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Garden Katha - Tale Of A Garden Enthusiast

Sreemoti Mukerjee Roy

June 2010  - Potted Plants – Masses of Color


So you spent Memorial Day enjoying the much needed break and at the grill. Those plans of really getting the garden going this year somehow escaped from the list of things to do.  June is coming to an end and you are now saying to yourself – Oh well gardening takes a lot of time. I will just buy a hanging plant for the doorway. It’s easy and colorful.  After all who wants to mess with soil, and mulch, and planting?


You have hit upon the perfect solution – the potted garden. That is where it all began for me – with my first potted plant. My classmates presented me with an indoor chrysanthemum to tide me through my first winter in the US. I had never tended to a plant before and had to ask basic questions about what to do, to keep it alive. Armed with the new found knowledge that water, sun and warmth would keep the mums alive, I ventured into what would turn into a life-long love affair with flora and fauna, annuals, perennials, and container gardening! First indoors and then outdoors. 


Yes, you can create an outdoor garden with potted plants and flowers, and herbs.

I do it every year even though I have a real garden that people stop by to enjoy, and some even paint. And now is the time to do it when the spring flowers have gone and the lush foliage in the post-spring garden is crying out for blooming colors (pun intended).  So go ahead, create your own potted garden.  And you will get just as much pleasure as one growing naturally - or almost as much. 


You can just start off by getting some colorful annuals which are at this time available in abundance and inexpensive for the most part. Buy that hanging plant that you have been admiring at your neighbor’s. Buy three instead of one. Hang them up wherever you have plant hooks, indoors and outdoors. Or put them on the ground or on the outdoor table, as I often do, wire, hook and all. It not only makes cheerful focal point but it is also easier to water.


I usually buy three similar plants in different colors or three different plants in contrasting colors in same sized similar pots, and place one on each alternate step.  This year I decided to go with tropicals by the door. The pink Mandeville in a warm brown wooden planter adds a striking splash of color highlighting the burgundy and glass front door, while the green and white of the Jasmine trailing over the muted black v-shaped container lends a subtle elegance. Best of all I bought the plants potted, put them in their respective containers and voila! I was done.


Of course, then I had to change the potted plants in the driveway. I have four (half whisky) barrels that continue to weather the elements. In keeping with the weathered look so to speak, I opted for the old-favorite Vinca and some German Thyme. The hot pink and white flowers of the upright Vinca with its defined leaves contrast nicely with the patina of the container while the rambling thyme complements and adds texture. I bought all the plants in bio-degradable containers and planted them as is, container and all. How easy is that?


If this still seems like too much work, place the plants, container and all, under the trees in the garden. I tend to go for Impatiens, Coleus, and Elephant Ears as these do well in dappled shade. These annuals multiply quickly and come in many shades. Get these in bio-degradebale containers, tear off the bottom or not, place randomly, and you have an instant color-filled garden!


Interested only in edibles? You can get an assortment of herbs in individual containers and put these in a large wooden window box or in terracotta pots. I have Variegated Sage, Tarragon, Silver Thyme, and Mint grouped together in a round shallow pot. Two rectangular window boxes hold Geraniums, Marigolds and Basil. I may take cuttings and plant in my vegetable patch. But I still am debating whether to transplant the container vegetables or let them remain contained.


And if you are still under a time crunch with no time for the garden store, let your indoor plants summer outdoors.  Place these under an awning or under a tree to prevent sun-burn (yes, indoor plants, nurtured at home will burn in direct sunlight) until these adjust to the light and temperatures. Water generously as plants in pots tend to dry out faster. Then depending on the type and need, move these to the front door, or to the back porch. I have mine on the deck and under the maple tree – my potted garden.


Sreemoti Mukherjee Roy resides in Lexington and when she  is not writing columns on gardening is busy in her garden.

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