I am loving this combination of the chartreuse ‘Designer Genes’ hosta, flanked by the delicate Claytonia virginica ‘Spring Beauty’ blooms.
See also: Sierra Spring Beauty (Claytonia nevadensis).Leave a comment
I wrote about the cosmos recently when the flowers were just starting to open. Well, they’re coming up full force now and I’m loving them even more. The soft, double blooms have begun to poke through a false roselle (Hibiscus acetosella) plant that is growing alongside — it has proven to be an unexpected combination that I would repeat again.
Eventually, if all goes well, the false roselle will bear its own soft pink blooms. It’s a long season tropical — I started the seeds underneath lights back in January with the hopes that the plant would have enough time to make flowers before the killing frost comes. I am loving this plant in it’s own right, even without flowers. I first encountered it in St. Lucia where my friend David was growing a stand of them. Here it is a struggle to get 7-foot-tall plants — mine are not there yet and may never make it, but even still, it’s been beautiful at every stage. Both the flowers (if they ever come) and the young leaves are edible. They taste a lot like their namesake, sorrel (Rumex acetosa), and have that slightly acidic bite.
Sempervivums or Hens and Chicks as they are commonly called, are an incredibly hardy, and drought tolerant succulent that can take a fair amount of abuse, yet when I was starting out on my roof, they were the last plant I wanted to grow. I’d come to associate them with the few that had been slapped into the tiny front garden of my childhood home. And while I had fond memories of playing with my dolls on the pretend Martian landscape they created, my overall impression as an adult was that they lacked a certain luster.
I don’t recall how it happened, perhaps nostalgia won out, but I eventually came around to growing a few. That summer they bloomed, creating exotic, alien-like flower stalks. I was hooked and decided I would never be without them again.Leave a comment
Strawberry pots have a bad reputation in the gardening world. They have poor water distribution and tend to dry out quickly. Sometimes they’re ugly. Or the pockets are too small. Or the pockets don’t have a lip, making holding soil in at planting time nearly impossible. The good ones are expensive to buy, if you can find one. I once spent an inordinate amount of money taxiing around the city in search of the right pot for a workshop. Three inferior pots and more money than I care to think about later and I was eventually forced to call a friend and beg to borrow hers. Is it borrowing if you never give it back? And four years have passed?
Despite their faults, I’ll be the first to stand up for strawberry pots. When they’re good, they’re really good. A good strawberry pot is an excellent way to grow food in vertical space. It’s especially useful when all you’ve got in the way of good light is a tiny patch on the balcony. Growing vertically allows you to get as much as you can out of that tiny patch. And they look pretty darn nice too. I like to fill mine with drapey plants that cascade over the sides. The trick to using them is in choosing the right kind of pot, and the right plants for that pot.
So what features qualify a strawberry pot as good?
What plants work best in strawberry pots?
Well, strawberries for one. I grow a strawberry-filled strawberry pot every year. The roots are small and fit easily into just about any sized pot. If you’re interested in trying something new, look for varieties with colourful flowers (pink is common) or variegated leaves.
Herbs are another good option. Stick to drought tolerant herbs such as thyme, oregano, or marjoram if you’re growing in a smaller pot. Big pots can support a wide assortment of herbs. I grow a different mix every year, starting with cool season plants early in the spring and then switching them out for tougher, heat-loving plants that can take a bit of neglect once the summer kicks in. One of my favourite pots stick to one type of herb with a different variety in each pocket. I grew a mint mix last year that was stunning once the plants started to trail and produce flowers. It was nice to have so many different varieties of mint on hand to pinch off for tea.
Lettuce and other assorted greens will grow well if you start your pot early in the spring while the temperatures are cool. Create visual interest by growing varieties with different shapes, colours, and textures in each pocket. The pot show at the top of this page is filled with strawberries with a dark, frilly ‘Red Oak Leaf’ lettuce in the top.
I’ve included a printable list that will help you get started in choosing the right plant for your conditions as well as herbal mixes that will grow well together.
The Famous Watering Trick, Modified
As mentioned above, strawberry pots are known for having water distribution problems. One trick many gardeners have turned to is to insert a piece of PVC pipe with tiny holes drilled throughout, down into the centre of the pot at planting time. When you pour water into the pipe, the water flows down and trickles through the holes, allowing water to reach all nooks and crannies in the pot.
It’s a good idea, but it does not come without problems:
To avoid these problems, I’ve been utilizing my own modified version that has served me well for several years:
I came upon this colour palette yesterday and had an instantaneous response to it. The pink flowers are magnolia and the red and chartreuse bush on the right is ‘Goldflame’ spirea (Spiraea x bumalda). Of course it could just be the designer in me that is responding to the grid formation but I also think it is the black brick background serving as a contrasty backdrop… the colours just pop out against it. In conclusion: This reaffirms what I already know about chartreuse and deep red against black.
Note to self: Get more black containers.Leave a comment