Foundation planting with containers creates “a changeable garden”

Foundation planting with containers-a “changeable garden”

 Today’s article is about what I call a “Barbie Doll Garden.”  Here’s the story:

One of my favorite clients for a number of years is very easy to please as long as she gets ­exactly what she wants.  The problem is that I sometimes have to get really creative to reach that goal.  I spent a lot of time trying to get the entrance planting just right but she kept asking me to move this or change that.  Finally, in order to make the moving and changing easier, I got some nice clay pots and created a garden that can be moved around and changed easily.  I got tickled when I figured out that it was kind of like playing with a doll house and being able to change things easily and at will.

Containers in foundation planting for easy maintenance and change

Containers in foundation planting for easy maintenance and change

The planting is divided into three sections.  In this one by the drive, we installed a fieldstone border and added pea gravel for the “floor.  We set containers where we thought they should go and planted a combination of evergreen and flowering plants. The plants have been pruned to shape using bonsai techniques. Whenever Betty decides that something doesn’t look right, we can move it, prune it, or change the plant out for another one.  The next picture shows the end of the planting area which is framed with an arborvitae in a cast iron urn

containers in the foundation planting. Not the urn framing the end.

containers in the foundation planting. Note the urn framing the end.

The second section takes in a porch by the drive and curves around the corner to the main entrance.  I like the way pots of impatiens and caladiums flash their colors from an area behind the autumn ferns. We are able to move the accent plants around to get the placement just right.  As they say on the infomercials, “It really, really works.”

Containers of impatiens behind autumn ferns

Containers of impatiens behind autumn ferns

Permanent plantings of well shaped lorapetalum and dwarf nandina give a background for a bed of containers on the house side of the walkway to the front entrance.  We chose a combination of variegated cypress, dwarf procumbens juniper, dwarf yaupon, and frost proof gardenia for the perennial evergreens.  The bed is bordered with rock and has been filled and leveled with compost and cypress mulch for stability and levelling

cypress chips, rocks, and containers with shaped evergreens

cypress chips, rocks, and containers with shaped evergreens

We also left room to plant flowers.  I love the dragon wing begonias.  These are the most dependable begonias I ever worked with.  They can be used as bedding plants or in containers.  The begonias are replaced with pansies for the winter garden.

 

Bedding plants form a nice frame for the containerized evergreens.  I love the gardenia bloom

Bedding plants form a nice frame for the containerized evergreens. I love the gardenia bloom

To add balance for the planting at the end of the walkway, we added one more small bed around the cast iron horse head.  I selected three upright junipers and pruned them into an interesting topiary.  These plants will never be finished.  I have a picture in my head of each of the limbs having a flat top with rounded edges.  The final picture will take years.

Three carefully shaped topiaries in containers anchor the end of the stone walkway

Three carefully shaped topiaries in containers anchor the end of the stone walkway

To add color, I found a large dragon wing hanging basket and planted it in this terra cotta pot.  The plant had been root bound in the basket and it almost exploded when it received room for its roots and a goodly dose of liquid fertilizer.

Dragon wing begonia and procumbuns juniper in separate containers

Dragon wing begonia and procumbuns juniper in separate containers

I really like this garden.  I like the way it looks and I like the fact that when something doesn’t look right I can move it or easily change it.  When some of the plants become root bound or out of shape I can plant them in the yard and replace them with new ones.  I am planning to renovate my new wife’s back yard and I think that we will use the “Barbie Doll” concept for at least one or two sections. I love the aspect of being able to modify the scope and balance by easily moving or changing a plant here or there.

This is also a wonderful concept for someone who finds instant gratification a bit on the slow side.

 Other articles relating to this topic:

How to start a bonsai

The basics of pruning

 If you would like a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist, in your yard,Please contact me by email

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ponygirl
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 11:08:57

    I like the part about refurbishing his new wife’s back yard!

    Reply

  2. Anita Smith
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 11:11:36

    John,
    We spend the summers in northern Minnesota and the small garden at the cabin has been consumed and clogged with large leaf aster. Even after weeding, the root system has made it impossible for anything to grow. A local landscaper suggested container gardening, smiled and then promptly left me to my own devices. When your latest entry came in this morning, I now feel encouraged to go forth and “contain”. Thank you so much for your timely email.

    Anita Smith

    Reply

    • John Schulz
      Jun 12, 2011 @ 11:15:25

      Thanks for the comment, Anita. I wondered where you’ve been. I hope you are enjoying the birds.

      Reply

  3. John Schulz
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 11:12:32

    That sentence was just for you, Sweet Ponygirl.

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Create a Changeable Garden « Gardora.net
  5. SoundEagle
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 21:09:30

    Reblogged this on Potted Plant Society.

    Reply

  6. Trackback: Foundation planting with containers creates “a changeable garden” | Potted Plant Society

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