August 11, 2013

Outstanding Summer Containers

This fabulous golden explosion is no accident, thanks to some early-planted Proven Winners like their Flambe®  Chrysocephalum apiculatum ( that's it on the left). In bloom for 4 months now and still going!

I had low expectation with much of my garden this year, due to puppies, our crazy weather ( hottest July on record, wettest June on record, and now perhaps the coldest August?) and then, of course, my work-load, yet somehow, the plants are doing their best to be outstanding, so here are a few photos of some of my containers, most of which I have not fussed over - in fact, I dare say, I yanked succulents out of their pots and dropped their root balls into many of the containers on the deck, and then had to travel for work, so I never even filled in around them with soil. Still, they look pretty fine. Click MORE, to seem more images...

Last year I was able to obtain some new varieties of Eucomis - the Pineapple Lily, but these are only a few inches tall, which makes them perfect for small pots. Paired with a few Manfreda 'Chocolate Chips'. the effect is super,
and photo opp's seem to occur whenever I move these pots around.

Try combining plants with similar forms, such as this grouping of  Manfreda 'Chocolate Chips, the summer bulbs of Eucomis, a pot of Aloe 'Christmas Carol' and the prickly bromeliad, Dykia 'Nickle Silver', an eBay purchase.

The now easy-to-find Manfreda 'Chocolate Chips' can make a statement even when grown alone in a container.

Abutilon's, or Flowering Parlor Maples make terrific summer blooming plants for large containers, but this pure white
selection is my new favorite. 

I think it is safe to say that this year, I have neglected the garden, it's design and especially container selection
and arrangement more than any other year, but somehow, they are all pulling together to work visually. Here is
a view of our main entrance to the house, where I placed most of the pointy plants, so that I could
have fewer visits to the vet this year, until the puppies mature.

All of the agapanthus tubs, which spend the winter under glass, are now in full bloom. Here is
the tall dark blue selection named ' Storm Cloud'.

I have four tubs of a very large unknamed white agapanthus, which I place strategically around the boxwoods
in the formal part of the garden in front of the greenhouse. These are delighting our hummingbirds right now!

Speaking of humminbirds, this tall Iochroma cyaneum 'Royal Blue'. is now two years old, and so
much nicer now that I have trained it into an 8 foot tall standard. It's been in bloom all summer.

Sinningia sellovii x S. tubiflora  'Lovely'. A tender, or semi-hardy tuberous relative of the African Violet -
an unlikely consideration, but worth growing even in cold zone 5 gardens like mine ( you can keep dormant, dry
pots alive in a cool cellar like potatoes).

More unusual potted specimens sit on the gravel walks, like these two, on the left a highly collectable bromelliad known as Abromeitiella ( I am addicted to these as they make fine potted plants) and on the right, the hard to find Cycad; a ten year old specimen of Encephelartos horridus.

I do love large Acacia trees, and after seeing two large specimens at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden last week, I had to repot my seedlings so that I can get the same look. Acacia longifolia needs a very large tub, and a cold greenhouse.

Even the potting bench has some interesting combinations, such as these small pots of Cyrtanthus mackinii 'Hobgoblin', which I am trying to grow in pure sand.

This week we said goodbye to a bird that we rescued, and now placed. So long Flankers! A Red Lory is not nearly as noisy as an African Grey, but, trying to keep up with his need for fresh nectar was tough! He now lives in New Hampshire on a sheep farm.
A Sinningia tubiflora cross, blooms for much of the summer in a large, terra cotta pot. It
comes in under a bench in the cold greenhouse for the winter months.


  1. Hi Matt, just found your blog. I love your set up in MA. Evergreen shrubs with raised beds = timeless design. Interesting that you use the term lifestyle designer. Are you a Tim Ferriss fan?

    Elliott Hallum

  2. Hi M. Elliott- Welcome aboard! Tim Ferriss...really? You know, I have friends that went to high school with him - anyway, his logic interests me, but doesn't it seem like he now works a 89 hour work week? Honestly, I think I would most likely work the same hours - after all - if you love what you do....

    1. I can tell you love what you do based on the photography. Cheers to your journey up there in MA.

      That article from Switzerland is motivating me to plan a trip. Those images are stunning.

  3. You may say you neglected your garden but it sure doesn't look like it ...well maybe the photo with the sneaker ;)

  4. Oh Diane, I had a photo where I removed the sneaker from the shot, but then I felt that it added a sense of reality!
    How funny! Thanks for your comments! Of course, if you really saw the rest of the garden, you may feel differently!


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