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Saturday, September 13, 2014
Posted By: Lyle Courtice A.H. in Container Gardening

With yards becoming increasingly smaller and people's lives so hectic and busy it is no wonder we enjoy the "personal" perennial garden so much. Small, condensed and easy to manage, containers offer an alternative for those with little time to tend a large perennial border and for those without space it is a little piece of Eden on their 30th floor balcony.

Perennial Pot 1

Perennials which include: bulbs, cacti and succulents, ferns, grasses and some herbs offer a plethora of colour, texture and versatility. This allows you to easily create a container with interest throughout the year and since most perennials grow quickly it will not take long to have a fantastic looking creation.

With this massive palette to work with there will always be a fit for your situation. I really do not like to tell people what to use or how to arrange a container as each person's taste will be different and sometimes the plants I may recommend are not at hand. Plus it is so much fun to just create, have fun and quite often make mistakes- is that not how we learn?

Many times I have thrown a cute little perennial into a mixed container only to find out several weeks later that it really liked the conditions, has turned into a thug and taken over the pot, c'est la vie - I will know for next time...

If this happens to you or if a plant just doesn't look right, do not be afraid to pull it out and try something different.

Perennial Pot 2

In general you should use plants that have multiple levels of interest for some perennials once finished flowering can look rather ratty and will diminish the overall appearance of your container. Foliage, which will give textural contrast over a longer period should be your first priority then think of flowers, fruit and seed pods as they are quite often fleeting.

Containers

Use whatever takes your fancy from an old wash tub, Italian terra cotta, French Vase d'Anduze to a simple black nursery pot. Make sure it can weather our winters without breaking apart and ensure it has ample drainage (if not get out your drill!). I always say go big or go home, get the largest container you can afford and handle, the more room you can give your plants the better they will perform and last.

Soil:

Use a good quality potting mix, if unable to find- mix your own using some peat, perlite and fine bark (15/10/75% ratio) add in a good quality slow release fertilizer and you should be good for the season. Your mix should be friable and well draining yet be able to hold some moisture. Peat based mixes should be avoided as they hold too much moisture, shrink and are hard to re-wet once dried and break down quicker over time making them unsuitable for long term containers.

Which Perennials to Plant? There are hundreds if not thousands of perennials that you can plant in the Pacific Northwest. Here are just a few options for you to ponder:

For Sunny Locations

Aralia cordata 'Sun King', Arabis, Campanula, Carex, Coreopsis, Crocosmia, Dianthus, Echinacea, Erysimum, Eucomis, Festuca, Geum, Lavandula, Leucosceptrum, Kniphofia, Knautia, Eryngium, Euphorbia, Gaillardia, Geranium, Pennisetum, Phygelius, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Schizostylis, Stipa, Thymus, Uncinia.

For Shady Locations

Actaea, Ajuga, Aquilegia, Arisaema, Arum, Asarum, Astilbe, Beesia, Bergenia, Brunnera, Carex, Cyclamen, Dicentra, Disporum, Epimedium, Ferns, Fragaria, Fuchsia, Hakonechloa, Hedera, Helleborus, Heuchera, Heucherella, Hosta, Lysimachia, Mukdenia, Ophiopogon, Oxalis, Podophyllum, Polygonatum, Primula, Pteridophyllum, Roscoea, Thalictrum, Tiarella, Viola, Zingiber.

Perennial Pot 3

For Hot & Dry Locations

Cacti, Delosperma, Eryngium, Rosmarinus, Sedum, Sempervivium, Succulents.

For Evergreen Interest

Ajuga, Arum, Beesia, Bergenia, Carex, Cyclamen, Dianthus, Epimedium, Euphorbia, Ferns, Festuca, Geum, Helleborus, Heuchera, Heucherella, Lavandula, Ophiopogon.

These listings are by no means extensive or definitive, remember to experiment, use your own creativity and have fun.

If you have any questions about potting up perennials in planters, drop by or give us a call. We also have a talented design team that can do the dirty work for you. However, it helps a lot if you can give us your colour preferences, an idea of the space the container will be in and a rough idea of budget for the project.

Photographs courtesy of Harkaway Botanicals.


Thursday, October 24, 2013
Posted By: Rebecca van der Zalm in Container Gardening

When the fog hides the sky and the winter chills set in, odds are that your planters are starting to look a ‘wee bit’ tired. While most of us decide to casually look the other way, there is really no good reason for avoiding giving them a seasonal refresh.

There are lots of different plants you can use for fall and winter planters. Many of them are either shrubby or perennial, meaning that the investment won’t be wasted. When spring comes, you can yank the plants out and use them in different spots. Or, choose to keep them in containers and add some extra spring interest.

Winter Blooming Plants

Colour in winter planters usually comes from foliage, bark and berries as opposed to flowers. This is not to say there aren’t winter bloomers. Hellebores, Pansies, Witchhazels, SweetBox and Camellias are all lovely winter flowering plants. It’s just that flower colour in winter is fleeting. It’s best to use flowers as the accent while relying on foliage, texture and colourful berries to do the heavy lifting through the cool season.

Before we move on, it’s important to change our perception about winter gardening. It’s not about longevity. It’s about creating a piece of living art that you can enjoy until spring. It’s ok to put the wrong plant in the wrong place. If it stretches for light – we can prune it in spring. If it dies, it dies … it’s ok. Get over it. In winter, there are no rules, you can do anything you want in the container – and have fun doing it.

Most planters follow the formula of thriller, fillers and spillers. That is, there is one dominant center piece in the container that just screams “look at me – I am the most important!”.

Surrounding it are its minions, the fillers. Tidy nice little accent plants that all look up to the thriller. Finally, the spillers cascade over the sides of the pot - softening its appearance.

4 Evergreen thrillers for containers

In the winter, thrillers tend to be evergreens or deciduous shrubs with winter interest. Yews, Alberta Spruces, Topiary Boxwoods as well as Hollies, Camellias and Heavenly Bamboos are all great choices as evergreens.

3 Deciduous Thrillers for containers

Interesting leafless thrillers include Harry Lauders Walking Sticks, Coral Bark Japanese Maples, and Witchhazels.

You can also use a few old favourites like Ornamental cabbages and Kale. The thriller does not have to be living. In Whistler, you often see pieces of birch and deciduous holly stems jammed into containers in an upright fashion. Or you could use a lantern or gazing ball. Anything that grabs the attention of the passer-by is fair game.

Have fun with the fillers. There are lots of interesting choices including:

3 cool season grasses for containers

Cool season ornamental grasses like Carex ‘Evergold’, Black Mondo Grass and Acorus ‘Ogon’ are fantastic fillers.

Buds of skimmia japonica

Smaller evergreens like the fragrant winter blooming Sarcococca, the colourful Skimmia or Goshiki Osmanthus or False Holly are great options too.

3 Great conifers for containers

Conifers too are comfortable in pots. Two of my personal favourites are Carsten’s Winter Gold or Mugo SlowMound Pine. A nice up and comer is ‘GoldStrike’ Cedar. Green throughout the season, it turns a brilliant golden yellow in winter and spring.

Wintergreen - Gaultheria procumbens

 

Don’t forget about berries. They provide a lot of nice colour in winter. Four great choices include: Gaultheria procumbens or ‘Wintergreen’, Lingonberry, Vaccinium vitis-ideae, Pernettya and Pyracantha.

cyclamen flowers

If you absolutely must have flowers in winter, then Hellebores, cyclamens and pansies are your solution.

For bonus points, fill your containers with lots of little bulbs like snowdrops, crocus or grape hyacinths before putting in the rest of the plants. In spring ,these bulbs will start to flower and fill your container with colour until it’s time to visit us again :) 

 

Finally, we come to the spillers. In the winter, there are a few options. Euonymous, or Winter Creeper, Evergreen Ivy or a trailing grass are probably your best options.

It’s possible that container designer experts may freak out if you don’t follow the rules by having your thriller, the fillers and the spillers, but that’s ok.

I believe that winter planters can be simple too. Put one gorgeous plant in one pot. If you want more colour or combinations, then just plant up more containers. I love front door arrangements made up of large, medium and small sized pots. Yes, designing in threes always works. Three on either side of the front door is even better! With that said, simplicity is the key. Allow each plant can stand on its own rather than being crammed in with others. They’ll also be healthier next season too!

bud blooming heathers

 

A word about colour. I love mono-colour planters in the winter. Try making up a planter that is dominant in one colour, say white, or perhaps pink, or even different shades of green. The results can be striking.

When it comes to winter care, remember that plants in containers need water in winter too. They just need less. There is no substitute for getting your hand into the dirt. If it’s dry and crumbly, the plants need water. If it’s wet and gooey, they are fine – but make sure the water is actually draining out of the pot. Too much water is just as deadly as too little.

If all of this sounds daunting, remember that Art’s Nursery can help you design winter planters and even plant them up for you. Just give us a sense of your style, the sizes required and your budget. We’ll work up something beautiful for your fall and winter entertaining.

If you have any questions about fall and winter containers, please feel free to give us a call at 604.882.1201 or visit us in person at Art’s Nursery.


Sunday, September 8, 2013
Posted By: Lyle Courtice A.H. in Container Gardening

Well I thought I would touch on something other than plants but no less important to the garden- pots!

Containers for some people are the garden and for others they help to enhance and enrich the atmosphere of their green space or outdoor room.

Planters can be works of art and last literally decades so when selecting go for something that suits the location. Whimsy and bold can be fun, nice for a time but tend to be fad driven and fall out of favor sooner than later; however to each their own, as long as you like it that is all that really matters.

Colour is an important factor when selecting a container, earth tones and natural colours will blend with their surroundings and not be too jarring. Strong, bold colours add punch and contrast but be careful they are not too distracting or overwhelming.

whimsical and bold pottery

Colour is an important factor when selecting a container, earth tones and natural colours will blend with their surroundings and not be too jarring. Strong, bold colours add punch and contrast but be careful they are not too distracting or overwhelming.

You get what you pay for. My motto is "Quality is never too expensive". Skimping on size is never good, always go for the largest you can afford as the plants do grow and may quickly fill in the current pot.

quality that lasts for ever

Urns and containers of various shapes and sizes make for unique and interesting focal points in the garden. Sometimes we need something static to ground our attention and give us chance to simply pause and enjoy.

i stand alone

I like to use various containers as pieces of art in their own right. Some of the planters available are just beautiful and can be very intricate with their designs, displaying just the right amount of intrigue without being overwhelming, while others just entrance you with their simple elegance.

serenity sculpture & design

Sculpture or Container. Art by Design

ironplanter

This beautiful iron planter makes a unique and interesting accent. Not all containers need to be huge or in the traditional shape nor do they even need to be manufactured. Take the pumice stone planter below, nature's own creation.

pumice planter

Of course the classic's never fail to stand the test of time and find their way into gardens all over the world. Many designs have been around for hundreds of years and yet still manage to stake claim in our gardens alongside the newer, slicker models. There is something to be said for history and classical design.

classic italian terra cotta

Art's Nursery Garden & Home offers a huge and wonderful assortment of containers in colours and materials to suit your needs: concrete, iron, ceramic, terra cotta and more. They are also exclusive distributors of the Campania line of quality planters. Over the years Art's has been where I have found many planters that now grace my garden and capture the attention of visitors.

stacked slate

Go exploring and hunt for that perfect container. Do not be afraid to spend a little money on something unique as it will give you joy for many years. Who knows what you may find just laying around...? laying around


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Art's Nursery is a 10+ acre retail and wholesale garden centre located in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We've been in business at this same location since 1973 and we're proud to serve you today!

We carry an incredible selection of plants, shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials, vines, groundcovers, roses and much more. Soils, bulk materials, pottery and a variety of garden accents are also available.

Our plant selection is so large that you can actually drive a golf cart while you shop!

We pride ourselves on providing high quality plant, expert advice and an exceptional gardening experience.

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