Saturday, September 10, 2016

2016 Container Plantings in the Cottage Garden


I moved a clay pot with Petunia (ex small-flowered magenta,) marigold Tagetes sp. and bacopa 'Snowstorm giant snowflake' into the main cottage garden border. I did this to fill a gap made by plants cut back at the end of season and to provide color other than the boring pinks that remained. In spite of the extreme heat and humidity, there is a feel of fall in the air accentuated by the falling, yellowing leaves of the walnut trees and the orange and yellow colors of some of my container blooms. Every year I vow to reduce the number of containers I maintain, but they are an essential element of cottage garden design. This year I have upward of three dozen: window boxes, patio pots, containers of mixed annuals, hanging baskets, and potted shade plants in the stone garden. They require daily watering and some deadheading, but I feel the labor is worthwhile. Let me show you some of them and see if you agree.

On each side of an arbor in the cottage garden are twin tubs planted with Zinnia elegans 'Cut and come again,' Petunia excerta, marigolds Tagetes sp. and more bacopa. I started all (except the bacopa) from seeds indoors early in the year. I am particularly pleased that the petunias seen here and in the container at the top of this posting thrived, as it was quite difficult working with their minute seeds. I received both types of petunia seeds from Nan Ondra.

One of two similar container plantings

This spring, I moved the big planters that I originally bought for the bottom of the kitchen garden onto the patio. I had a desire to use large plantings to give a sense of enclosure and privacy to this area. I also wanted plants to balance the tall trug containing my herb garden located on the patio.  My dear friend Katharine suggested canna lilies. At first I wasn't sure, as these tropical-looking blooms do not suggest 'English cottage garden' to me.  Also, I thought they may be tricky to over-winter.  Putting trepidation aside, I decided to try them and purchased four from White Flower Farm.  I am so glad I did as I am delighted with the stunning result. Later, when I paid a visit to White Flower Farm, I saw they had cannas in their Lloyd border designed by the head gardener at Great Dixter, providing more reassurance that they were right for my garden.

Canna 'Striata'
Even the developing seed pods are beautiful.
The patio plantings, cannas and herb garden, from the den window.
Banana Tree in bottom corner of the patio

When Steve from Albanese Garden Center came to install a UV light in the pond, he gifted me the banana tree. It balances nicely with the cannas although again not English cottage garden style. I thought it appropriate to place my giraffe statue near it. This sweet beauty was a present from H.H. who knows I love giraffes. The banana tree, although from East Africa, and my statue together remind me of Diana who blogs at Elephant's Eye on False Bay in South Africa. For her Dozen for Diana's meme this month I'm selecting Canna 'Striata' as my new 'must-have,' hoping I can successfully store the rhizomes over the winter and enjoy the plants for many years.

Banana tree Ensete maurelli 'Red Abyssinian Banana'

Moving from the patio to the pond, I have numerous hypertufa containers purchased or received as gifts from Point Philip Perennials. A couple I made. Most are planted with sedums. My favorite this year is Sedum 'Autumn Fire' sitting behind the angel at the top of the waterfall. The blooms are gradually changing color from rosy pink to salmon bronze to a dark coppery red.


When you look across the cottage garden to the tractor shed, you will see the five window boxes filled with petunias. Again this year, I placed purple fountain grass Pennisetum setaceum in the center of each box. I used two different petunias: Supertunia 'Bordeaux' and Supertunia 'Sedonna.' There's also some bacopa in the center but the petunias crowded it out -- I wont use it next year.


I use perennials, annuals and houseplants in my stone garden containers. The crunchy lava stone underfoot gives the area its name. Part of the stone garden is a utility area: I place some pots to distract from the generator, air conditioner unit and water-hose link. My favorite container is filled with shade plants I rescued from the shade garden after the silver maple was felled.

Japanese painted fern, ostrich fern, heuchera and lamium. Hosta in smaller pot.

My houseplants, including begonias and Dracaena Lemon Lime plant, take a summer vacation outside.

Begonia sp. in front of mirror. Dracaena Lemon Lime plant bottom right.

I've learned over the years that fuschia thrives in the shady conditions of the back porch and Boston ferns love the shade of the grape-covered pergola on the deck.

Two fuschia of unknown species.
Boston ferns flourish on the deck.

These are just a few of my 2016 containers. Most are 'tried and true' with the introduction of those new tropicals to provide contrast and interest. I believe planters are a wonderful addition to the cottage garden or any garden. What do you think?

Enjoy the change in seasons!

Pamela x




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20 comments:

  1. I totally agree, I love planted up containers which is just as well as I don't have a big garden so I have to use containers for the over spill. I think they're so versatile, great for plugging up spaces in a border and they can also be moved about to make the most of the conditions they prefer.

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    1. Planters are great for big and small gardens, aren't they?

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  2. Yes, I can tell it's lots of labor but you LOVE IT.
    Storing rhizomes over the winter is something I could never do...wish you much luck. Great colors for this time of the year. ps for some reason I'm not getting dates (like to know what's resent)of all bloggers posts and you are one of them...strange.

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    1. I don't know what is wrong with Blogger's blogroll but I'm not getting all the dates either. I tried deleting my blogroll completely, then later carefully reentering all my favorite blogs -- still messed up. Must be Blogger. P. x

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    2. it is actually showing up on my blogroll as 'two days ago' (Still catching up after a few days away) I know your previous post didn't feed thru, but this one has!

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    3. I see it now. Guess I just have to be patient.

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  3. I very much like how you display and plant your containers. Canna are easy to over winter, so I am sure you will have them for years to come. The banana tree is a bit more fussy and more work, but I hope you do well with it. I too have a sitting giraffe, but mine stays indoors.

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    1. Any advice on how to overwinter the banana tree, Donna?

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  4. I love your container plantings. What a wonderful and colorful way to fill in the inevitable gaps that occur in the beds throughout the year.

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  5. Oh yes, the Cannas look great the way you have them planted in the pots! I've grown 'Cut and Come Again' Zinnias and they were great! My favorite Zinnias, though, are the 'State Fair Mix' and 'Zowie! Yellow Flame.' Your garden looks amazing!

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    1. 'Zowie' are my favorite. Don't know why I didn't grow them this year. I must try 'State Fair Mix.'

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  6. Like you, I get so frustrated at having to water my containers every day in the heat of the summer. But I have made mental notes of the problem children, and I won't put them in pots again. I had so many zinnia seedlings that I ran out of space in the ground, and put some into pots. Well, that was a mistake! In the ground, they never mind going without water. In a pot, they pouted at me constantly. Never again.

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    1. I don't mind watering, Robin, because I have help. My husband fills the water cans late in the day and places them near the containers. I get up very early the next morning and my first task is to hand water all the containers. I agree the flower beds need less attention, but then there's the weeds ...

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  7. Lovely containers, Pam! I have many here too, and yes, the daily watering is a task, but I tend to enjoy it. There is nothing like containers to brighten up the landscape. Two years ago we were given some dark bronze cannas and I've overwintered them quite well, but my biggest problem is how much they've multiplied. I guess I'm going to have to decide how many to keep and let the rest go. My basement fruit cellar isn't big enough to accommodate the entire crop this year. Love the window boxes, just gorgeous.

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    1. How do you overwinter your cannas, Karen? And, yes, I can see mine have multiplied even in the containers.

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  8. I love your patio. I just got into container gardening this year. I have them in the front of the house. For me they are so easy to take care of and look nice.

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    1. Glad you like the patio -- my husband and I installed it ourselves several years ago, and I built most of the stone, retaining wall (can't see it in the picture above.) We are immensely proud of it as we are not 'handy' people. Containers are very easy to take care of, in my opinion.

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  9. when I grow up, I will learn to refresh the planting in my containers.

    Cannas make me think of Victoria's former garden in London - that was a tropical theme. But treasured exotics would also be part of the cottage garden mix. (Dahlias spring to mind)

    No cannas here but we do share the banana, and the giraffe ;~)

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  10. Pam, I love your beautiful pots -- especially the cannas. Those Striata ones are amazing! Thanks for providing a link to where you purchased them. I've been thinking recently that next year I might want to make a tropical plant area around our patio, and those would look wonderful there. Thanks for the great ideas! Best, -Beth

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  11. The particularly wonderful thing about your containers is the diversity of plants in them! I have just returned from visiting Helen Dillon's garden in Ireland. There, she uses containers to fill the gaps in borders big-time. Looking at the tired borders in my own garden, I am going to have to embrace the extra work and grow more in containers in 2017. Your beautiful container plants have certainly inspired me - it is certainly worth all the extra hours.

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