Photographed Allium christophii today. I love how Alliums confidently stand up in the landscape in June. Certainly not shy they stand out. Deer resistant and showy they take an “altitudinous” position in the garden.
It is ironic that May Day is an emergency word used internationally as a distress signal in radio communications that we have seen used in the movies. It is ironic, because the arrival of the first day of May is a celebration of flowers and spring. May Day was celebrated on May 1 by some early European settlers to North America with May baskets. These are baskets that were filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. The person receiving the basket tries to catch the fleeing giver; if caught, a kiss is exchanged. Good idea to wear your track shoes that day.
Today the arrival of May usually means the last frost days are passing and tender flowering plants can be enjoyed in our gardens and landscapes.
Mother’s day is a weekend to give and receive flowers to celebrate both Mom and the promise of a new gardening season. Later in May as we celebrate the Memorial Day holiday, plants and flowers play a big role in remembrance as well as our home gardening enjoyment.
I read recently that “a weed is a flower with an advertising budget”. Today plant breeders have developed flowering plants for our landscapes that bloom longer, brighter and more reliably than the blooms enjoyed years ago. Dahlias, Pansies, Gerbera Daisies, Calibrachoa, Coleus and Petunias are great examples of how we have come a long way baby. Container gardening popularity has driven the development of reliable, continuous blooming and colorful plants that you can enjoy all summer long in your little corner of the world.
An easy container to design is a mono-culture container. Choose a single variety for your container along with an attractive container. Next mono-color combinations use two different shades of a color, but because you are using the same color you don’t have to worry about the colors clashing…they blend in shades.
Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel and mix together easily. These can be effective and very colorful combinations of pink and red, pink and orange (a favorite of mine) yellow and orange, orange and red, violet and red, blue and green, and blue-violet. My favorite approach is using complimentary colors. On a color wheel, complimentary colors are directly opposite of each other…like red and green, orange and blue, or yellow and violet. Finally you might want to try your hand at a three way combination color scheme.
I call it a triple play, some people call it a triad. This combination uses 3 colors that are spaced equally on the color wheel – the points of a triangle. Examples would be a red-yellow-blue or violet-orange-green combination. Try a red-yellow-blue or pink-yellow-blue triangle combination.
Here are two quick pointers for your May Day combinations.
Remember that pink is a great color to include because it plays well with almost any color including orange and red. Also remember for best success plant your container working from the inside to the outside of the pot thinking “Focal, Filler, Edger, Trailer”.
The trend of “set-abouts”
By the time April rolls around we are ready for some spring, soil and nature. It’s time to enjoy gardening again. It’s only natural our patience has “gone to pot.” April is the perfect month to practice your container gardening skills. Pots give us the chance to get our hands dirty and plant something. If a frosty night tries to spoil our garden party we can move the pots under cover. This gives us a chance to get a jump on the season. What plants do I use to get that kick in the plants? I would recommend considering the following in containers for the early spring season:
• Frost tolerant Pansies
• Herbs (mixed planters)
• Vegetable plants, understanding if the nights get frosty they will have to be rolled inside or covered. Generally our last frost date is not until May. Some vegetables like broccoli can handle a light frost. (Plants in the Brassica family known as Cole Crops)
When it comes to containers succulents are the perfect adaptable plant for indoors or out. With great variety and interesting texture it is no wonder succulents are a very popular trendy plant right now. Recently I went to the dollar store to buy some soup ladles. I planted Succulents and Tillandsia in the ladles and posted this picture in social media.
I was amazed at the response and shares the post received! I call it the trend of “set-abouts”. Plants in a variety of containers used to brighten our corner of the world both inside and out. Recently attending a show in Florida I snapped these pictures of succulent “set-abouts” that took the idea to the extreme. It points out however that container plantings come in all forms limited only by your creativity.
Another means of “set-about” is to purchase early season plants at the garden center and “baby sit” them for a few weeks indoors. This can also be done with seed starting in containers. On nice days when the air is calm they can be set out to begin “hardening off” to the great outdoors. Come May after you’ve had your early spring gardening fix, they will be ready to make it on their own outdoors.
As with all container planting remember to allow for growth, use a good quality potting soil, and provide for drainage out the bottom.
The idiom “cabin fever” perfectly describes that claustrophobic feeling we have after months indoors peering out the windows over the frozen tundra. We long for the color green and the aroma and feel of soil as the earthy canvas for renewal. I have read studies that claim soil has natural anti-depressant qualities and I be-”leaf” it.
I recently read the Garden Media Group Garden Trends report stating “Forest bathing” is the medicine of being in the forest and is today where yoga was 30 years ago. Research continues to tell us that time spent in nature reduces stress and increases well being. From the practice of using living plants to “soundscape” our landscapes (buffering noise) to the simple benefit of a shade tree providing a sunscreen equivalent to SPF 10, we instinctively understand the benefits of nature.
I remember in the 70’s the houseplant and indoor foliage craze and that too has found a resurgence of sorts. Today two things drive the resurgence. One is the array of options for indoor plants from succulents to tillandsias, citrus to herbs and trendy foliage like fiddle leaf figs. The second thing driving the resurgence is the tech savvy Millennials (18-34). Five million of the six million ‘new’ gardeners last year were 18-34 year olds, according to the 2016 National Gardening Report. These tech savvy millennials will “naturally” make gardening a 365 day-a-year activity via indoor lighting, apps, lifestyle and indoor growing techniques. This attitude carries over to the workplace where ROI is replaced by ROV (return on value) understanding that plants create happier and healthier workers.
An understanding has “seeded” in the minds of Americans that finding joy in less is part of a downsizing trend to gardening in smaller spaces. Keeping what you need or love and what loves your garden and de-cluttering the rest. Creating boundaries and defining spaces.
Beat that cabin fever and get “wealthy” by adding some plants to your indoor living space and going for a forest bathing walk in the woods. March is a great month to “turn over a new leaf”.
Here’s hoping the beautiful weather we enjoyed on Valentine’s day is sign of things to come! Hoping for an early spring 2017!