiquitous chartreuse potato vine. Don't be afraid to use houseplants in outdoor shade planters! Here coleus, caladiums and an airy white euphorbia complete the design... Photo Courtesy Southern Living Design

In this large shade planter I decided to use a trailing ‘Neon’ Pothos instead of the ubiquitous chartreuse potato vine. Don’t be afraid to use houseplants in outdoor shade planters! Here coleus, caladiums and an airy white euphorbia complete the design…
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

I filled this old wheelbarrow up with lots of zinnias, fan flower and vinca, then added some purple basil, ornamental Kent's Beauty oregano, and scented geranium for additional foliage and texture. It bloomed all summer! Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

I filled this old wheelbarrow up with lots of zinnias, fan flower and vinca, then added some purple basil, ornamental Kent’s Beauty oregano, and scented geranium for additional foliage and texture. It bloomed all summer!
Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

These Miniature Gardens are Centerpieces…

 

At the end of a path, there's a bench with a book...

At the end of a path, there’s a bench with a book…

I recently received an email letting me know of a much anticipated  visit to Birmingham of a certain Connecticut gardener, Douglas Thomas. She was coming on the invitation of a friend and member of one of the oldest garden clubs in the city, and, to celebrate her visit, a joint meeting of  two Garden Club of America groups had been arranged at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Through an arbor...the cat wants the goldfish in that bowl!

Through an arbor…the cat wants the goldfish in that bowl!

The miniature gardens shown here were designed as centerpieces for a small gathering in a private home to honor her visit. Ms. Thomas gardens on a grand scale, so the hostess and I decided having miniature gardens as part of the tablescape was bound to

A seating area under a  Chamaecyparis "tree" and a pond, with sedum 'Ogon' as a "groundcover"...

A seating area under a Chamaecyparis “tree” and a pond, with sedum ‘Ogon’ as a “groundcover”…

be something unexpected and fun. First a little background:

A croquet set and puppy underneath a chamaecyparis "tree"...

A croquet set and puppy underneath a chamaecyparis “tree”…

A gazing ball in the distance...

A gazing ball in the distance…

Douglas Thomas is only  the third owner of Twin Maples, a beautiful 400 acre estate in Connecticut. She would be in Birmingham in early February speaking on it and of the 40 acre meadow that she and her late husband, Wilmer, created with the help of noted Pennsylvania landscape designer Larry Weaner.

On the table...

On the table…

In 2011, the Foundation for Landscape Studies awarded her their Placemaker Award. See the link HERE to read more about this award.

Delving more thoroughly to learn more before going to hear her speak,  I came across a New York Times article from 2008, which described the meadow in their headline as “The Natural Look, With Much Effort.” This phrase could certainly be applied to any garden I thought, including miniature versions!

Miniature Garden Centerpiece - 2 years earlier...

Miniature Garden Centerpiece – 2 years earlier…

These particular miniature gardens had actually  been created two years earlier for another eventful gathering, and, due to the owner’s  exceptional care,  many of the original plants were still thriving. The chamaecyparus “trees” had grown (Just as real trees do!),  and the succulent landscape around one of the ponds only needed a bit of pinching back. Still, there were areas that needed fresh “landscape” plantings.

On the table...2 years later...

On the table…2 years later…

Some of these new plants included the addition of a fresh angelvine climbing on the arbor and air plants at the entrance to the succulent garden. In another,  sedum ‘Ogon’ was added near a pond as a “groundcover”. More tiny ferns and some selaginella were added to the existing tiny leaved maidenhair fern  in the largest garden, and beyond it a strawberry begonia was planted to frame the rabbit hutch. Great care was taken to place plants with like water needs together.

The path leads to a seating area beyond the rabbit hutch...

The path leads to a seating area beyond the rabbit hutch…

With careful attention all of the “hardscape” paths and placement of small pieces were  redone for each garden, and some redesigning of certain areas was accomplished as well. This takes a good bit of time and a lot of patience, but,  above all, it’s quite a bit of fun too.

Through the arbor...

Through the arbor…

It really is exactly like laying out a real garden, with decisions of where the paths need to be, what materials they should be made from, what they lead to, and more questions  needing to be answered to make it realistic. Scale of materials is very important too and can be difficult to accomplish, but it makes all the difference!

 

 

I received a phone call from the hostess the morning after the dinner party. “Your ears should have been burning,” she said. “They were a hit! Everyone enjoyed them, and kept finding new things the more they looked at them.”  What a compliment, and how kind of her to pass it on.

Take a look HERE for another post on miniature gardens, and type in “miniature gardens” in the search field for more.

 

Haven’t Been In Lately? Here’s What We’ve Been Up To…

Red tulips, a pretty pink hydrangea, a rex begonia and greenery...

Red tulips, a pretty pink hydrangea, a rex begonia and greenery…

Cyclamen, Callas and Daffodils are a cheery mix...

Cyclamen, Callas and Daffodils are a cheery mix…

This arrangement was to celebrate the birth of a baby girl...

This arrangement was to celebrate the birth of a baby girl…

February is full of bright colors...primroses, hyacinths and tête á tête narcissus...

February is full of bright colors…primroses, hyacinths and tête á tête narcissus…

A pretty arrangement for Valentine's Day. This would be pretty for any occasion this time of year though...this one showcases a calla and a beautiful pink hydrangea...

A pretty arrangement for Valentine’s Day. This would be pretty for any occasion this time of year though…this one showcases a calla and a beautiful pink hydrangea…

A customer's container became home to a bird's nest Fern and agave...

A customer’s container became home to a bird’s nest Fern and agave…

Outside the greenhouse can look a little drab this time of year, but, if  you’ve just passed us by, have you ever missed out!

Primroses in the greenhouse...

Primroses in the greenhouse…

 

 

The greenhouse has been packed full with blooming beauties and with Valentine’s Day just past, we’ve been putting together the prettiest arrangements for gifts and filling containers with all sorts of plants for centerpieces too.

This cork bark planter is filled with succulents, spring bulbs, candytuft and primroses...

This cork bark planter is filled with succulents, spring bulbs, candytuft and primroses…

Succulent pots at the front door…

 

At the entrance...

In bloom at the entrance to the greenhouse…

Echeverias blooming in a tiny pot…

Here’s a sampling of what the greenhouse has looked like.

Tacca is getting more adventurous, between getting pets from everyone...

Tacca is getting more adventurous, between getting pets from everyone…

A sweet pot filled with a Rieger begonia, ferns and ivy...

A sweet pot filled with a Rieger begonia, Fern and Ivy…

 

 

 

White and yellow Phalaenopsis orchid arrangement with azaleas and succulents....

White and yellow Phalaenopsis orchid arrangement with azaleas and succulents….

Next time you’re driving by, take a moment out of your busy day to stop and smell the flowers!

Cattleya orchids and air plants in the afternoon light...

Cattleya orchids and air plants in the afternoon light…

A calla lily azalea, campanula and fern in shades of purple, lavender, white and green...

A calla lily azalea, campanula and fern in shades of purple, lavender, white and green…

Hydrangeas, azaleas and purple campanula

Hydrangeas, azaleas and purple campanula

Wire Hearts for Valentine's Day...

Wire Hearts for Valentine’s Day…

Need a Valentine? We Can Help!

Mixed Planting with Téte a Téte NarcissusJust a quick post to point out the many beautiful flowers in the greenhouse. Our baskets and containers  are one of a kind…special creations custom made for each order.

Orchid Arrangements

 

 

 

 

If you have a basket, bowl, or other container you’d like us to fill with beautiful plants, just bring it in and we’ll take it from there, or choose one of ours.  Valentine’s Day is this Saturday, so get your order in soon!Orchid Arrangement

 

 

Some of the many blooming plants we have in now, or will be getting in this week, include cyclamen, campanula, primroses, rieger begonias, narcissus, violets,  orchids, hydrangeas, hyacinths, freesias, azaleas, and more. Stop in to browse or give us a call to place an order for pick up or delivery.

 

More Samplings of Spring 2015 – Cast Stone Faux Bois Planters, Bird Baths and Statuary

Cast stone Faux Bois Planters - 2015Cast stone Faux Bois Planter - 2015This blog post picks up from the last one, showcasing more of our newest cast stone statuary and planter offerings for 2015.

We’ll begin with the faux bois planters in four different sizes. They would be lovely in a rustic, shady setting, complimented with ferns, hostas,  heucheras and other woodland plants to emphasize the tree bark effect that faux bois mimics. These are heavy pieces that will definitely anchor their space and won’t tip over or be blown over in storms.Cast stone Faux Bois Planters -2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cast stone planter - 2015Here too are a few more urn shaped planters. But, unlike many urns, these have a generous planting space,  offering enough room for a pretty display of seasonal color or a more permanent choice of a shrub or possibly herbs.Cast stone planters - 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cast stone birdbaths - 2015Bird baths add elegance and style to any landscape in addition to their all important purpose of offering water to our feathered garden inhabitants. These timeless designs could work in any setting.

 

 

And some smaller pieces:  Saint Francis and Saint Fiacré, a Buddha, a sweet little boy reading his book, a gargoyle…the kinds of pieces that need their own special place and make your garden uniquely yours.Cast stone statuary - 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RoosterWe even have  roosters and a chicken – perfect for any of you who keep neighborhood fowl in your yards! They really are fun and are sure to start a conversation over the proverbial fence.Cast stone Rooster and Chicken - 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planters - 2015Finally, three quite different choices:  large terra cotta colored planters that could be perfect around a sun drenched pool, a pair of basket weave pots (a classic design), and some dark colored Vietnamese style planters if you prefer a more rustic look.Cast stone planters - 2015

 

 

 

 

Planters - 2015So if you’ve been looking for the perfect planters for your home, we just might have what you need. If you’re in the area, stop by and take a look!

As of January, 2016, many of these planters have been sold and new offerings are available. Take a look HERE for the latest planters and statuary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sampling of New Planters for Spring, 2015

imageEach January our orders of planters come in for the new year and beyond, beautiful cast stone beauties designed to last longer than a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

Yes, they’re heavy, but they are also the highest quality available, designed to add value and style to any outdoor landscape.

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And, if you’re in the area, remember we deliver too; so no worries about how you’ll get them home.image

 

 

 

 

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This is just a tiny sampling of what we have in stock now, and there’s more to come, including light-weight options. As you can see, there are all sizes and shapes offered to compliment any style home.image

 

 

 

 

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Some are elaborate…or you might want something with clean, classic  lines. If you’ve been thinking about adding some planters to your home landscape, now is the time to peruse some great options.New Planters - Spring 2015

 

New Statuary - Spring 2015In addition to the many planters, there are also statuary pieces of Saint Francis, Saint Fiacre and more. Stay tuned for pictures of those in future posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Holiday Inspiration – Arrangements, Flowers and Greens – Part 2

Redtwig dogwood stems echo the red of this striking bowl...

Redtwig dogwood stems echo the red of this striking bowl, filled with rieger begonias, amaryllis and ferns…

Simply hydrangeas...

Simply hydrangeas…

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement - Close-Up- Lady Slipper Orchi, Air Plants

Lady slipper orchid…

The greenhouse is literally overflowing with so many flowers we’ve had to move most of them onto the tables outside.

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement

Traditional red poinsettias…

Holiday Arrangement -  Shooting Star Hydrangea,Amaryllis, Curly Willow

With curly willow, cinnamon sticks and cut greens…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of these holiday flowers – hydrangeas, amaryllis, paperwhites, azaleas, stephanotis, flowering jasmine, and cyclamen – prefer the cool temperatures.  It works out well, unless temperatures drop below freezing; then the nursery carts are loaded up and they’re moved back into the warmth of the greenhouse.

Phalaenopsis orchid in mercury glass with cut greens and berries...

Jamie added cut greens and berries to this phalaenopsis orchid in a Mercury glass container…

Orchids and air plants...

Orchids and air plants…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement - Amaryllis, Shooting Star Hydrangea, Fantail Willow

Amaryllis, hydrangea, jasmine…

 

Holiday Orchid Arrangement with Phalaenopsis Orchids and Jasmine

A gift of orchids and jasmine…

There it’s a riot of color, with orchids seemingly in every nook and cranny, trays of ferns and other foliage plants in abundance, and of course, poinsettias too.  It’s a crazy, slightly chaotic time of the year!

 

 

 

 

The two weeks prior to Christmas find us focused on projects big and small in the design area, and there’s not much time for anything else.

A tiny pot with cut greens...

A tiny pot with cut greens…

 

 

 

We’ll put plants in just about anything, including porcelain and glazed bowls, mercury glass containers, pots of every size and shape, jardinieres, wooden boxes, dough bowls, silver pieces and everything else imaginable. You can too!

 

 

 

Holiday Inspiration – Arrangements, Flowers and Greens – Part 1

A trio of miniature orchids...

A trio of miniature orchids Jamie put together…

Stephanotis Wreath

Stephanotis Wreath

Amaryllis in a very large bowl...

Amaryllis in a very large bowl…

 

 

 

 

The last few weeks have flown by in a colorful blur of customers, Christmas trees, and deliveries of beautiful plants and flowers. Phalaenopsis Orchid Arrangement with Curly Willow

 

 

Holiday Arrangement

Miniature poinsettias, cut greens and a lemon cypress in a low tray Jamie designed…

Now Christmas is almost here, though soon enough a new year will be upon us, filled with possibility and fresh beginnings.

 

Lady Slipper Orchid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement with Paperwhites, Air Plants, Cut Greens and Curly Willow

Paperwhites, cut greens and curly willow…

To celebrate, here is the first post of a few of our arrangements of flowers and cut greens from the past few weeks, our gift to you this holiday season.

Holiday Greenery...

Pinkie’s cut greens and berries…

The End Of The Season…Fall Arrangements

A reindeer moss wreath, with burlap and pods...

A reindeer moss wreath, with burlap and pods…

A copper planter for a table. Jamie's colorful fall design of chartreuse, orange and white...

A copper planter for a table. Jamie’s colorful fall design of chartreuse, orange and white…

Autumn  passes far too quickly. As usual, when a season is nearing the end, I find myself wishing I’d made the time to take more pictures of the many arrangements that we’ve created the past few weeks. Jamie, Molly, and I looked through those we had and here are a few of them – a simple goodbye to the autumn season for another year as we set our sights ahead to the holidays.

A vignette Jamie created with an orchid, sedum, tiny pumpkins and more...

A vignette Jamie created with an orchid, sedum, tiny pumpkins and more…

Pinkie used little white pumpkins, succulents, and bittersweet in a dough bowl...

Pinkie used little white pumpkins, succulents, and bittersweet in this dough bowl…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This simple tray became home to a gourd, mushrooms and moss, with Heuchera and autumn Fern adding more rich color...

My simple tray became home to a gourd, mushrooms and moss, with Heuchera and Autumn Fern adding more rich color…

A dough bowl Jamie designed...

A dough bowl Jamie designed…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall is a favorite time, as the materials we work with are so interesting and organic. There’s none of the shiny, glittery, in-your-face glitz that will be here, oh, so soon enough, with the approach of Christmas. No, this time of year is quieter, as we embrace the down-to-earth beauty of mushrooms, soft green moss, natural branches, dark wiry angelvine, pods of all kinds, and interesting gourds. I enjoy the combinations that result, melded at times with the muted tones of burlap and raffia.

Molly's spirited fall arrangement with bright yellow Oncidium orchids...

Molly’s spirited fall arrangement with bright yellow Oncidium orchids…

I really enjoyed creating this "woodsy" piece...

I really enjoyed creating this “woodsy” piece…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall flowers in pretty pots for a fall luncheon...

For a fall luncheon..

Oncidium Orchid 'Twinkle' Arrangement With Okra Pods and Pinecones

Oncidium ‘Twinkle’ in a sweet combination of Jamie’s. Okra pods and pinecones add even more texture…

My simple lady slipper orchid arrangement, watched over by pretty Tacca, our garden shop kitty…

 

 

Dená carved this pretty blue pumpkin, and daughter, Molly, planted it...

Dená carved this pretty blue pumpkin and daughter, Molly, planted it…

We see such interesting pieces in the fall too. Earthy dough bowls, dark metal planters and copper containers, low wooden trays just perfect for mossy vignettes, a majolica bowl the right size and shape for a woodsy arrangement. Soon enough we’ll be making quite different sorts of combinations through the holidays, with quite different materials. For now though, I’m content to enjoy these last few days of fall.

A colorful fall piece Molly created using houseplants and mini pumpkins...

A final fall piece Molly created using houseplants and mini pumpkins…

 

Amaryllis – Beauty In A Bulb

Amaryllis, unquestionably, are one of the most dramatic and elegant of flowers. That bold, beautiful blooms of all colors and sizes can emerge from such a drab, unassuming brown bulb is amazing. They are truly a wonder of nature!

Decorative moss and pebbles dress up this amaryllis bulb...

Decorative moss and pebbles dress up this amaryllis bulb…

Amaryllis in the greenhouse...

Amaryllis in the greenhouse…

Our final shipment of amaryllis bulbs arrived the other day and now is the perfect time to pot them up for the holidays. It’s so easy to do too.  My  friend, Nancy Wallace of Wallace Gardens  in Atlanta,  swears by soaking the bulb in Haven Brand Manure Tea, an odorless tea that we have in stock now, for an even better display.

In a shallow saucer filled with about an inch of this concentrated tea, soak the roots of the bulbs for no more than 20 minutes, then plant. From her picture I featured in the above link, she’s on the right track. I’ll be soaking mine this year!

Amaryllis arrangement...

Amaryllis arrangement…

So, you want to purchase an amaryllis bulb (or more than one) for yourself or as gifts for friends? First, you need to know that the size of the bulb corresponds to the size and amount of blooms. Their sizes range from “miniature” amaryllis bulbs to jumbo amaryllis and there are midsize bulbs as well.

Large blooms of this amaryllis offer a contrast to the fragrant jasmine...

Large blooms of this amaryllis offer a contrast to the fragrant jasmine…

Beware of gift boxes and bags already prepackaged. I’ve stopped carrying them because, inevitably, the bulb begins to grow in the box prior to purchase. Believe me, there’s nothing sadder than an amaryllis, stem bent toward the light, growing sideways out of a box. It’s just not right!

Potting them up is quite simple. First, soak your amaryllis bulb as described above so the roots rehydrate. Next, find a pot that is no more than an inch or so wider than the bulb and fill it with good quality potting soil (We use Fafard.) about half way up the pot. Next, position the bulb on the soil, pushing the roots firmly in place. The “shoulder”, or widest portion of the bulb, should be above the soil. Fill in around the bulb, push down gently, and water with some of the remaining manure tea.

Amaryllis Arrangement

The hardest part is the wait for the bud to begin to emerge. It may take just a few days in a warm, sunny room, but it can just as easily take longer. Amaryllis don’t always cooperate with our timetables. Take a look at this “Holiday Flowers” post from last year and you’ll see what I mean. When you do see new growth starting to emerge, begin to water just so the soil stays slightly moist and watch the magic happen! You can also “dress up” the top of the soil with decorative moss or pebbles. Amaryllis

In bloom amaryllis can get quite tall  and will usually benefit from some type of staking. In addition to simple bamboo stakes,  stems of red and yellow twig dogwood, birch, curly willow, or branches from your landscape can be used. Insert the staking material at the edge of the bulb and tie it with raffia or ribbon.

Amaryllis, budded, with ferns, and stems of pussywillow...

Amaryllis, budded, with ferns, and stems of pussywillow…

The pictures here show what we’ve done in the past using amaryllis. They make wonderful presents during the holiday season and simply watching the bloom stalk grow taller and the enormous buds begin to open is a gift in itself!

In addition to bulbs that are available for you to plant, we also will be receiving many amaryllis already potted up from our growers. So, if you’re in the Birmingham area, there’s  no excuse not to have one of these holiday favorites!

 

 

 

Try Some Compost Tea This Year – Haven Brand Authentic Tea Is Easy To Use!

imagePlants are like people; they need food to grow…and nutritious food for best health.  I would take that one step further and say that, not only should you feed the plant, you need to add organic amendments and nutrients to create healthy soil that your plants will  thrive in.

My friend Annie Haven of Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew created her product  with this principle in mind.  On her ranch in California (It’s been in her family since the 1800’s!), the cattle are free ranging and graze in native grass pastures, free of antibiotics, hormone-added grain, and pesticides. The manure that is produced is dehydrated, then packaged, and the tea bags are shipped out and ready for you to steep. What you make can either be used as a soil drench for roses and other plants or as a foliar spray.

Little "tea" bags, ready to brew!

Little “tea” bags, ready to brew!

At Oak Street Garden Shop we’ve carried Annie Haven’s Moo Poo Tea since last spring.  The most popular has been the Soil Conditioner Premium Manure Tea, labeled for houseplants, container plants, the vegetable garden, shade plants,  shrubs and lawns. Both are in sturdy, sewn-together “tea bags”,  ready to brew. I’ve used it at the shop and in my own garden.

They couldn’t be any easier to use; just drop each bag in a 1 gallon, or up to a 5 gallon container, fill with tap water, cover and allow to steep for one to three days.  Then use it to water any plants that need a good, rich organic boost.

steeping...

steeping…

One of my friends in Atlanta, Nancy Wallace, of Wallace Gardens, uses Annie Haven’s tea each year on her amaryllis bulbs and reports that her blooms are easily one third larger than they were on the same size bulbs before she started using this tea. She  soaks them in it prior to planting, then waters them  with it until they bloom. I’ve seen pictures of her amaryllis, and they are truly impressive.

Wallace Gardens beautiful amaryllis..

Wallace Gardens beautiful amaryllis..

Another way she uses it is as a “Super Brew”, placing 4-6 bags in a jug to make a very concentrated mixture. Then, using a hose end sprayer, she foliar sprays all of her plants with it. Summer foliar feeding like this also seems to deter bugs!

For a quick tea, if there’s none at hand, put a bag in a bucket and fill it up with water. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then begin squeezing the bag over and over; you’ll see the tea releasing into the water. Continue doing this 20-30 times and you’ve got yourself a fast made tea.

When you’re finished with the tea bags, cut them open with a pair of scissors and add the contents to your container gardens…it’s all useable!

Pricing for individual tea bags is $4.95 or you can purchase 3 for $12.95.

 

 

 

 

New Fall Shipments Have Arrived – Pretty Pots For The Holidays or Any Time

We see endless possibilities for these pretty pots...

We see endless possibilities for these pretty pots…

Small urns…

Pots - fall 2014

Pretty pots and cachepots...

Mercury glass and cachepots…

How beautiful would these be as part of a holiday centerpiece?

How beautiful would these be as part of a holiday centerpiece?

Perfect for the holidays...

Perfect for the holidays…

October is a favorite month of ours for many reasons. The garden is changing over from summer flowers to the pretty pansies and more that will shine next spring, and all of the beautiful gourds and pumpkins make their appearance.  In the greenhouse, we know it’s October because we begin to get boxes upon boxes of fall and holiday inventory that Jamie found at market. She, Molly, Pinkie and Angie have been busy unpacking, pricing, moving, and displaying all the pretty new items – perfect to put holiday flowers in for arrangements and holiday center pieces. Let’s take a look…

The shelves are full!

The shelves are full!

 

 

Just the right size…

Pots - Fall 2014

Green and white always appeals...

Green and white always appeals…

Miniature Conifers – Just Right For Miniature Gardening and More

It has been quite some time since we’ve had dwarf shrubs and tiny pots of conifers available, and, with the rise in popularity of miniature and container gardening, I decided it was time to see what might be worth getting in for fall miniature gardening projects. Truthfully, these aren’t just for that purpose but can also be used in containers, and all of them are suitable for the garden too.Miniature Garden with Dwarf Evergreens

With this in mind I placed the order with a very reputable grower in the Northwest. And, even though they’re from quite a distance both in miles and climate, I’m hoping these selections will work here as well. I worked with the salesperson to find the best possible plants for the Southeast, and these cultivars are interesting and not too expensive if you’d like to give some a try.

The day finally came when they arrived, and each one was unpacked and watered, then placed in flats and set into the nursery. I found time the other day to put together a couple of miniature gardens as examples of what can be done with these diminutive offerings. The small evergreens really add a sense of reality to a miniature landscape.

Miniature conifers. Front-Back L-R: Ulmus parviflora 'Hokkaido';Cotoneaster microphyllus 'Thymifolius'; Ilex cremate 'JerseyJewel'; Juniperus communis 'Miniature'; Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Thowell'Here also are pictures of a couple of groupings I pulled together to give you an idea of what is available as of October, 2014. In the first picture, left-right and front-back, they’re as follows:

Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’: This tiny dwarf Chinese or lacebark elm should only grow 1″-2″ a year. It’s much sought after for bonsai, trough, and miniature gardens, and its bark exfoliates with age. It may grow to just 1′ tall over a period of 5 years.

Cotoneaster microphyllus ‘Thymifolius’: Thyme leaf cotoneaster. This tiny version has red berries just like its larger relative, and it’s branches can be trained upright to form “trees” in a miniature garden.

Ilex crenata  ‘Jersey Jewel’:  A holly with unique structural form, this one is also good for rock gardens.

Juniperus communis ‘Miniature’: A slow-growing ( 2″-4″ a year) bluish-green juniper with a narrow growth habit. Also good for rock gardens in part shade. Mature height is 3′  and 1′ wide.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Thoweii’: A narrow upright specimen, it will grow roughly 3″-6″ a year. It matures into a fairly narrow tree. Errant branches can be pruned to maintain the spire-like shape.

Miniature conifers. Front-Back L-R; Juniperus pfitzeriana 'Golden Joy'; Juniperus horizontalis'GoldStrike'; Taxus cuspidata' 'NanaAurescens'; Chmaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Lutea'; Juniperus communist 'Gold Cone'; Cryptomeria japonica 'Twinkle Toes'Interesting choices, right? Here’s another grouping, again L-R and front-back:

Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Golden Joy’: This juniper has a spreading habit and will get larger, increasing in size by 3″-6″ a year. Still, an interesting choice for a container until it outgrows it; then find a place for it in the landscape.

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Gold Strike’: Vivid yellow foliage on this spreading juniper makes quite a statement in a container. This one will need protection from our hot summer sun; give it some shade, especially in the afternoon. It’s a slow-growing, spreading dwarf juniper with a mature height of roughly 6″ and ultimate width 6″ in 10 years.

Taxus cuspidata ‘Nana Aurescens’: The new growth of this dwarf spreading (3′-4′) selection of Japanese yew is golden, hence the name ‘Aurescens’. Growth rate is estimated at 3″-6″ a year and ultimate height is 2′. Best grown in part shade, where foliage color will be a bit more chartreuse. Please be sure you have really good drainage if you try to grow this yew since it won’t tolerate wet, poorly drained soil.

Left: Juniperis communis 'Miniature' Right: Ulmus parviflora 'Hokkaido'

Left: Juniperis communis ‘Miniature’ Right: Ulmus parviflora ‘Hokkaido’

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’: New growth on this golden dwarf Hinoki  cypress  is a vibrant yellow, and the growth rate is 3″-5″ a year. It’s a beautiful specimen for containers or the small garden, rarely growing larger than 3′, with an upright, irregular, pyramidal habit.

Juniperus communis ‘Gold Cone’: Eventually this juniper will reach a height of 3′-5′ but has a narrow growth habit of only 1′-2′.

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Twinkle Toes’: A selection with very tight, congested foliage, it has a conical shape and irregular habit. An interesting specimen at its mature height of 2′-3′.

I don’t know about you but more than a few of these are now on my “want to grow” list, whether it’s in a miniature garden,  a pretty pot, or placed in a special spot in the landscape. Best of all, the pots are really small, so there’s no major hole digging to do!

We will have these in stock until they sell out; so, if you’re interested, come in and take a look soon. If you miss out on this selection, next spring will be your next chance!

Fall Container Planting…(There’s More Than Just Pansies Out There!)

Fall Planter With Chamaecyparis 'Crippsii'The temperatures are hopefully trending downward, and you’re thinking about redoing your summer plantings. There seem to be so many choices; it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at the garden shop, even though you probably thought you had it all figured out before you left home!

I’ve seen the slightly dazed look  on folks’ faces as they peruse the tables upon tables of pansies, violas, snapdragons, various herbs and ornamental greens. Invariably they turn to us with a bewildered look and say, “I have (insert number of pots here) and need to fill them. Can you help me?!”

Assuming you have at least a half days worth of sun for flowers, the usual pansies and violas will work just fine all on their own if you really don’t want to do a whole lot of thinking; but there’s so much more out there to play with! From the simplest addition of beautiful green curly parsley (It adds such great color and texture to a planting.) to a more complex mix of greens, grasses and herbs, there’s no limit to fun combinations.

Close up - fall planterThe large planter here is one of a pair, used at the top of stairs leading onto a wide open porch. I took my color cues from the red brick and cream color of the house in choosing my plants, using predominantly yellow with the evergreen Chamaecyparis ‘Crippsii’, yellow variegated  Acorus ‘Ogon’, golden creeping Jenny to trail, and Matrix ‘Lemon’ pansies. To this I added ornamental red mustard, and a chard with red stems called ‘Charlotte’. These will add big, bold leaves, beautiful foliage color, and added height.

Next, more flowers  with a trailing white pansy called Cool Wave White,  a few orange violas and a trailing rosemary  –  the brown grass trailing off to one side and tucked in the back as well is Carex ‘Toffee’. When the sun shines on this grass it glows!

Fall Planter - Cham 'Crippsii''These planters are quite large and can support this variety of plants. In smaller planters, a smaller shrub, some curly parsley, pansies and a trailing plant might be sufficient. Remember, more is always better in planters and windowboxes to give them a lush overflowing feel.These planters will make a definite statement as they grow out.

  • Tips For Maintaining Your Fall/Winter Planters:
  • – As always, keep faded blooms deadheaded.

– Don’t overwater.  As the weather cools in the fall and winter, it’s best to let planters go a bit drier.

– If plants like ornamental cabbage and parsley do get dry between watering, you’ll have some yellow leaves. Groom these and other plants regularly, removing any yellowing leaves that you see. Remember, they’re not going to turn green again!

– Watch the weather and be prepared to cover your planters if freezing temperatures are forecast. Prior to covering, water them thoroughly. Uncover them as soon as the temperatures are above freezing.

Some Interesting Choices To Use With Pansies And Violas In  Winter Planters:

  • Chamaecyparis obtusa – various selections;  they make excellent evergreen accents.
  • Cupressus ‘Carolina Sapphire’ – beautiful blue evergreen, good in the landscape also.
  • Rosemary – large evergreen herb, upright or trailing varieties.
  • Juniper – ‘Blue Point’
  • Thuja – ‘Golden Globe’ arborvitae, nice, rounded form.
  • Heuchera & Heucherella selections – evergreen perennials, interesting as a foliage element – airy blooms in spring.
  • Acorus – adds another texture to plantings; grasslike variegated leaves add color as well.
  • Ornamental Kale – ‘Redbor’ and ‘Winterbor’ are two very upright growing forms of kale,  but there are many others. ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Lacinato’ are also edible. In a normal to mild winter they’ll last til spring. As heat returns, they’ll “bolt”, or bloom, adding yellow flowers.
  • Ornamental Mustard – These add a bold leaf and a darker color to compositions.
  • Chard – another beautiful and edible addition to containers or garden beds.
  • Curly Parsley – Adds texture in winter plantings; also a beautiful shade of deep, clean green.
  • Golden Creeping Jenny – A useful trailing element, it may get knocked back in a freeze but adds color until then and will come back as temperatures moderate.
  • Muehlenbeckia, Angel Vine – tough as nails trailer. Will lose it’s leaves in a freeze but normally reappears in the spring. Protect it and it will be green through the winter in Birmingham.
  • Sweet Alyssum – not available for long in fall, but a nice addition to planters until it succumbs to freezing temperatures.
  • Poppies – available through the fall; worth trying if you haven’t. They hunker down through the winter but will fill out in the spring, adding their bright, papery blooms to liven any planting. Take care to not overwater under cool winter conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Favorites For Spring Flowers…A Primer On Pansies & Violas

Pansy Matrix Ocean Breeze MIx

Pansy Matrix Ocean Breeze MIx

Pansy Matrix Sunrise

Pansy Matrix Sunrise

Fall is planting time here in Birmingham, and pansies and violas are the stars of the show. Even if folks plant nothing else, it’s so easy to put a few of these spring beauties in a little spot in the garden, a pot, or a window box for the winter.

Panola Purple Face & Viola Sorbet Blueberry Cream

Panola Purple Face & Viola Sorbet Blueberry Cream

Pansy Dynamite Scarlet/Viola Sorbet Antique Shades/Viola Penny White

Pansy Dynamite Scarlet/Viola Sorbet Antique Shades/Viola Penny White

Pansy Majestic Giants Patricia

Pansy Majestic Giants Patricia

Pansy Dynamite Scarlet/Pansy Matrix Orange/Viola Sorbet Yellow

Pansy Dynamite Scarlet/Pansy Matrix Orange/Viola Sorbet Yellow

Oh but what a dizzying selection greets you at the garden shop! Tables upon tables of blooms…some diminutive, others large, some with solid colors, others with charming “faces”, all waiting for you to decide which of them to choose to add beauty to your landscape next spring – and even some color through the winter.

One rainy Saturday morning I put together a few sample combinations of pansies, violas, and mixtures of the two to show you a few options available for your planting pleasure…but keep in mind this is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to playing with color in your garden!

Remember to think about what else will be blooming in your garden come spring.  You may not want a pink pansy in front of your orange azaleas (Though I’ve been known to favor pink and orange in certain instances!), so think it through before you decide.

Another consideration to keep in mind is the color of your house.  My first summer in our home I decided I wanted an “English Garden” look out front, using pinks/purples and silvers.

I was so caught up in my vision that I forgot this color palette would look like blech in front of the brick – I was unhappy with it all summer and couldn’t wait to tear it all out come fall.

Now I use brighter colors and include poppies –  it looks so much better!  I save the more muted colors for the back of my house where I play with my “English Garden” and plant everything  I want to – including foxglove and snapdragons for spring interspersed with pansies and violas.

Viola Sorbet Purple Duet/Blue Blotch/Banana Cream

Viola Sorbet Purple Duet/Blue Blotch/Banana Cream

 

The difference between a pansy and a viola is primarily size and shade tolerance. The pansy bloom and plant is larger. Pansies need at least half a day of sun to bloom well; full sun all day is best, but remember, in the spring as the temperatures rise, they’ll play out faster in so much sun.

Violas are smaller in size and the blooms are smaller as well. However, violas put out massive amounts of small blooms and the plants attain a nice rounded size which makes up for those diminutive  flowers. Violas can tolerate less sun, though, as with the pansies, at least half a day sun is best.

As for most plants, fertilizing is important.  Plant Tone is a good natural (and stinky!) amendment to add to beds in the fall.  Incorporate  it with a first feeding of Osmocote, which will release its nutrients until the soil gets cold.

Mid-winter apply  calcium nitrate to add extra nitrogen. After planting, always water your plants in and apply a good layer of mulch to keep roots warm through cold spells.While plants are blooming be sure to deadhead, (pinch off faded blooms) to keep more buds coming. If you leave old blooms on to die then set seed, this creates a messy looking plant that’s putting all its energy into that seed, not into future blooms.

 

This is especially important to remember come spring. Don’t be overly concerned if plants aren’t blooming in the middle of winter. This is normal – especially if we have cool, frosty  nights. Remember, the real reward comes in the spring!

Pansy Mariposa Peach Shades

Pansy Mariposa Peach Shades

Be mindful of winter temperatures – this is the time to watch the weather reports each morning or evening. Pansies are tough plants, but help them out by making sure soil in beds or planters is moist if there are freezing temperatures forecast.

Hopefully  these suggestions and tips will be helpful for any of you that get overwhelmed by the choices available…happy planting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Succulents Planted in Cedar and Hypertufa…

Made out of cedar...

Made out of cedar…

Even an ordinary day can bring pleasant surprises. Every now and then people stop by, peddling items they’ve created, hoping we’ll carry them. We try some,  hoping they’ll be a good fit for our location and things our customers will like.  Some work for us; some don’t.

The other day  a gentleman stopped in with his truck loaded with beautiful hypertufa pots of all sizes and cedar frames planted with hen and chick succulents, sempervivums. Right away  I knew these were right up our alley! If you’re on Pinterest (Oak Street Garden Shop is!), you no doubt have seen succulents of all sorts in many combinations. Whoever the very first person was who came up with this great idea deserves a prize!Cedar Frames with Hen and Chicks

These frames are made of long-lasting cedar,  are lightweight, and are actually designed to stand on a table like a picture. Even set completely flat they could be a beautiful centerpiece. The planting box also has drainage holes so plants won’t get waterlogged.

image

Little cedar boxes wrapped with burlap and planted with sempervivums also caught our eye. Really such a simple idea…and so pretty. We’d like to also get more of the cedar planters with metal fronting; they are fantastic looking!

Cedar and Metal Planter with Hen and Chicks

Rounding out the offerings were different sizes of planted hypertufa pots. The tiny pots with one sempervivum are just the right size for party favors or a “Thinking of you” gift. There were also a selection of larger pots, some wrapped with burlap with the addition of a medallion for added interest.

Fortunately, this gentleman used to work for one of our excellent wholesale plant suppliers in Alabama years ago and has a lot of experience growing quality plants. Taking this knowledge a step further and offering planted  containers was certainly a natural progression. After a move to Georgia and time spent working in garden center retailing, he and his brother are back in Alabama with this new, local business. We wish them the best of luck!

if you’re in the Birmingham area, stop in and  take a look at these pretty plantings from our newest local supplier!

Orchids…Early Fall Arrangements

A lady slipper is framed by angelvine...

A lady slipper is framed by angelvine…

Orchids, succulents, dried pods and foliage are the common theme in these four arrangements. With the heat of summer receding (Thankfully!) and fresh material arriving to work with, it’s a happy time in the greenhouse. So, between new shipments of pots, plants, ribbon and more, these were a few of the pieces we created. Let’s take a look.

Orchid, succulents and dried pods Someone who worked for us many years ago called from North Carolina to order an orchid for her mother’s birthday. She likes succulents too; so a double stemmed phalaenopsis and a lady slipper orchid were paired in a container and succulents nestled at the base. The addition of  angelvine and a touch of brown ribbon complete the design.

The next two small containers both started with an orchid, then succulents, ribbon, and, in the second, Jamie selected just the right white miniature pumpkin and burlap bow…the perfect gift for someone!Fall Orchid Arrangement

No two designs are ever alike for us, though sometimes a customer will see something they particularly like and will request another version of it.  Our least favorite thing is when someone brings in a picture with the request that we copy it, though we’ll always accommodate as best we can.Fall Orchid Arrangement - Customer's Dough Bowl

Happily, this large dough bowl of a longtime customer is one we see fairly regularly and one that we have complete creative license with. This go-round I filled it with orchids and under planted it for fall with Rex begonias, a pretty ivy, and added dark, shiny pods for their color and shape. A touch of chartreuse mood moss picks up the light green veining in the begonia leaf. Some tiny cattails are placed as accents, and my design is done.

Cotton stems, dried sunflower seed heads from the garden, and fern fiddleheads were the starting point for the last piece in a pretty brown and white bowl. . I added an air plant at the base and wound angel vine up through the cotton for even more interest. Some days are so much fun in the greenhouse!

Cotton, sunflower seed heads, fern fiddle heads and an airplantThis is just a sampling of the early fall things we’ve been creating! Since we’re always searching for new ideas and ways to make our arrangements more interesting and  unique, who knows what we’ll come up with next…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Container Gardening With Herbs – The Basics

for summer - lots of herbs and some flowers too...

for summer – lots of herbs and some flowers too…

Herbs are beautiful additions to any container garden, either on their own or combined with seasonal flowers. They add colorful leaves, texture, scent, and culinary usefulness to plantings and attract bees and other beneficial insects as well.

Planting Basics:

Use as large a pot as possible.

Use good quality potting soil.

Fertilize lightly.

Maintenance of Herbs in Containers:

Herbs often suffer from overfertilizing, overwatering, and overcrowding. Water when dry so that water runs out the bottom of the container. Remember pots will dry out quickly in the heat of summer and during windy conditions. Empty water that may be standing in saucers. Clip your herbs regularly. This will keep them from becoming leggy and overcrowded, especially if they’ve been used in combination plantings.  Harvest herbs in the morning and just prior to bloom. Near the end of the season, allow your basil to bloom; the bees love it! Finally,  never prune woody herbs like rosemary to bare wood.

Using Herbs in Combination Plantings:

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting....

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting….

Start with the herbs you’d like to most use, either for an ornamental or culinary addition. Knowing their growth habits is helpful in deciding their placement in your container.

For example, use chives for a grasslike effect; thyme, trailing rosemary, and oregano to spill over the edges; lavender or upright rosemary for height; and parsley and sage as fillers in containers.

Another idea is to use one herb in a pot and group many such pots together. A rosemary plant, once mature, will easily fill a large 14″ or bigger planter, as will lavender. Mid-size (10″- 14″) pots can be filled with parsley, chives, sage, French tarragon, or, more easily grown in the south, Texas tarragon. The larger the pot the better!

Annual Herbs Basil, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Grass (warm season); Cilantro, Dill (cool season); parsley (biennial).

Herbs and Succulents...

Herbs and Succulents…

Perennial Herbs Rosemary, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Sage, Chives, Mint, Lavender, French Tarragon, Texas Tarragon, Savory, Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Rue, Santolina, Fennel, Germander, Summer and Winter Savory.

Cool Season Herbs Cilantro, Dill, Salad Burnet, Chervil.

Plant Sizes

Small  – under 1 foot in diameter: Parsley, Dill, Chives (garlic & onion), Cilantro, Salad Burnet, Chervil.

Medium – 1-2 feet in diameter: Thyme, Tarragon, Basils, Mint.

Large 3 feet or more in diameter or over 4 feet high: Rosemary, Oregano, Lemon Verbena, Sage.

Sun/Moisture

Dry, sunny, Mediterranean conditions: Rosemary, Oregano, Marjoram, Sage, Lavender, Thyme, Tarragon, Germander, Santolina.

Cooler, afternoon-shaded locations: Mint, Cilantro, Dill, Chives, Parsley, Lemon Balm, Salad Burnet, Lemon Grass.

Common methods of propagation of perennial herbs: Divisions: Chives, Mint, Thyme, Oregano. Cuttings: Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Winter Savory, Lemon Verbena, Rue.

Rosemary looking a little rough after this past winter...

Rosemary looking a little rough after this past winter…

Pests & Diseases Of Herbs Careful cultivation of your herbs will help keep them healthy and less susceptible to pests and diseases. Provide adequate water when needed, plant with the proper spacing for the best air circulation, and place them in the right amount of sun. Chemicals, obviously should not be used on any herbs you plan to harvest. Insecticidal soap or a strong spray of water is generally enough to deter most pests.

Aphids – Soft-bodied insects found on new growth and easily controlled by a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

Whiteflies  Can be problematic, spraying the undersides of the leaves consistently with insecticidal soap is necessary to eliminate them. In large infestations they’ll fly out of the center of the plant in a white cloud when disturbed. An important point to keep in mind is that spraying with the wrong insecticide can make whitefly problems worse, since spraying with the wrong insecticide will kill important predatory insects and tiny parasitic wasps that help control whiteflies. These naturally occurring beneficial insects are the best way to control whiteflies, and whitefly outbreaks generally occur when this natural control is disrupted. The best course of action is to preserve beneficials by avoiding unnecessary insecticidal treatments.
Look HERE  for more information from Mississippi State University.

Leaf Hoppers – These insects hop from plant to plant so are known to spread diseases. Control with insecticidal soap spray.  Remove any garden debris each fall to reduce over-wintering sites. Thorough coverage of both upper and lower infested leaves is necessary for effective control.

Leaf Miner – Burrowing insects that live inside leaves and are identified by the white “trails” on the leaves. The best control is to cut the plant back and throw away (Do not compost.) those leaves. Common on parsley in particular.

Caterpillars – Always try to identify caterpillars before you get rid of them! Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars are commonly found on parsley, fennel, and dill. Bt and Sevin dust will control those you do want to eliminate, as will hand picking.

Powdery Mildew – Mildew is caused by too little air circulation. Thinning the plant and clipping back surrounding plants to improve air movement will help.

The following organic fungicide of baking soda and water can also be applied on your herbs:

1 Tbsp baking soda. ½ Tsp liquid soap   1 Tbsp light horticultural oil  in 1 gallon of water.

Always spray in the coolest portion of the day, avoid spraying when bees are active, and test this on a small portion of the plant first. The oil coats and smothers the fungi, and the soap helps the mix cling to the upper and lower portions of the leaf.

Latin names for herbs listed in this post:

Anise Hyssop: Agastache foeniculum;  Basil: Ocimum basilicum; Chives: Allium schoenoprasum; Garlic chives: Allium tuberosum; Cilantro: Coriandrum sativum; Dill: Anethum graveolens; Fennel: Foeniculum vulgare; Germander: Teucrium chamaedrys; Lavender: Lavandula sp.; Santolina: Santolina chamaecyparissus, Santolina virens; Lemon Balm:  Melissa officianalis; Lemon Grass: Cymbopogon citratus; Lemon Verbena: Aloysia triphylla ; Marjoram: Origanum majorana; Mint: Mentha sp.; Oregano (Greek) Origanum heracleoticum; Parsley: Petroselinum crispum; Rosemary: Rosmarinus officianalis; Rue: Ruta graveolens; Sage: Salvia officianalis; Salad Burnet: Sanguisorba minor; French tarragon: Artemesia dracunculus; Texas tarragon: Tagetes lucida; Thyme: Thymus sp.  Winter Savory: Satureja Montana; Summer Savory: Satureja hortensis

Crotons: Beautiful Foliage for Fall Color!

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It’s after Labor Day, and fall is right around the corner. After going through a long, hot summer, planters and beds look, shall we say, a tad tired. Well, of course, they are.

If you planted pots at the first hint of warm weather in April, no matter how diligent you were at deadheading and cutting back, many of your annuals have had enough of the endless heat and periodic dry spells by September.

Croton 'Sloppy Paint'

So, what to do?  Well, there are certainly the ubiquitous mums, and we’ll have plenty of them in all sizes and colors for you to use. But work the pretty fall hues of yellow, orange, or red marigolds into your autumn flower planters, add a few ornamental pepper plants, and now you’ll be getting somewhere! Finally, to really take it up a notch, add some colorful foliage.

Croton 'Freckles' But “What colorful foliage?”,  you’re thinking by now. So glad you asked! What we have in mind are the brightly patterned leaves of crotons. Up to now you might have thought of them as simply a pretty houseplant for bright spots in your home.

But, luckily, these tough plants can also work beautifully outside too in combination planters or on their own.Croton 'Shoestring' Croton 'Mammy'

Some we’ve gotten in recently highlight the different sizes and patterning of the leaves. Who knew the hybridizers could come up with such variations! Even the names  – ‘Sloppy Paint‘, ‘Freckles‘, and ‘Dreadlocks‘, just to name a few –  bring a smile.

Croton 'Tamara'The best thing about crotons is that their coloration becomes more pronounced with plenty of sun, which is what the marigolds and other plants listed above prefer. Finally, surround your planting with pumpkins and gourds (or tuck a few into the base of your planting)  to create a festive tableau for fall…perfect!

Since crotons also do double duty as houseplants, bring yours inside when nighttime temperatures dip into the 40’s. Carefully remove it from your outdoor planter, and repot into a container just a bit larger than the rootball. Be sure your pot has a drainage hole. Spray the undersides and tops of the leaves with a soap spray to rid it of any insects that might try to hitch a ride indoors, and place your croton in as bright a spot as possible. Don’t overwater during the winter months, it’s best to let the soil dry completely, then water well.  During these colder periods of the year it’s growth slows, so fertilize no more than once a month with a liquid, even formula (20-20-20) fertilizer.