by Lisa Fischer and Jennifer Gibson
Photography by Jamison Mosley
The Good Earth’s Designer Tips
With fall winding down and ornamental grasses and mums retiring for the season, what does your front entrance look like? How about the pots around your deck, patio or pool? We still have many months before tropicals such as palms and hibiscus can comfortably grace these spaces, and if you are running behind this season, your hunt for pansies and cabbage has likely left you empty potted. There is a simple yet beautiful solution — winter hardy evergreens and moss.
You might be surprised how many different looks can be accomplished by your selection of container and accompanying plant materials. The first example to the right takes simple to an extreme, leaving the finish on the container and the interesting texture of the plant to shine. Of course, those stars do give it a little extra something! The soil surface has been covered by sheet moss; we always suggest moss or other soil covering for a finished, professional look. The pot featured here has an Atlantic glaze, a weathered yet classic look. Depending on the plant materials chosen, this pot can accent both a classic or woodland landscape style. We paired it with Jade Waves Fernspray False Cypress.
Our second container features an Emerald Colonnade Holly planted in a glazed pot with a matte charcoal glaze. This simple glaze, one that gives the plants the spotlight, is a very popular container color right now. Although this particular holly does not produce berries, it has other desirable attributes such as a naturally tight pyramidal shape and a tolerance for shearing. We added artificial berries at the base as well to give it extra winter interest.
The third container has a white finish and along with the charcoal glaze above, it is one of our most popular colors. The contrast with any plant materials is dramatic. This planter has a lot of texture with a multitude of filler and spiller plant materials. An aptly named red-blooming camellia sasanqua called Yuletide is the centerpiece, and it is surrounded with English ivy, Southern Comfort heuchera, Nature series pansies and Autumn ferns.
Winter Tips for Container Gardening
1 Choose a planter that works with your design style. Make sure the container has adequate drainage and can have more holes drilled if necessary. Choose a container with thick walls; this will protect the plant roots from extreme heat or cold. All of the planters shown here are high-quality glazed pots able to withstand our winter freezes. With any planter, avoid leaving it unplanted and collecting water. The water can freeze and thaw multiple times during the season, severely weakening it and potentially causing breakage.
2 The inexpensive 50-pound bags of potting soil hold too much moisture for most container plantings. We suggest using Good Earth brand Professional Potting Soil; we have had it specially formulated for optimum growing.
3 When choosing plant materials, make sure to get ones with winter interest. Depending on the look you are trying to create, the plant options may include needle leaf evergreens such as yew, arborvitae, juniper or false cypress. Broadleaf evergreen options include camellia, fatsia, holly, magnolia, sweet olives, Elaeagnus or boxwoods. Deciduous plants such as shrub crepe myrtles, contorted filberts, Japanese maples, or deciduous hollies can provide winter interest as well. Shrubs and trees can live quite a while in a container if given the root room and proper care. Once they have outgrown their container, they can be planted in the landscape.
4 Good Earth brand Jump Start contains mycorrhizae, which encourages root establishment and consequently, increases plant hardiness and decreases plant stress due to environmental conditions such as extreme heat, drought and severe freezing.
5 Water, or lack thereof, is the biggest detriment to winter plantings. Plants do not like to freeze dry. Pay special attention to planters under cover that do not get rainfall. Consider purchasing a moisture meter; it is an inexpensive yet effective tool to determine soil moisture.
6 Be creative and ask questions; that is why we are here!
Need help with some Christmas gifts?
I can help. Iím Lisa Fischer, and my superpower is shopping. With the help of the folks at the Good Earth Garden Center, I have chosen two things I would love to see under my tree.
First, are these leather bags. Every gal needs a roomy leather bag. They are soft, attractive and durable. They can be used for an overnight trip or a trip to the gym (the one youíre going to join in January.) And these bags have purpose. They are from a group that supports Rwandan orphans. One reason I love shopping with Julie and Gregg Curtis at the Good Earth Garden is that they GIVE BACK. Besides going to Africa themselves, they find retailers who support charities around the globe.
The second, are these quilts. They are colorful as they are unique. I want every sofa and every bed in my home to have a quilt for those less-than-warm winter days. Grab one for a gift, but I bet youíll go back to buy one for yourself.
— Lisa Fischer