Tag Archives: container gardening for shade

Cork Bark Planters for Shady Summer Spots

A number of years ago a customer, seeing some of our cork bark plantings, decided she’d like to have one. The space she envisioned it living was on a hearth of a covered terrace, a beautiful outdoor seating and dining area.

That year, and each summer since, a large cork piece has become home to various houseplants that like the shade and summer humidity this spot offers. An experienced gardener, she appreciates and takes exceptional care of this design and others. It’s such a pleasure creating something that only gets better as the summer goes on!image

With this season’s planting, the original cork piece finally had to be replaced, and it’s now one large piece with a second smaller one added to create planting pockets. Wired netting and sheet moss contains the potting soil and plants.

It’s gratifying to see the ‘Bantel’s Sensation’ Sanseveria and fantail willow in context, creating the “flame” look I was hoping for on the hearth.  I hope you can see it too.

Rounding out the planting are a philodendron, trailing pothos and pilea, and a few air plants on the outer portion of the cork, all easily grown and not needing extra care if the family is away for an extended period of time.

Cork Bark Planting For Shade

The second piece was a project on a slow, hot, summer’s day.  Designed for a shady nook, it’s three pieces of cork  filled with a rex begonia, fittonia, and peacock selaginella.

This pretty planting will also get larger and fuller as the season goes on and the inevitable heat of summer builds. Rex begonias are under-utilized, very beautiful, colorful additions to shade planters and well worth growing.

By Kris Blevons

We just received a new shipment of cork bark pieces. Stop in and take a look if you’d like us to create a planting for you, or if you’d like to make your own!

Container Gardens…Using Foliage For Color And Contrast

Mondays are the best days to put a few container combinations together before the weekly orders begin to come in for custom plantings, arrangements for parties, and the general hectic pace of spring continues.

A big hanging basket...

A big hanging basket…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The goal is to give inspiration to all of you who might be overwhelmed with the choices available or want something to take home and plop by your front door, on your porch,  or in the garden.

Contrasting leaves of coleus, grassy Carex and ajuga make a vibrant combination...

Contrasting leaves of coleus, grassy Carex and ajuga make a vibrant combination…

'Miss Muffet' caladium and 'Bounce' impatiens under planted with scotch moss...

‘Miss Muffet’ caladium and ‘Bounce’ impatiens under planted with scotch moss…

This past  weekend it was fun to talk with some ladies, two sisters and their mother, visiting from Columbus, Georgia. While the sisters browsed through the greenhouse, their mother was busily amassing quite a collection of plants to carry back with them, an alarming amount in the sisters eyes.

A black elephant ear, 'Bounce' impatiens, spiky juncus and variegated creeping fig will all appreciate steady moisture through the summer...

A black elephant ear, ‘Bounce’ impatiens, spiky juncus and variegated creeping fig will all appreciate steady moisture through the summer…

 

Contrasting leaves of Heuchera, maidenhair Fern, Babywing begonia and Fuschia 'Gartenmeister'...

Contrasting leaves of Heuchera, maidenhair Fern, Babywing begonia and Fuschia ‘Gartenmeister’…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How are you planning to fit all this in the car.”, one of the daughters asked. “Oh, it will be fine.”, Mom said airily. “We’ll just shift some of the luggage around.”           It was such fun talking with her, answering questions about the plants she saw on her own or in various container combinations throughout the nursery and greenhouse.

This large hanging basket uses caladiums, angelvine, a Carex and a mother Fern in the very center...

This large hanging basket uses caladiums, angelvine, a Carex and a mother Fern in the very center…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure exactly how they eventually managed to get all the plants in their car for the trip home, but I do know Mom would have packed the plants and shipped the luggage if it came down to it!

All foliage...

All foliage…

Some of the plantings our Georgia visitors saw are shown in this post and include foliage plants for filtered sun to shade, including coleus, the largest of which are the Kong series, big bold beauties for shade.

Don’t forget caladiums, always a stalwart…and many now also tolerate full sun. Hypoestes, or polka dot plant, comes in pink, white, or red, and Rex begonias have beautiful patterns and colors too.

The Rex begonia's leaves stand out in this planting...

The Rex begonia’s leaves stand out in this planting…

 

The trailing plant here is an episcia...

The trailing plant here is an episcia…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A trailing golden creeping Jenny or variegated creeping fig adds either gold or green and white coloring. Episcias are another beautiful choice when they’re available.

Use bloomers like the new Bounce series of impatiens, SunPatiens, Torenia (both trailing and upright), Babywing or Dragonwing begonias, and airy white euphorbia for even more color.

A large leaf coleus and a small leaf coleus share space with a SunPatiens and angel vine in a cast stone 'barn board' planter...

A large leaf coleus and a small leaf coleus share space with a SunPatiens and angel vine in a cast stone ‘barn board’ planter…

Using interesting foliage with flowers in plantings that don’t get the hot summer sun (and those that do) is always the goal for an interesting and vibrant composition.  And, as plant choices change through the season,  you’ll see different planting combinations on any given week as new plants become available and others are sold out. This changing inventory may call for creative substitutions for some plants, but that also makes it fun!

Posted by Kris Blevons 

Summer Shade Planters…Foliage and Flowers for Lasting Impact

As the hectic pace of spring gives way to summer and the necessary routine jobs around the nursery of  grooming plants, watering, and cleaning, it’s a real treat for us to be able to “play” and indulge our plantaholic ways. Truthfully, we do this as often as possible. First, because it’s just plain fun to try different combinations,  and, if a planter stays long enough to grow out, you can see the end result and we can explain how we maintained it. It’s a win-win situation for everyone! So, here is a gallery of planting combinations for shade that we’ve put together recently. When combining plants it’s necessary to understand light and water requirements for compatibility. If you know this, the next goal is to pair plants with contrasting leaf shapes, color, and texture. Echoing or contrasting flower colors and shapes will also factor into the design.

For Filtered Sun or Shade...

For Filtered Sun or Shade…

The first planter for filtered  or morning sun utilizes the big white  leaves of ‘Garden White’ caladiums, the airy white blooms and leaves of a euphorbia, a ‘Babywing’ Pink begonia, the grassy foliage of Carex ‘Evergold’, and the dark shiny foliage of hemigraphis, or waffle plant. There’s also a touch of a selaginella for a lighter green, low-growing skirt at the edge of the planting. Maintaining this will involve cutting any seed pods from the caladiums, removing any unsightly leaves and watering regularly. Urn - Juncus, Swedish Ivy, Alternanthera 'Ruby' Potato Vine 'Caroline Green'

 

The next is a simple planting using only foliage for contrasting color and leaves. Grassy juncus, variegated Swedish ivy, a tough alternanthera with reddish purple foliage, and a chartreuse potato vine provide as much color as flowers…and don’t need any deadheading! This combination only needs occasional clipping if necessary and regular watering.

Shade Planter For Summer

Caladiums and coleus should be go-to plants for continuous color and big, bold foliage. The dark leaved coleus in the very center of this planting will need to be cut back if it has overgrown its companions, and the caladiums will need seed pods removed to ensure the best leaf production. This planter is mostly caladiums and coleus, with the dainty white blooms of a euphorbia acting as a filler plant.  Pothos, a common houseplant, will trail over the edge and add even more color to this shady composition. In fact, many houseplants work well in these types of shady container gardens.

 

imageSometimes it’s fun to try a plant that’s more unusual as the centerpiece of a design. In this glazed pot the dark leaf of  the Alocasia is a beautiful contrast to the coleus, grasslike juncus, maidenhair fern, trailing torenia, and creeping jenny.

Shade Planter for Summer Finally, here’s a simple planting for shade using a begonia and the contrasting leaf and brightness of carex ‘Evergold’,  which will spill over the edge of the container. Simple, yet effective. The begonia will continue to bloom with a couple of cutbacks if it gets “leggy.”

Need help with container plantings in sunnier spots?  The next post will highlight some of the plantings for sun that we’ve designed recently. 

Shade Containers…No Impatiens? No Problem!

Because of the threat of downy mildew on impatiens, this year has seen all of us having to rethink what to plant in our shady beds and planters. In an earlier post  I explained what downy mildew is and offered some alternatives. After planting these pots (located in a very shady spot in front of Chez Fonfon downtown), I thought they offered a good example of a planting that utilizes different foliage and blooming options.

imageOwners Frank and Pardis Stitt prefer white and green for the front of this  French cafe, located next to their acclaimed restaurant Highlands in downtown Birmingham. These are fairly large, tan colored  cast stone planters  with nice clean lines.  A mix of contrasting green and variegated foliage with a touch of white add light to this shady spot,  and the stone wall adds a pleasing backdrop to the planting.

The photos shown here were taken right after planting, so you can imagine how much they will grow up, out and over the planters. By the end of the season they should be quite lush…and the folks at Chez Fonfon do a great job maintaining them.

The cast iron plant, aspidistra, stays in these planters year-round and is the backbone of this planting. Occasionally in the spring  it needs to be pulled out and thinned; at the same time any damaged leaves from winter are cut off. Once that is done, the planters are topped off with fresh potting soil, Osmocote is mixed in,  and they’re ready to plant.image

I started with the ‘Aaron’ caladiums first. (These will work in full sun as well!) The white center on the leaf really brightens this planting and is the direct opposite of the Algerian ivy leaf with its green center and white outline…foliage is so fun to work with! The tiny needlepoint like ivy is a big contrast – a much smaller and darker green leaf than the first two. Difficult to see, but, right up against the aspidistra, I added a blue-green grass-like juncus – it picks up the gray-green color in the Algerian ivy.

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Next, the blooms – white New Guinea impatiens (These and the Sunpatiens are NOT affected by the downy mildew disease.) and some Euphorbia ‘Silver Fog’ to brighten this spot even more. The euphorbia is difficult to see in these photos, but it is a very nice filler for sunny spots too – I’m hoping it will get just enough light to bloom well and add its airy texture to this composition.

 

Last, a bit of the tiny, low growing baby tears – a lighter green to brighten the very lowest level of the planting, next to the dark green ivy. Eventually this will get engulfed by the rest, but until then it will be another lighter green in the mix…

So…no impatiens? No problem!  Want to see another example? Take a look at this massive moss hanging basket – it’s planted all for shade too!