Adding annual colour with garden containers
Adding blasts of colour to a garden setting is certainly worth the effort every spring. Wait until frost warnings have completed disappeared from the weather forecast, take your landscape plan to the garden centre and have some fun. For plant lovers, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.
Bold plantings can also give a tropical feeling to poolside areas. By keeping the plantings in containers, upkeep is minimal—which, of course, leaves more time for relaxation.
Here are a few tips to make sure you have stunning displays in pots or hanging baskets.
• Choose containers that fit in with the overall theme of the landscape. There are lots of materials to work with—everything from terra cotta and ceramics to metal and wood. Select materials that will complement your garden furniture and other accessories.
• Make sure containers have drainage holes and that the soil mix drains well. This will help you avoid root rot problems. Most ready-made container soil mixes will do the trick; it’s also a good idea to add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before planting.
• Removing spent blooms (i.e. dead heading) throughout the summer will encourage new buds to develop. If possible, use a drip irrigation system; this is the best way to ensure consistent watering.
Every year, Landscape Ontario and The University of Guelph partner to plant trial gardens to test the performance of newly released varieties of annuals. The following are a couple that performed exceptionally well in last year’s gardens.
‘Solcito’ trailing zinnia
This is a new small-flowered zinnia that blooms throughout summer without the need for dead heading. It is great for containers and tolerates drought extremely well.
‘Northern Lights Lavender’ pentas
This new pentas tolerates both cool and warm growing conditions, making it ideal for summers with varying temperatures; Northern Lights will bloom all summer long if grown under sunny conditions, and its nectar will attract butterflies.
Growing your own food
The hottest trend in gardening today also happens to be the oldest trend in gardening—finding a spot to grow some of your own food. In poolside gardens, this can easily be done in containers or by training dwarf fruit trees onto walls or fences. The latter process is called espalier, a method of growing fruit practiced in Europe for centuries.
Whatever works for you—be it a pot of cherry tomatoes, a mini herb garden, an arbor for grapes or a hanging basket for strawberries—there is always a way you grow some fresh produce, involve the whole family and complete that total outdoor oasis.
Denis Flanagan, well known for his gardening shows on HGTV, promotes the joys and benefits of horticulture through the ‘Green for Life’ program at
Landscape Ontario.com A horticulture graduate from Surrey, England, Flanagan has done projects for the British Royal Family, designed award-winning gardens for Canada Blooms, and has taught at Ontario’s Humber and Seneca Colleges.