Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thriller, filler, spiller

One of the great joys of spring is planting annuals. I love hanging baskets and window boxes and planters. All those magic containers with their bright blooms help dim the recent memories of snow drifts and minus thirty.  I like to make them up myself. 

Our property – as I may have mentioned – is a work in progress. The former owners' gardens were pretty much destroyed.  We are rebuilding, but it will be at least five more years until it suits us. So baskets and boxes will make us happy until the perennials mature and fill in the bald spots and we think of something creative to do with ‘the back forty’.

Time is short this week: something to do with writing books so that people who enjoy the book collector mysteries will have a new one in the works. But I found enough time to go hunting for plants at the garden center of our grocery store in the village. The rule of thumb for baskets is: thriller, filler, spiller.  Was I the last person in the world to learn this?

I needed an attractive eye-catching plant in the center, something on the taller side.  That needed to be surrounding by bright, shorter flowers, to ‘fill in’ the pot.  Finally, some vines or trailing blooms, spillers, to balance out the whole deal.  Here's a pretty bit of lobelia for my first basket.

It’s an easy concept, but I’d never done it that way. I’m all about the fillers and the spillers.  This time I thought to try the thriller.  I started with what I hope is going to be the right soil.  That’s a work in progress too.  We’re always looking for the right mix that won’t drown them or dry out when we have our annual August heat wave.

Here are the first two baskets:  For the first, I picked out a coleus with a lot of spicy red and dark dramatic borders 


 I filled in with some sweet dianthus (do pink carnations take any of you back to the day?) 

Next, I tucked the lobelia around.  Fingers crossed that it will like a sunny spot. If not, we'll switch it out.
  Finally, I just need to find the right spot for it. It won't stay on this chair!

Next, a project with a lovely fescue grass. 

It’s the first time I’ve seen this variation in the local shop.  I decided to surround the fescue with small red begonias. I love them and they’re tough little devils.  I also love the lime-color of the sweet potato vine.

My efforts cost about half the price of the pre-made baskets. Once they have a chance to fill out the basket, I know they’ll look great.  In the meantime, I tucked them into our old wicker hanging basket (garage sale!) sat down to admire, just as the temperature dropped to about forty and the wind caused the trees and the baskets to whip around. Canada. What can I say?
I’ll post pictures later when they reach their peak.  Right now, they're alive and planning to bring me joy this summer.

Next week, please join me for a trip to the market for begonias! 

And now, what about you? Do you have favorite annuals?  Any spring planting rituals you’d like to share?  Baskets or beds?