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Contained Joy

As this less-than-stellar horticultural summer has progressed, I have been less than displeased. Mother Nature has been hateful and spiteful, nearly drowning us then shutting off the rain completely giving us the driest August on record. And through it all she has kept the heat cranked up on high. Undoubtedly she is past the hot flashes. Perhaps the HRT is working. But she pretty much took the joy out of gardening for much of the summer. Well, Old Girl, you took my joy. I want it back.

One of the places a person could still find the joy is in container gardening. Even containers can suffer, but at least you can watch a few of them and give them extra care. The rest of the garden can pretty much go to hell as you devote the wee bit of energy the weather has not totally sapped from you to those containers… Containers you thoughtfully place near the house so watering and other chores are easily accomplished. This would have been a great year to have used those water-holding crystals. Alas, I did not. Wait, they probably would have caused everything to rot during the rainy season anyway. And it’s a little hard to incorporate them when it turns dry two months after you planted your pots.
Our containers at the IMA look very good this year despite the weather we have experienced. I did a quick tour of them this morning and took some pictures so what you see is in real-time.

Patty tried one of  the new trailing vincas (Catharanthus roseus ‘Cora Cascade Magenta’) for her pots between the Formal Garden and Lilly House.

I think this group has a lot of potential. I’m always looking for good flowering trailing plants.
In her pots at the front of the Formal Garden texture reigns supreme over color.

Katie created a hot tropical scheme with flowers in oranges, yellows, reds combined with burgundy foliage.

I love these colors of course.

Jim showed the elegance you can have when using a single species in a container. Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is one of the best for this. In front of Lilly House is ‘King Tut’, a wonderful slightly smaller grower.

In the planters behind the house are my favorite of all, just plain old papyrus. Stunning, elegant, beautiful, and yet, tough as nails – if only people were so grand.

Even from below they are gorgeous.

In front of the Deer-Zink Pavilion I placed a single giant variegated Agave americana. They thrive on heat and require very little water so it was great for this summer.

As an added bonus for using a single species – all the plants require the same care.

You can do the same by using multiple species having the same requirements like I did at Garden Terrace with several different succulents.


Around the Sutphin Mall I selected a purple and silver palette this year.


I really like this Tibouchina grandiflora (princess flower, glory bush) with the hot pepper ‘Purple Flash’.

The hot peppers are fabulous plants for sunny situations whether in containers or in the ground.
It’s delightfully cool today, maybe it could rain too? Or am I just wishin’ and hopin’?

Filed under: Horticulture

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