Five Great Containers: Part Last!

So I’ll recap the story.

Ben’s wife and little son have been gone all summer and are coming back in two weeks. He wants to do something nice for them and asks for a balcony design. This is one of my favourite balcony pictures:

And because of its simplicity, that is the idea I gave him. Only MUCH smaller.

Containers 1, 2 and 3 all had small trees, a smaller evergreen shrub, a fluffy perennial, a taller perennial, and a grass. (Or a close approximation of those elements.)

Container 4 is very different.

Container #4

Container #4

This is a 16″ container, compared with the other 22″ containers. So obviously it doesn’t hold as much. Intentionally. I wanted some contrast with the sizes, and would have preferred no contrast with the colours, but we took what we could find. The glazing style of all 5 containers is the same, the colouring is different.

This container planting isn’t nearly as interesting as the others because everything is still immature. Next year it will look a lot different as everything gets closer to mature size.

It starts with a lavender.

My favourite, Lavendula angustifulia ‘Hidcote Blue’. This is one of the smallest of the English lavenders, sweet-smelling (never mind that I seem to be the only person in existence who doesn’t  like the fragrance of lavender), and rich purple-blue coloured flowers. Here is an excellent video on pruning lavender. Unless you actively keep your lavender in check, it will get woody and overgrown and UGLY. You don’t want this, I’m sure.

lavender1

Thanks to beingfiftysomething for her picture of her front  lavender “hedge”. Which she has since completely changed!

Next, and almost invisible because it’s so young, is Verbascum ‘Blue Pixie’. This will give a nice spray of height above the lavender, coordinating nicely with the colour. But as the name implies, not grow as high as most Verbascum.

ver_pixie_blue

Thanks to Future Plants for the picture of Verbascum ‘pixie Blue’

Finally this  garden is rounded off with the some of the same plants as other containers: the grass–Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘LIttle Bunny’, the spurge–Euphorbia ‘Tiny Tim, and a few strands of the sedum–Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’. Repeating some plants in your collection of containers gives a sense of unity, and is a principle you can apply to your in-ground gardens as well.

Container 5–the Succulent ContainerDSCN2024

One important thing to remember about succulent containers: they need to be treated a little different than other perennial containers. Most succulents grow in closer-to-desert conditions, hence the “succulent” leaves which store water. They don’t want a lot of watering, they don’t want their roots to stay too wet, and they don’t want a  lot of wet soil underneath their roots or under their leaves. A shallow container is commonly used, but again, we went with what we could find, so choose the smaller of the coordinating pots. A layer of pebbles would be a good thing to use to mulch the soil and keep the plant leaves from sitting directly on the wet soil.

My favourite plant here is the ruffled edge Lewisia cotyledon in front. This puts on the sweetest show in late spring, with flowers that range from light orange through various pink shades to almost purple or red.

Thanks to Wild Ginger Farms for the picture of Lewisia cotyledon 'Sunset strains'

Thanks to Wild Ginger Farms for the picture of Lewisia cotyledon ‘Sunset strains’.

Going around clockwise, next is Sempervivum tectorum ‘Royal Ruby’. I stole a few from the plant to add into other containers, as well as planting a few in smaller pots for a houseplant. Then another no-name Sempervivum hybrid, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’, and Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina, and last-but-not-least, Euphorbia myrsinites trailing over the edge.

So that’s the end of my series on “Five Great Containers”. Hope you liked it–if so, let me know and maybe I could do another series on some other topic of your choice.

As always, leave a comment, ask a question, incite a discussion. Nicely.

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