I moved a clay pot with Petunia (ex small-flowered magenta,) marigold Tagetes sp. and bacopa 'Snowstorm giant snowflake' into the main cottage garden border. I did this to fill a gap made by plants cut back at the end of season and to provide color other than the boring pinks that remained. In spite of the extreme heat and humidity, there is a feel of fall in the air accentuated by the falling, yellowing leaves of the walnut trees and the orange and yellow colors of some of my container blooms. Every year I vow to reduce the number of containers I maintain, but they are an essential element of cottage garden design. This year I have upward of three dozen: window boxes, patio pots, containers of mixed annuals, hanging baskets, and potted shade plants in the stone garden. They require daily watering and some deadheading, but I feel the labor is worthwhile. Let me show you some of them and see if you agree.
On each side of an arbor in the cottage garden are twin tubs planted with Zinnia elegans 'Cut and come again,' Petunia excerta, marigolds Tagetes sp. and more bacopa. I started all (except the bacopa) from seeds indoors early in the year. I am particularly pleased that the petunias seen here and in the container at the top of this posting thrived, as it was quite difficult working with their minute seeds. I received both types of petunia seeds from Nan Ondra.
|One of two similar container plantings|
This spring, I moved the big planters that I originally bought for the bottom of the kitchen garden onto the patio. I had a desire to use large plantings to give a sense of enclosure and privacy to this area. I also wanted plants to balance the tall trug containing my herb garden located on the patio. My dear friend Katharine suggested canna lilies. At first I wasn't sure, as these tropical-looking blooms do not suggest 'English cottage garden' to me. Also, I thought they may be tricky to over-winter. Putting trepidation aside, I decided to try them and purchased four from White Flower Farm. I am so glad I did as I am delighted with the stunning result. Later, when I paid a visit to White Flower Farm, I saw they had cannas in their Lloyd border designed by the head gardener at Great Dixter, providing more reassurance that they were right for my garden.
|Even the developing seed pods are beautiful.|
|The patio plantings, cannas and herb garden, from the den window.|
|Banana Tree in bottom corner of the patio|
When Steve from Albanese Garden Center came to install a UV light in the pond, he gifted me the banana tree. It balances nicely with the cannas although again not English cottage garden style. I thought it appropriate to place my giraffe statue near it. This sweet beauty was a present from H.H. who knows I love giraffes. The banana tree, although from East Africa, and my statue together remind me of Diana who blogs at Elephant's Eye on False Bay in South Africa. For her Dozen for Diana's meme this month I'm selecting Canna 'Striata' as my new 'must-have,' hoping I can successfully store the rhizomes over the winter and enjoy the plants for many years.
|Banana tree Ensete maurelli 'Red Abyssinian Banana'|
Moving from the patio to the pond, I have numerous hypertufa containers purchased or received as gifts from Point Philip Perennials. A couple I made. Most are planted with sedums. My favorite this year is Sedum 'Autumn Fire' sitting behind the angel at the top of the waterfall. The blooms are gradually changing color from rosy pink to salmon bronze to a dark coppery red.
When you look across the cottage garden to the tractor shed, you will see the five window boxes filled with petunias. Again this year, I placed purple fountain grass Pennisetum setaceum in the center of each box. I used two different petunias: Supertunia 'Bordeaux' and Supertunia 'Sedonna.' There's also some bacopa in the center but the petunias crowded it out -- I wont use it next year.
I use perennials, annuals and houseplants in my stone garden containers. The crunchy lava stone underfoot gives the area its name. Part of the stone garden is a utility area: I place some pots to distract from the generator, air conditioner unit and water-hose link. My favorite container is filled with shade plants I rescued from the shade garden after the silver maple was felled.
|Japanese painted fern, ostrich fern, heuchera and lamium. Hosta in smaller pot.|
My houseplants, including begonias and Dracaena Lemon Lime plant, take a summer vacation outside.
|Begonia sp. in front of mirror. Dracaena Lemon Lime plant bottom right.|
I've learned over the years that fuschia thrives in the shady conditions of the back porch and Boston ferns love the shade of the grape-covered pergola on the deck.
|Two fuschia of unknown species.|
|Boston ferns flourish on the deck.|
These are just a few of my 2016 containers. Most are 'tried and true' with the introduction of those new tropicals to provide contrast and interest. I believe planters are a wonderful addition to the cottage garden or any garden. What do you think?
Enjoy the change in seasons!
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