Monday, June 29, 2009

Pots “R” Us (In special places) by Gardener Dave

There were a couple of problem areas in my yard where nothing seemed to grow well. I didn’t want to put a lot of work into them for reasons which I will explain. One location is in a far corner with a utility pole in it. The grade there is already a bit higher than my neighbor’s and would require a preliminary dig-out to put in a raised bed so as not to harm the fence. However, I kind of like the way my yard slopes gently up to that stage-like corner. The other reason for not putting in an extensive/expensive raised planter bed there - the plants would get pretty well destroyed if the “Power to the People” (Xcel) crew decided that major work is needed up the transformer pole, or (heaven forbid) the pole needs replacing. Since the corner was slightly elevated, I decided to put some “characters” on my little stage in the form of graduated-size terracotta pots. These I plant with annuals each spring. This year I put a row of Calibrachoas in front of the pots. The pots are filled with moisture-retaining potting soil and everything is watered by drip irrigation so maintenance is pretty much just fertilizing and a bit of deadheading. In the late fall I remove the annuals, let the pots go dry, and cover them with plastic to keep the soil dry so it doesn’t expand and crack the pots. If the Power People need to work there, at least they won’t be destroying perennials or an elaborate raised bed, and the pots can be moved.

The other problem area was below my deck in one end of a brick planter that was built at the same time as the house. It gets no direct sun. The light source there is primarily reflected light off the concrete driveway. This seems to be adequate for Impatiens and a few other shade plants. It looked bad, so I decided to give it the “graduated size pot treatment” also. There was room for only three “sized” pots, which I planted with New Guinea Impatiens, “Can Can” Coral Bells (Heuchera ‘Can Can’), and a “Little Lantern” Ligularia (Ligularia x hessei ‘Laternchen’) which I have not tried before. So far they all seem to be happy there. I wish I had a “before” picture to show you, as it’s like the expression “You Had to be There” to see what it was like originally, with Oregon Grape Holly trying to extend itself into those shady conditions from the middle of the planter. It got tall and lanky and very weedy-looking. Needless to say, it is no longer there. Good riddance!

Gardener Dave