Creating A Colorful Patioby Brian Wheat on July 11, 2011 at 10:45 am
In this day and age, so many of us have downsized. Our “gardening area” has diminished and is confined to a small deck, porch or patio. The days of coming home from work to a huge chore of weeding, deadheading, dragging the hose around and harvesting the fruits of our labor have been reduced to some nice planters on the deck. I personally am guilty of this and love it. I’ve had homes with huge gardens with plantings of unusual and exotic flowers and plants that don’t necessarily grow in my environment. I’ve learned of microclimates and techniques to help these plants survive.
Now over age 50, I’ve decided it’s time to scale down. But, I’m still having a blast gardening and have some very cool plants and flowers to show. I live on a golf course in a patio home; so small-scale gardening is a hot topic for me. My two umbrella planters on the tables are small-scale golf greens, planted with Irish and Scotch moss surrounded with smooth pebbles, a teed up Callaway finishes the look. I like to say, “You are only limited by your own imagination!”
If you’re not sure where to start with your small space, here are a few pointers.
1. Know your environment. Is it full sun? Shade? Partial sun? Windy? How easy is it to water? Picking the right flowers for your location is vital. Putting shade-loving double impatiens in full sun will just frustrate you and defeat your goal. Planting zinnias in shade will not work.
2. Choose cool containers. Once you know your conditions, go to your garden center and pick out some cool, colorful, maybe even funky pots. Today’s selection of pottery includes the traditional clay pots and plastic containers, as well as some neat, brightly-colored pots of different shapes and sizes. Imagine a lime colored strawberry pot with dark blue lobelias trailing out with purple gomphrenas as the focal point on top.
3. Buy dirt. So now that you have some cool pots, consider the soil. A nice mixture of Canadian sphagnum peat moss, compost, vermiculite, perilite, charcoal and a wetting agent are recommended. Good drainage is a must. Don’t get nervous, you don’t have to mix this; it’s already in bags at the greenhouse ready to go, some with a fertilizer already mixed in. Adding some polymers in the soil — those little crystals that reduce watering and labor — will be beneficial to your plants. Ask your local garden center guru for recommendations and advice.
4. Picking plants. Now comes the fun part, picking out your plants. Bright colors, texture of foliage, bloom and growth sizes, trailing or upright, variegated, are just a few considerations. Mixed pots are as unique as the gardeners who plant them. You can match them or make them opposites, monochromatic (all plants in the same color family) or psychedelic. The choice is yours. It’s your deck, you’re the one who will be sitting back and relaxing, gazing on them and saying, “Very nice, cool flowers and oh, by the way, I designed and planted them.”
Experiment with varieties and plants you’ve never used. Nice red geraniums, a spike in the middle, a few yellow marigolds and petunias and some trailing vinca vine in a brown pot are nice and traditional. For something a little different, try a red banana in the middle, surrounded by hot lips salvia with some blue ageratum with fiery orange celosia and sun-loving coleus of lime around the edge mixed with double purple calibrachoa. Did I mention, it’s in a ceramic bright orange window box?
Gardening isn’t rocket science. It’s a fun way to show off your funky, individual style.
Tell me, how have you used your imagination to make your small garden beautiful?