But plants are a different story. I take in orphan plants and give them a home. (I don't actually name them, the Latin is enough.) My own garden's design is such that there will always be room for the plant escaping an early death. A client had several Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea, that had been crushed by a falling limb during a thunderstorm. They were essentially missing an arm and two legs, fairly misshapen and surely not worthy of a front garden. The plants were not dead, just in need of a year or so of rehab, which I kindly offered them. Today, I made the rounds to check on my rehab patients and was pleased to see their progress. All have new leaves emerging -- and how appropriate for Easter -- unfurling like little hands folded to pray as the days warm.
I even take in orphan plants from the nursery. Technically, they haven't been abandoned but rather just up for adoption and like human adoptions, there's a little cost involved. Sometimes I think I understand the California woman who had octuplets this spring: I just cannot have one and wonder about the many others left behind for uncertain fate! I want as many as will fit on my cart, or in the back of my very large SUV (a lot). Today, I adopted a nice brood to fill some bare spaces and containers while I await the return of some late spring perennials.
Here are some helpful hints for great looking containers:
- Use a variety of colors, textures and sizes (the tallest being no more than the height of the pot). Experiment!
- Select a color scheme, sticking with either a warm/hot palette (reds, oranges, yellows) or cool palette (blues, purples, bit of yellow), using white and green as neutral.
- Make sure the plants require similar sun exposure (i.e., don't mix shade plants with sun plants no matter how awesome the will look together - it won't last) and that they will thrive in the location the pot is placed (i.e., don't put shade-loving plants in a pot that will bake on the patio).
- Pack in the plants! Typically, pots are filled with annuals with a short bloom season and don't have time to grow and fill out like the perennials and shrubs in the garden. Put as many plants into the container as possible (keeping their soil around the roots) for instant beauty!
- Give the plants a good start with good potting soil, some organic slow-release fertilizer and plenty of water. It's also a good idea to replace the soil in older pots every couple of years -- just spread the old dirt in another spot in the garden.
- Water, water, water -- every day if it does not rain, and in the morning so the roots have time to absorb the water and are not boiled in the afternoon heat.