When people find out I’m a free lance writer, they tend to assume I write about food. So when they find out I mostly write about gardening, they then begin to assume that I’m some fabulous gardening guru and start asking me questions about their gardens or tell me they’d love to come see mine sometime, which leaves me in a bit of a stammer because my gardens are really not all that. For starters, I’m lazy. Secondly, my lot gets lots of shade, so there are any number of plants I would love to have that just simply, don’t do well in our yard, like roses. How lazy am I? Take my front porch hanging baskets. Instead of completely overhauling them with the seasons, I merely remove what’s looking a bit ratty and replace it with something fresher. This is how I have had the same pinks, aka, dianthus, in my hanging baskets for at least two, if not close to three summers now (even if they are starting to get a little leggy), nestled next to an ornamental kale from last fall as well as some pansies. As the baskets started looking a bit rough earlier in the spring, I bought a few plants from a local greenhouse to fill in the gaps.
While writing an article for Roanoke Valley HOME last summer, I learned about Hort Couture. A grower that specializes in exclusive varieties that stand out and perform in the garden, Hort Couture only works with independent garden centers and greenhouses. I fell in love with not just the idea of them, but with their plants over the course of writing this article, so when I discovered last fall that the same market vendor I bought my eggs from carried their plants, I was giddy. Particularly for the coleus. I like coleus because it holds up so well in summer heat, but I get bored with seeing what feels like the same plant everywhere. Know what I’m saying? These however, I love.
So thanks to Modesto Farms Greenhouse, I now have some Under the Sea© Bonefish and Under the Sea© Sea Urchin Neon coleus in my hanging baskets. (Local friends, Modesto Farms is only at the Saturday City Market. Their stand is located next to Radical Roots, in the corner that backs up to South Street. They have no website.) I also added some sweet potato vines for trailing and in the basket that gets more sun, a pineapple sage plant for some height.
The back porch hanging basket, which I never fail to neglect horribly, was inspired by something I saw at a farmer’s market in Richmond – summer squash planted in a hanging basket. Of course, the plants are already looking leggy two weeks into sprouting, so I’m not feeling this is going to work out well. But you can’t know it won’t work until you try, right? And my friend Cynthia keeps telling me I need to try more container gardening. So far, the only container of something that isn’t an herb or flower that hasn’t been eaten by small critters is that hanging basket. The funny thing about this is that Betsy has recently discovered exactly how many small furry critters make themselves at home in our yard and spends her days hunting them. Somehow, they still escape her.
Which may or may not have much to do with her love of lazing on the back porch. Such is the life of a hound dog.
I’ve added a few other fun plants to the front porch and nearby yard, like this variegated geranium (it’s flowers are variegated too!) and begonia. I bring my geraniums and begonias inside during the winter and somehow manage to keep them alive, although these two might find themselves coming upstairs to our bedroom, where they will most certainly get the love they need to make it through.
My Henry pot of sedum got hit by aphids the early part of the year, but I managed to fend them off with a spray bottle filled with soap and water as well as some spraying with the hose. They were looking rather rough there for a while, but they finally seem to be recovering nicely. I sadly discovered the bottom of the Henry pot had broken last summer – that pot sat neglected on my cousin Henry’s back porch for years before getting deposited in a forgotten corner of his yard when he moved. It withstood some brutal Pennsylvania winters and not wanting to kill the contents, I proceeded to leave the pot on my front porch year round in the name of mimicking the conditions it was used to. All that weather has taken a toll on the clay pot, as it will, but I discovered my large canning pot had rusted through in some spots on the bottom about the same time as I discovered the broken bottom on my Henry pot. I plopped one into the other and voilà! A new home for the Henry pot. It also blends well with the other old kitchen items I’ve repurposed into planters, but I’ll save that post for another day.