Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Container Garden: A Midsummer Assessment

Marigolds in an old harvest basket on our deck. They don't ask for much.

Let me remind you all by saying that I am not a gardener who likes to cultivate tender, fussy plants that need a lot of coddling, insight or subtle preening. I like to participate in the sturdy and low maintenance adventures in the garden. In almost a clumsy, brutish way. Plant, water, deadhead and the occasional dose of organic fertilizer.

Every year, the brutal Virginia summers teach me a little something more about growing things in containers. New additions such as bacopa and snap dragons (which lulled me with their looks at the nursery) can't handle it in my garden.

Also, the larger the container the better. Glazed pottery far surpasses the traditional terracotta. Less watering, less drying out. A tad bit of mulch in each container seems to help, as well. And bi-weekly feedings with compost tea made some plants go the distance.

Thriving With Very Little To-Do

Sweet potato vine
Black-eyed Susan Vine
Scaevola (a.k.a. Fan Flower)
Globe Amaranth
Boston Fern
Morning glories
Cypress Vine

A Mediocre Showing

Sweet Peas
Sweet William

Eking Out an Existence (a.k.a. 'Never Again')

Sweet Alyssum


Marvie said...

Lovely container! I think yellow flowers are so happy and cheerful =)

I'm on the VA coast, first year really gardening so I made some unwise plant choices considering our heat and lack of rain but I've been doing my research into tougher plants so hopefully next year will be better! I'm tired of spending half my life watering lol. Granted, most of what I put in is new so they need time to get established, maybe next year they won't be so demanding. If they are, they'll have to find new homes though!

Tracey said...

Thanks so much, Marvie - I agree about yellow flowers!

Good for you - for doing research on tougher plants for Virginia. The lack of rain is crazy-making. I, too, feel like I'm watering more than I would like to be . . . I would love to hear about your successes.

Lonnie said...


You might try some of the more old-fashioned varieties of Impatiens or Snapdragon. I've found that they are much more hardy. In fact, my snapdragons come back year after year. I got my impatiens from my grandmother and they self seed.

Of course, I probably fall into that category you mentioned of someone who ofen grows odd plants requiring a bit more care. Sharon helps balance that tendancy out somewhat in our gardens. Of course, I've got a rule that if I kill something three times that I'm not allowed to grow it anymore (or at least until I'm sure I'm doing something drastically different to help it survive).

carrol said...

My bucopa blooms sporadically..all at once ...and then nothing for weeks..I still love the scent the whole plant gives I wont toss it yet.

Mary Beth said...

When I lived in Texas, snapdragons were always planted in the early spring to enjoy when the weather first warmed up and when there weren't a lot of other flowering plants to enjoy. As the seasons changed the snaps were replaced with zinnias and cosmos, or other sun lovers and plants that didn't mind the heat, dryer conditions. These in turn were replaced by pansies for fall color when it cooled down again.

Tracey said...

All of your thoughts are so helpful. It is so important to commiserate, yes?

This is just the time of the year when I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle in the garden.

So, it is important to remember what works, what isn't meant to work and what will return!