I Am a Slacker
June 16, 2014
Jennifer Hagler Photography
By Buffy York
A few of the shopping villages around my old house have the most beautiful groupings of concrete planters filled with an array of annual plants. Sally Legg was the person who coordinated the planting efforts that take place twice a year. Her combinations of flowers were always so unique. She told me once that she planned it out the year before in her own back yard by experimenting with different plants to see what would work together. As time would draw near to tear out the old and plant the new in my own containers I would be on the lookout for the planting activities that would take place in Crestline Village each spring and fall. I would then take an inventory of what was being planted and rush to the local nursery to recreate Sally’s horticultural art. Well, times have changed. It’s mid-June and today I finally bought annuals to bring my containers into the current season. I would like to tell you that we had such a cold winter and my pansies just looked so good for so long that I couldn’t bear to rip them out. I didn’t plant pansies this year. I have no excuse. I am admitting that I have slacked off in some areas and this is one of them.
So as my husband enjoyed watching golf on television, a Father’s Day ritual, I trekked it down to my favorite nursery in Birmingham. Mark Thompson of Leaf & Petal shared with me a few pointers when planting this late. First thing, no matter if you are planting for shade or sun, buy flowers planted in larger pots. My friends who had it together back in late April and bought their annuals then got the luxury of the less expensive 4″ plants. I bought the 6-8″ plants.
Also, if you have procrastinated like me and are just now planting, a higher level of attention is necessary to take care of our plants’ less developed root systems. Watering on hot summer days will be key. If you know you aren’t going to water regularly, and you do not have your irrigation system routed to your containers, succulents are a great option. Succulents are very vogue right now. They are sculptural and chic, will last all summer in the sun and are drought tolerant.
If you want all the color of a mix of flowers but have absolutely no interest in getting your hands dirty you can always buy pre-potted, premixed containers or hanging baskets. The nurseries’ growers have done all the work for you. However, removing the pre-potted containers from their original pot and planting in your own larger container with more soil will cut down on the amount of watering throughout the summer. Even the garden centers at Lowe’s and Home Depot offer these, however I feel that the smaller local nurseries have a better selection. In my experience you may pay a little more, but smaller nurseries’ more extensive and unique selection, the knowledge of their staff and the plants’ superiority far outweighs the cost.
Mark’s suggested plants for shade: Caladiums, Polka Dot Plants (A good substitute for Impatiens because the Impatien species has been compromised and will not last all summer. Read full article here), Fuchsia, Torenia, Coleus and Begonias
Mark’s suggested plants for sun: Lantana, SunPatiens, Creeping Jenny, Sweet Potato Vine, Vinca and Pink Zazzle.
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