Early Pots and Containers
Early in my gardening life a friend who was leaving New Zealand started me off container planting. She'd planted a native Lemonwood (Pittosporum Eugenoides) in a half oak barrel. It was heaved onto a sack-barrow and wheeled onto the trailer. On arrival here at Mooseys I put it at the top of the driveway, near the door to the sleepout.
The Lemonwood seemed happy, though cramped, and I watered and fed it carefully through its first two years. Time passed, and eventually its roots escaped through the bottom of the barrel. The tree didn't seem to mind, and has always been positively healthy. It certainly outgrew its container with ease. Oops! I wonder where those roots have got to now?
Next to the Lemonwood is an old tin bath, also gifted by my friend. It ended up filled with succulents and grasses. Originally I had tried planting it with pretty things like miniature roses, but they looked really silly, and I forgot to water them.
Enter the toughies - some echeverias (just stalks from existing plants) were unceremoniously poked into the soil in the bath. Much better! Then I planted some variegated Spider plants at the back. I hoped that they'd survive the winters. And they did. In fact, fifteen years later they're still growing strong.
As an later experiment I added several concentrated clumps of mixed daffodils. I'd hoped that the soil in the tin bath wouldn't be too dry - I'll be able to drive into the garage and enjoy their yellow spring welcome. A white self sown aquilegia joined them. Alas, these good ideas didn't provide many flowers to admire, though the spring aphids appreciated the white aquilegia flowers!
potted flax, cordyline and erica
On each of the house patios I decided to have clusters of pots. Their contents over the years symbolised my different gardening phases. Originally the look for the decking pots was pretty, with miniature roses, petunias, daisies and pansies for Spring/Summer and Polyanthus for Autumn. They were never very successful. But I was ever so much younger then... And I didn't understand how much watering flowers in pots needed.
Then my spikey foliage phase started. This was a better look, helped by a surfeit of red cordylines, tussocks and flax hybrids at the local nursery's bargain bin. A couple of mail order yuccas followed, plus some crazy coloured coprosmas and a very elegant blue oat grass in a blue pot.
I let pansies share the pot space, and by late summer Bidens (a golden annual daisy) self seeded and livened up things. The new look pot family was a definite improvement. Alas - I have absolutely no idea what happened to that blue Oat grass. It simply faded away one season.
On the sunnier side of the house there are two paved patios, and these have always housed foliage plants in an assortment of cheap terracotta and glazed pots. There's always been a red cordyline in the dark green pot in the top corner, and pots of various sizes have stood on the steps to the front path. This has always been the spot for pots of daisies. I grow cuttings and replant them each year.
There are a few frost tender plants which I insist must live in pots. One is the peppermint-scented pelargonium (Pelargonium tormetosum) which I adore, and another is a perennial blue ageratum whose puffy blue flowers look beautiful in summer. In Autumn the pots go into the glass-house and cuttings are taken to ensure fresh plants for the next spring. These pots form another group near a planter box whose annual residents vary from year to year.
Circle of Pots
One year I planted bronze fennel in a blue pot, which looked quite unusual. The following year the fennel totally refused to grow. Great idea, though! Now I just grow it in the garden, and am forever pulling out little self-sown seedlings. But that's another story...
Pots by the Gum Tree
There's always been a circle of pots around the BIG GUM tree in the front lawn. It was very hard to keep the base of this tree clear and trimmed, so I used the pot circle to inhibit grass growth and give a tidier look. These pots were filled with pelargoniums, helichrysum petiolare, daisies and some spring daffodils. On one side was my most elegant planting (in a most inelegant mass-produced pot) - the pretty Japanese grass Hakonechloa Aureola.
Two small clusters of cheap pots live at the top corner of the driveway in front of the sleepout windows. These include my most expensive (costing over fifty dollars) and most disastrous (caterpillars) plant in a pot, a variegated Cordyline Albertii.
Recently the original variegated Cordyline died - from lack of water and over-abundance of caterpillars, not doubt! Its replacement is now firmly installed - so far so good! There are also Sempervivums, Heucheras in blue pots and clean green Phormiums underneath.
Watering the pots throughout the hot summer is always a chore. I've tried painting the insides with clay, and adding water retentive products to the potting mix, but the watering still has to be done. Some days when the dry nor-west winds blow I water at least twice - in theory, anyway!
The pots themselves are definitely not artistic. There are all sorts of terracotta pots, and others which are glazed and plainly coloured - nothing tiled, hand-painted or even remotely trendy. I also have subtly coloured plastic buckets with holes drilled in the bottoms which make good temporary homes for plants on the move. Often one of these joins a pot collection, looks good, and stays for a season.