One of the things I do in my own garden to keep it (relatively) low maintenance is to use lots of perennials and shrubs that look after themselves, and ground covers to keep weeds down and moisture in the soil. I don’t plant lots of things that require deadheading or trimming or coddling to look good. This doesn’t mean I’ve forsaken oomph or drama, but it does mean that it doesn’t come in the form of floriferous annual displays, or plants from tropical climates. This is a personal decision because I’ve prioritized easy maintenance (and the ability to choose whether and what I want to spend my gardening energy on) over that kind of display. Your mileage may vary.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have my little pet projects — I love to have dahlias to bring inside the house in late summer and autumn inspired by a dear friend. I think chocolate cosmos are the most lovely in the garden and on my desk. I park some heliotrope strategically near the back door so I can smell it as I come and go. This year I added nicotiana to the list of must-have annuals. (apparently a scent theme is happening!) And I have a handful of large containers I reserve to do whatever I want with each year, starting from scratch each time. This year I did a bunch of “Queen of the Night” tulips in multiple containers, followed by the following combination:
This includes (clockwise from top-left):
- Alternanthera ‘Hoja del Loro’
- Tuberous begonia ‘Golden Picotee’
- Abutilon hybrid ‘Fairy Coral Red’
- Fuchsia ‘Autumnale’
- Heuchera ’Silver Scrolls’
You’ll see there’s still a focus on foliage, because it’s a passion of mine, but there are also plenty of flowers to keep things lively and gorgeous.
Sadly, I didn’t manage to great any great photos of it during its seasonal peak, but you can see it here towards the bottom of the steps on the right:
It looked great, and only improved from when I took the tulips out in June to get it started, right through to early November. It handled the scorching heat with ease & made me smile every time I came and went from the back door.
I made the decision to get rid of all my smallest containers this year due to how much watering they require, so I’ve whittled down my collection to only large pots and only a handful at that for next year. Although I’ll have fewer choices, I am looking forward to the ability to really focus on those, and not get pulled in too many directions.
Don’t get me wrong — I have nothing but admiration for those with large, beautiful container collections — and if you’re looking to be inspired by some of the best, check these Portland folks out:
- Danger Garden (which I was lucky enough to visit personally this year & will blog about while I hibernate this winter)
- JJ De Sousa — via Digging
- Linda Ernst — via Chickadee Gardens
I also find great container inspiration at Portland Nursery — I most often visit the Stark Street location.
If you know of other great Portland-area container gardens or gardeners, please leave a comment below!