Tuesday, February 27, 2018

There Is Ugly Too

As I was redecorating a room in my home a friend told me "you can't ignore the elephant in the room".  The "elephant" was drapery that I didn't want to remove because of the cost - but it was UGLY - and trying to decorate around it was not working. 

And so, while I  tell you about the pretty pots around town I have to admit there are a few just plain ugly ones that could never recover from the heat of last fall and then had to endure the long, cold temperatures that sapped their meager strength. 

But this has been a great learning experience.  This is where garden diaries are a great help.  Write down the winners AND the losers - and the reasons for the success and failures.  The "why" of both is important to the success of your garden.

Every time I plant something in this container it struggles.  Why?  Too much shade!  Just maybe, I tell myself, these plants will work this time.  Violas need sun.  Snaps need sun.  And the hour or two the container gets in the morning just isn't enough.  There is an autumn fern in the middle but even it isn't happy.  Time to address the elephant in the room.

Wish I could just take out everything in this container, leaving it bare until the spring changeover, but that can't happen.  Unfortunately, folks seem to think a container with no plants is a giant ashtray or trash container.  So until the April changeover this will have to do and just maybe the violas will rally to the challenge and fill out more.  They are Sorbet Lemon Chiffon, one of the tougher ones I use, so stay tuned to see if they do meet the challenge.

Lesson to be learned!  Know the elephant in your garden. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunshine Yellow Brightens The Day

Grooming the containers is now a real joy as the weather warms just enough to encourage new growth and blooms.  While all the violas have a cheery attitude, some of them really bring a smile, and Penny Clear Yellow really does that. 

These are also large blooms for a viola, adding to the impact.  Really like the subtle shading of the colors, which gives the flower more depth.

Here it is in one of the containers.  The snaps haven't started to bloom yet so the violas have to carry the whole show - but do that pretty darn well.

The parsley is filling out very well -- but you can hardly hold parsley back.  Without constant pruning it would take over they container. 

This will be the last season for the Rosemary BBQ.  It is a good winter/summer plant for its evergreen habit but after two full seasons it gets woody looking.  Put in a different one last past fall - Rosemary Tuscan Blue.  Much prettier, with softer leaves - but it was NOT happy with the low temps and burned out.  Waiting to see if it recovers enough to stay and will seriously consider using it again if the Farmer's Almanac predicts a better year.   Rosemary is a nice change from kales - the other winter staple used as center pieces.  And nothing eats it!!! 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Nature Triumphs

I should have been more confident about the plants I chose to put in the containers -- they not only survived the freezing temperatures -- they are happily blooming.  Well, most of them are anyway.   The violas that struggled with the long warm days had an equally hard time with the long cold days.  But take a look at this container --

The Redbor Kale loved those low temps, which brought out the bright fuchsia color in the center.  And that really connected with those shades in the Sorbet Orchid Rose Beacon violas.  Tucked in between is Dusty Miller Cirrus, giving a little relief to the eye with its silver tones and soft textures. 

Sorbet Orchid Rose Beacon's shadings add a lot of interest in the container - almost like have several different violas instead of just one.  It has been a good performer, jumping back after losing most of its blooms to the freeze.  A definite return companion. 

Lesson learned - don't be too quick to throw out the plants that might look to be goners.  A careful pruning back of just the seriously dead material allowed enough of the plant to make food for new growth. 

Be back tomorrow with some photos of Penny Orange violas -- their color is really catching the eye on these long dreary days. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Blog Site Revived

The Madison Container blog site has been revived!!  It is with renewed energy that the containers themselves will have a new look this spring along with the blog site.  But oh where is spring?!  There are still weeks ahead before we can safely think about putting out those tender pretties.  In the meantime, I'll at least get the blog moving along again.

The winter weather gods have not been kind to us this year.  Tried and true plants that have been used in the past struggle to even look alive let alone bloom.  I've always used violas instead of pansies because they can handle long periods of temperatures in the teens but they met their match this year.  Many hours  were spent grooming the containers, cutting out the dead material and hoping what was left would fill the empty spaces.  Only warm weather and a dose of fertilizer will tell us the outcome.

When the rain stops long enough to allow me to walk around and take pictures I can report on the "winners" of this long, cold battle.  I can safely say that the kales have revived and are standing upright again.  Poor snapdragons are attempting to hold themselves up but many continue to droop.  Dusty millers have also perked up and tough old autumn ferns only have a few browned fronds.  So, if nothing else, the containers will have green and a bit of silvery gray color in them.  But I am holding hope that those violas will prove themselves just as tough and start blooming.  Back soon with photos!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Winter Containers Are Planted

It has been a long time since I posted and with good reason.  I have been super busy designing, sourcing, and installing the little lovelies.  But the collection of plants are now gracing the many containers throughout Madison.  At this writing we still have no rain, which always makes plants so much happier.  But I can say that I'm pretty sure all the plants are just happy to be out of their tight little size 4" pots and into the wide open spaces of the 24" containers.

So what went into these containers this year.  As always with winter plants, the selection is limited to the hardy guys -- violas/pansies, parsley, kales, snaps, -- and a few more specialities that can handle surprise temperatures in the low teens.  One that I love to use is Red Giant Mustard.  It has such great color, texture and size, but it absolutely melts with the lows.  Not a pretty sight -- nor a pleasant smell when they wilt and rot.

I stayed with violas and in particular the Sorbet and Penny series.  Check out a couple here:

Sorbet Lavender Pink has soft colors that blend well with white snaps, blue kale or gray Dusty Miller

Sorbet Delft Blue is very tidy looking.  It married well with white snaps and Euphorbia 'Glacier Blue'.

I was bold this year and put in several camellias - "Yuletide".  In one gallon pots they are the perfect size -- not taking up too much space in either the roots or their foliage.  The ones selected were loaded with buds and are going into full bloom right now.  Would have liked them to strut their stuff during the Christmas Tour of Homes but, Oh Well.  The plan is to enjoy them for this year and move them on out to a garden setting when they outgrow the space.  Pictures on the next blog!  Gotta hurry though before the blooms fall off.

Also did more autumn ferns.  They are absolutely tried and true friends...loving either shade or sun.  The one gallon plants are ideal for the containers, only growing up to be "big boys" in two seasons and ready to be transferred into the garden.  A real win-win situation.

Be back soon with more pictures and updates on the containers.

Monday, October 3, 2016


The season is finally nearing an end.  It has been brutal and I, for one, will be glad to take out the summer plants and bring in fresh, fall friends.  But before the summer friends leave I do have to give kudos to one tough plant -- Gomphrena 'Fireworks'.  It has been abused by people wanted to pull of a flower or two; neglected by the watering schedule; and temperatures that even heat loving plants struggled with.  But look at it after five full months in the pot and just weeks away from going to compost heaven.

It is still going strong.  I will definitely put this in my Habitat Garden at home.  While I was grooming Fireworks a butterfly landed in front of my eyes and I watched it eat its dinner.  I can only imagine how wonderful this plant will look with adequate water.  If you are local to the area (Morgan County or Athens area) check with Thomas Orchards to get this one for next year.  They can get just about anything you desire.

I'm headed to Asheville, NC for a few days and hope to get by Biltmore Estates and see their gardens.  I'm sure they are filled with autumn goodies.  Maybe I'll get some "estate" ideas to plant here in Madison.  It will be fun looking for sure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New Blog Address

I had the distinct pleasure of being featured in the Lake Oconee Magazine and I mentioned my blog address.  Alas, my memory is definitely fading.  I used the older address.  So if you have come here looking for my site, please use "madisoncontainers.blogspot.com".  That has historical and current blog postings.  Sorry for the misdirection....see you at the new site.