The best thing about gardening in the Pacific Northwest is our year-round climate. We don’t have to put our tools away for the winter, but instead can discover the many options available for color and texture during the cold season of the year. Here are a few of the containers I’ve put together for October through March.
This year my favorite plant for the cooler months are ferns. I love the height they give to a ctontainer, as well as a beautiful vibrant green. I’m experimenting with the Himalayan Maidenhair fern, Adiantum venustum, to see how it takes the cold, I might have to do some clean-up or even swap it out with something else if it dies. I’ve also used Sword Ferns, Polystichum munitum, Alaskan Ferns, Polystichum setiferum, and Tassel Ferns Polystichum polyblepharum for a variety of texture. Pansies and violas add that bright pop of color and other plants I use are Heucheras, Hebes, Juncus, Grasses, Hellebores, Ivy and Vinca.
Something new for me this year is underplanting with bulbs. I’ve added daffodils and tulip bulbs around the larger plants and grouped in the middle. I’m hoping that in the early spring this will give the containers a new breath of life and hold them over until it’s time to plant summer annuals. And then the planting begins again.
I planted this container for a client and it finally came into it’s own when the purple fountain grass grew. For months this Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’ just sat there and waited out the cool months, barely inching its way upward. Finally, towards the end of July it started to shoot out and now in August it’s the focal point. Combined with the geraniums, verbena and calibrachoa, there is color and texture, loved by people and frogs alike.
Frogs like plants
Just the Facts
Purple Fountain Grass Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’
Zones 8-11 (Not reliably hardy in the PNW)
Likes sun, drought tolerant
Blooms late Summer through Fall
I planted these containers for a client last fall. The topiary arborvitae was in place, but she wanted color for the winter (we are so lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest where we can have color in the winter!). I added heuchera, a variegated carex sedge, a small heather, variegated lonicera (bush honeysuckle), pansies and chrysanthemums. The mums didn’t make it beyond a few weeks, but everything else sailed through the winter, passed merrily into spring and is overjoyed that summer is almost here! The pansies just won’t quit blooming, the heuchera has filled out, the lonicera continues to grow over the edge and I keep telling these two pots ‘you were supposed to be seasonal! I was going to add spring color, summer sun (we did put in a few dahlias and petunias) or perhaps more perennials. But instead of fading, you just kept getting better….more color, more texture, more flowers from those crazy pansies!’ I did fertilize with Alaska Fish Fertilizer once or twice a month and here are the results:
Autumn to Spring
Pansies Just Won’t Quit!
Heuchera Still Looking Good!
Eye to Eye
Twist of Pink
Yin and Yang
At the nursery where I work we have an annual employee container design contest. Here is some of the creative genius that is currently on display. Can you guess which one I made?
The hour is upon us and it’s time to garden. Minute by minute we wait for the sun to warm up the winter earth. Seconds slip by and seasons pass. We travel through days and weeks, yet the garden remains timeless. It covers the planet and still fits inside a tiny globe. It’s always time to garden.
Timeless Garden at the Flower and Garden Show
Tiny Globe Garden
I like this container design for its simplicity and repetition. And the colors are cool!
The colors of this plant are so diverse, it’s like using an artist’s palette in the garden. Amethyst, purple, chartreuse, black, caramel, multi-colored, chocolate, red, peach, burgundy and bronze are just a sampling of the colors. This North American Native, also known as coral bells, is a perennial favorite with many uses; deer resistance, flowers for cutting, dramatic foliage color, container or woodland garden, and attractive to hummingbirds. It blooms in the spring and summer with either red, pink or white flowers on tall, airy stalks. Size can be about 12 by 12 inches and grows best in full sun or partial shade. Heuchera plants are happiest with neutral or slightly alkaline soil, so adding lime once a year in our area would help them thrive. Happy heuchera!