1. What is your background and how did you get started container gardening?
2. What is your climate like and what challenges or advantages does it have?
3. Do you have a particular design style or philosophy?
4. What advice do you have for beginning container gardeners?
Know your limits. If you know you will be busy traveling/working/taking care of kids, be willing to start with one or two easy care containers. Develop a small habit of container care and build on that.
Don’t always follow the sun requirements written on the tags of plants. Talk to knowledgeable folks – your local extension agents or garden center personnel- to know how certain plants perform in your zone. And know who your plants’ friends are – plants need to be combined with other plants that require similar soil moisture requirements and sun needs.
5. Do you have any favorite plant combos?
6. Do you use edibles in your container designs?I often use Rosemary Arp in my winter containers and have done window boxes and planters filled with herbs. Tomatoes do great in large containers – remember to add a trellis to support them or try the smaller bush varieties of tomatoes. For beginners, I recommend NOT starting from seed with your container combination – use some of the starter plants found in your local garden centers.
7. What do you think makes a container design work?
8. Are there any plants you don't think work in containers?Peonies. But that is because they don’t like to be moved so if you are going to put them in a container for 20+ years, then you can prove me wrong! And really large trees unless you are working on a Bonsai project and I’m not the one to talk to about that.
9. Of the hundreds of containers you've done, do you have a favorite?
10. Do you have advice on choosing a pot?
- Unless you want a water garden, make sure your container has a hole.
- Look at your home style and make sure you don’t have something like formal iron urns on your log home – match your container style with your home and garden design style.
- The two biggest mistakes I see folks make - buying a container that holds too little soil for sustaining anything beyond succulent plants and buying containers too small for the areas needed.
- Think of buying your container like you would a piece of furniture. A quality container will cost more but could last a lifetime. Cheaper planters are great for those who like to change things out a lot, because that will be what you end up doing.
12. What did you learn from your blogging project, 365 Days of Container Gardening?
I learned that I have enough pictures to do about 10 years of container gardening! And I learned that a daily commitment to write was a huge commitment not only for me but for my family. I took a month off and then started another daily blog only to find that my family was in revolt over my starting another year of every evening sitting down with my computer and writing my post. While I know that there are ways to post-date blogs, I enjoy the daily discipline of writing plus the opportunity to weave daily life/news/events into the post. When my family revolted, I decided to delay my daily devotion of chronicling my container crush. But I’ll be back– just have to get number 4 son into college.
I also was pleasantly surprised by all the people who followed the blog that I never knew about. More than once I had total strangers who would come up to me at talks I was giving, or at church or gardening conventions and say, “I’ve loved following your container blog – you’ve given me so many ideas to use.” That made all those late nights after work, dinner, laundry, visiting with family, then finally writing the post worth all the effort.