Master gardener Paul James adds a few new container plantings to his landscape.
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Looking for ideas on what to do with a formal container if you are an "informal" gardener? Want to know how to create a bog garden in a container? Master gardener Paul James shares some cool ideas.
"My wife fell in love with these concrete planters the other week, so naturally we bought them (figure A)," says James. Although they're a bit formal for his tastes, James admitted he needs to expand his horizons a bit when it comes to garden accessories.
Variegated privet (figure B) has become quite popular in recent years. While your first reaction to privet may be negative, James suggests that this particular variety is far more attractive than the more familiar, overplanted, solid green form. "And in my experience, it's far less inclined to reseed all over the place." Unfortunately this plant is only marginally hardy in USDA Zone 6; northward, it can be grown as an annual but in zones wamer than 7, it's evergreen. Variegated privet can ultimately grow to 15 feet, or it can be pruned back to a shorter height.
The contrasting forms of the privet and container work well together and the colors complement each other (figure C). "Because these planters are extremely heavy, I want to move them only once."
James spotted this trough at the same place where his wife saw the planters (figure D). "When I saw this trough on display, it was filled with a bunch of sedums, plants that require dry soil," says James, "and it was beautiful."
However, James decided to fill the trough with plants that require wet, boggy soil, rather than dry soil. The plants James chose to use include the following: Japanese sweet flag, or Acorus (figure E); horsetail rush, or Equisetum, both the upright and dwarf forms; and moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'), also called creeping jenny.
"I've warned you before about planting horsetail rush directly in the garden because it can spread faster than soft butter on hot toast," says James. "But in the trough, it'll be just fine." Creeping jenny also has a tendency to spread in the garden, but it's a little easier to control by pulling out the runners. "However, in the trough, I want it spread and slowly cascade over the sides."
To create his bog container garden, James plugs two of the three drainage holes at the bottom of the trough so that the container will hold water well. Then he adds potting soil to the bottom of the trough. He positions the plants in place (figure H) and adds more potting mix. Finally, he waters his newly planted trough.
Although it may be "against the rules" to plant in even numbers (such as in groupings of two, four and six), James had a purpose for using six plants in his trough. In this case, the two creeping jenny plants are going to grow together within a few weeks into one continuous plant (figure J). This time James was smart enough to plant this trough exactly where he wants it to stay, which means, unlike the urns, he doesn't have to move it.
When it's too cold or too wet to go out into the garden, it's time to plant a terrarium.