June 7th, 2007
There is no Excuse Not to Have a Garden
Designing a container garden or grouping of containers requires exactly the same process as designing an in-ground garden. You are designing a garden space. With the containers and the plants that you select, a small garden will come to life. For those of us with only patio or balcony space for plants, it IS our garden!
First, take time to imagine the dream patio garden that you desire. Many questions will flood your mind as you begin to envision your future garden. Or, for those less sure of just what to do, consider what your answers are to these questions. Don’t become overwhelmed. We can help you in every step of the process.
What are your desires or needs for this garden space? How should it function? As an entertainment center, serene getaway, or wildlife habitat? Do you want an informal or formal style? Believe it or not, knowing the theme of your patio garden is the number one step in this entire process.
Of course, the size of your space is a defining element. Your patio size helps you define the size and number of containers to consider and of course, the ultimate plant sizes, too. For example, on a small 5 by 5 foot patio, you might not want to have a large-leafed philodendron and a banana tree.
Take into consideration the microclimate of your patio. Is it sun or shade, or both? Is it protected from or exposed to winds? Knowledge of your microclimate in this patio area will be important for you during your plant selection.
What plants are your favoritesâ€”tropical, woodland, native plants or cottage style? Do you prefer foliage plants or flowering plants? Are you considering planting trees or shrubs, or creating splashes of color using annuals and perennials? Perhaps you are an eclectic gardener and simply want all of the above.
Selection of the containers is a big part of the process. There are so many different sizes, shapes, materials and colors of containers. Do you want pottery, cement, plastic, wood or metal? Mixing these four main elements can make for a very eye-catching collection of containers.
Perhaps you have decided to select the containers first before considering what plants you plan to have for this patio paradise. In doing so, your containers’ personalities will lead the way during your plant selection. You won’t want to put a collection of pansies and snapdragons into a container that could easily hold a 10- foot tall tree. And of course, that tree, even if you found it as a seedling in a small one-gallon pot, should not be planted into a tiny pot.
Alternatively, you may be the type that marches right into the plant section of our garden center and picks out plants based upon the theme that you want to create. Your next stop will then be the container area. The plants selected will define the size of the containers that you choose, and should really help you with shape and color selection, too. After all, you don’t want to take home a silver blue Eucalyptus pulverulenta (Silver Mountain Gum) or a burgundy Cordyline and plant them into an orange pot. Well, we hope not anyway!
We are so excited about your new venture into container gardening! Select a high quality potting mix , and add in a controlled release fertilizer. Also, remember that moisture retention is frequently a problem with containers, so mix in a soil polymer that will hold on to the moisture between waterings.
Your patio retreat will become a reality as these ideas are transposed into concrete concepts. Whatever your choice of theme, plants and materials, your patio garden retreat should bear the mark of your personality.