Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Grading the pots

Posted by: Mary Jane Smetanka under Annuals Updated: August 21, 2012 - 1:06 PM

I planted my pots late this year. I was disappointed when I went to the garden center and couldn’t find a little trailing purple tradescantia (sometimes called wandering Jew) that I love, and had to settle for a giant version called “Purple Heart.”
Ick. I put it in the pots with the sun coleus, and let them slug it out. Here’s the result:


I can’t say I like it all that much, though it has grown enthusiastically and seems more than willing to slug it out with the big coleuses that try to take over the pots. Last weekend a visitor gushed over the plant, saying she absolutely loved it. But I’m not sure I’ll plant it again.
My pots are the result of planning that consists of a terse shopping list: “6 tall, 12 coleus, 8 hanging.” Impulse and chance control things after that, and then I have to puzzle out a scheme for each pot.
By the front door, the pale yellow impatiens that looked so pretty in May are nearly invisible from the street, their pallid colors fading in front of the maroon palm-like cordylines behind them. The green potato vines in those pots got pulled out by squirrels.
Those pots get a big fat “D.”
It’s better in back. The sun coleus always do well on the partially shaded deck, and I love the way the potato vines and trailing plants wander and merge until you can’t tell which pot is which.
My favorite pot this year might be this simple combination by the garage door. It was almost July when I stuck the extra impatiens and a stray licorice plant in the pot with an odd yellow-and-green grass. An irate chipmunk promptly tossed every single plant out of the pot, but I rescued them before they wilted in the heat.
It’s the plainest pot I have. But every time I see that pink-and-gray combination, I smile. It works for me.

So I’ll give the backyard pots a solid “B+,” and all my pots together a “B.”
I am determined to try something new next year. Minneapolis has some crazy color combinations in giant urns along the light rail line downtown, with oranges, violets, lime greens and maroons that really light up the street. On a walk in my neighborhood, I saw a planting of tropical bromeliads and philodendrons nestled up against the corner of a house in a bed of gray rocks. It was odd — striking.
And here’s something I saw during a visit to Bachman’s. Interesting, eh?

What would you do differently? Do you see any trends in pots that you’d like to use next year?
 

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