Plastic pot was seed for garden designer
GARDEN DESIGNER Crystal Godrey got her start with one plastic pot.
“When I first moved out on my own I had very little money to spend and no existing gardens on the property,” says Godfrey, who operates Secret Gardens by Crystal in Hubbards. “I didn’t know a lot about gardening but I did know I enjoyed being surrounded by colour and watching my mother’s plants grow as the season progressed.
“I also had a love of nature and a creative streak,” she says. “One plastic pot and $15 later, I had a lovely little basket outside my window that I shared with the hummingbirds. I was hooked.”
Having worked for a large private garden and then for a local garden centre for a number of years, Godfrey now has plenty of experience to offer customers when she designs and installs gardens of all sizes.
She incorporates containers in most of her garden room designs, which provides customers with colour and greenery on their decks or wherever else they might relax on their properties.
Godfrey uses plants that reflect her customers’ personalities and personal tastes.
“It’s a living statement,” she says. “A container garden says, ‘Here I am, this is me, welcome to my home.’”
A container garden is a lot smaller than a garden in your yard and a bold statement can be made without using a large amount of plants or soil, Godfrey says.
As well, portable gardens can change with the seasons simply by adjusting the plant material and decorative accents used in a planting.
You can use anything for a planter, providing it has drainage holes for excess water or is large enough that you can set a slightly smaller container that does have drainage holes into the larger, more ornate planter.
What should gardeners use for potting mixture in their containers?
Recipes can vary according to what you are planting. Some plants require better drainage so have more sand, perlite and vermiculate in their soil mixtures. Godfrey tends to use premixed soils designed for container growing, but amends it with vermiculite to assist with drainage and adds seaweed meal to boost nutritional value and aid with moisture retention.
The real secret to success with container plantings, no matter what you use for a container, soil or plants, is to water correctly. Godfrey waters less often but more thoroughly, and waters the soil, not the leaves of her plants.
She fertilizes on a regular basis with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Seaboost and faithfully removes spent flowers from her plants.
“The biggest pointer I can give is to pinch back the length of the plant all over,” she says. “This simply means cutting back each stem to a spot right above where a leaf joins on the main stem.
“Do this every week or two to your annuals, especially petunias and million bells, and they will be huge and full well through September while your neighbour’s will be long and scraggly. They will think you’re a gardening genius!”
When creating container gardens, don’t be afraid to include perennials among your plant selections, especially those with great looking foliage. Godfrey is a fan of heucheras (coral bells), their relative heucherellas (foamy bells) and hostas, all of which give a great added investment to your gardens come autumn when you can plant these perennials out into your beds.
For annuals, Godfrey is fond of the trailing varieties of petunias and million bells, but also loves verbenas, geraniums, gazania and osteospermums. The latter two are African daisy species.
The shade recommendations are standard favourites including impatiens, fuchsias and begonias, especially the Rex begonias with their gorgeous foliage.
Don’t be afraid to mix up your combinations of flower colours with intriguing foliage. If something doesn’t work for you, take it out of the container in favour of something else.
On a personal note, thank you to everyone who came out to my open garden last weekend. While numbers and donations were down from last year, every bit is a help to the Capt. Steele Endowment at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.
For those keen on garden and flower shows, there will be a number of them around Nova Scotia over the coming weeks. Please check the events listings at bloominganswers.com. And if you have an event you want listed, contact me through the website or via email@example.com.
Plant geek Jodi DeLong is still collecting new specimens to add to her gardens and her container plantings. And still battling goutweed.