The joys of container gardening – DIY tips and tricks of the trade

Many gardening enthusiasts may not have big yards, but they’re still keen to play in the dirt! Happily, flexing one’s green thumb is not out of reach for anyone!

Small spaces like balconies, decks, and windowsills are itching for a pretty pot of flowers.

Great gardening pleasures can be had by any gardener, even in the smallest spaces. As a former apartment dweller, I can say for the record that anyone who is keen to grow something, can have their own little piece of paradise, too.

Choice of container and design is limited only by the imagination, and of course the amount one is willing to shell out for it!

Containers range in size, shape, and substance. Clay pots, wooden barrels, wire wall/hanging baskets, and plastic urns, are just some examples. However, with limited space, one might want to keep in mind that some containers need to be stored in a sheltered site over the winter, especially clay pots which may crack in really cold climates like mine.

Not unlike a ‘conventional’ garden plot, container plantings require suitable preparation.

Space, light, soil, water access, plant food, and of course weather, should all be taken into account. By seeking suitable plant material for these conditions, one can ensure a bountiful show, so all that effort and investment going into those planters doesn’t go to waste.

Restricted root space may add constraints to plant preferences, too. Over the course of a growing season some varieties (like asparagus fern) are more prolific with their root multiplication than others.

Good drainage is key for successful container gardening. Nobody wants soggy plant roots that inevitably drown. Nothing kills a plant like kindness! (Take it from me, I know, lol.) This is easily avoided by making sure the container has holes in the bottom. With the addition of broken clay pot shards, pebbles, or even Styrofoam chips lining the bottom of the pot, excess water has somewhere else to go.

Along with begonias, geraniums, herbs, or flowing foliage plant bulbs, seeds, and yes, even veggies will thrive in a container!

Just think of the fabulous fresh basil, (plus other herbs), and even cherry tomatoes, all of which can be grown in a very small space. In fact, one year I grew a container full of ornamental corn!

Succulents are perfect for patios, and for on the wall, too! Most of all they’re drought tolerant and as a vertical garden, take up no floor or table space at all.

I like to use unusual containers, for example a bunt pan, which can go on the patio table with the big umbrella right through the hole in the middle. It’s a great way to save space! These can be picked up cheap at most second hand stores! Violets in spring would look nice in them, too.

Tropical plants love the heat and humidity. All of my houseplants go outside for the summer, with the added benefit of making my house seem a lot more spacious during the growing season! Some don’t like too much sun, and there is a downside… when I bring them back in, once again I have to determine who gets the best sunny spots for the winter, (as there’s only so much window space), make sure there are no pests clinging about, (yuck), and our house seems once again, a little less spacious! But that’s okay!

In the past, I’ve layered the two big whiskey barrel containers, (since replaced with cement pots) from our porch with flowering bulbs. Simply plant them beneath the roots of any other plants that are dug in for the rest of the growing season. Tulips, daffodils, or crocus will shoot up and offer a lovely, early spring display! I let bulb foliage die back naturally. Other plants growing around them cover that up, and the bulbs can be planted in the ground, if you have a space, for the next year. It’s a great way to offer seasonal interest!

It’s also fun to experiment with different plant combinations, colours, textures, and foliage every year. Or not, because if you find a planting package that works for you, by all means, go for it!

Do keep in mind that many tender plants may not over-winter in containers, which are exposed to really cold temperatures that gets at their roots, unlike perennials that are insulated from frost by growing directly in the ground.

Unfortunately, most annuals aren’t hardy enough to get through a Haliburton Highlands winter. (However, I’ve had good luck overwintering parsley and kale in our raised beds). But, most annual plants grown in containers are cultivated for one season only and composted.

Geraniums might be the exception to this for me. I do over-winter a few of my favourites by bringing them in the house. Out they go again in late spring once any chance of frost damage is long gone.

In any case, there’s something to be said about gardening in containers!

Imagine a beautiful show without the aggravation of maintaining a big lawn or weeding flowerbeds!

Personally, I’m quite happy to mow a bit of lawn, and weed the garden too, which I find relaxing, though the size of our lawn shrinks every year because my garden keeps expanding, lol, (funny how that happens!) but in this, I may be an exception to the rule.

Happy Gardening!

 

Handy hints for starting seeds – An easy DIY for any gardener

Starting seeds - clothes pin label at wall flower studioWhen you’re in a pinch, pardon the pun, and need some quick, inexpensive, yet effective labels for starting those seedlings, I’ve found clothes pins to be the way to go.  Simply write the variety of seed in the container on the clothes pin and clip it on the pot.

When the time comes to plant your seedlings in the garden, the clothespin can be switched to a bamboo stake and stuck in the ground.  Of course, they can be decorated too, and you’ll find a plethora of ideas on Pinterest, but to be honest, other than Martha Stewart, who actually has time for that?!

newspaper pots at wall flower studioAlso, I like to make my own newspaper pot containers to start my seeds in. Not only am I recycling, but the whole enchilada can be planted in the ground, when the time comes, which means those tender roots won’t be disturbed. Many plants do not appreciate being repotted or replanted.

Since the newspaper will break down in the garden, there’s not muss and no fuss. My kind of gardening.

Happy planting!

 

2016 – A new year, a new look! Both in the store and online

Wall Flower Studio - renovating and January re-opening date

Happy to share that we now have brand new shelving and better lighting for the store! We’re working behind the scenes to employ all the space we can in our wee shop, and do look forward to re-opening on Fri. Jan 22. – Do drop in and have a look! If you have been in before, I hope you like the changes. If you haven’t been in yet, well then I ask, why not???  😉 But seriously, there are many surprises up my sleeve, yet to share over the years to come. 🙂

FYI: Wall Flower Studio’s winter hours, (from reopening until the end of March 2016) will be:  Thursday, Friday and Saturday / 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

– Not only will we have an updated look in the shop, but online, too! Though I’m very happy to continue offering our products on Etsy, one goal of mine has always been to have a proper website. I’ll still be blogging here, however the goal has been achieved, so for a sneak peek, visit Wall Flower Studio’s new website: HERE

(FYI -It’s not quite complete, but I’m working hard behind the scenes taking photographs, writing product descriptions, getting products listed, events slated and much more. Launch is set for early February 2016.)

Starting Jan. 22, Wall Flower Studio is the new ‎Minden‬ pick-up location for the ‪Bread‬ & ‪Bagel‬ club. We’re thrilled! For more info, please visit Into the Blue Bakery’s website: HERE

Last but not least, I’m happy to share that we’re now offering a monthly ‪‎newsletter‬! Subscribe for ‪workshops‬, new product launches, & forthcoming events in the ‪#‎shop:‬ HERE

Right now I’m home, busily packaging all kinds of garden seeds, making soap, bitters, fairy furniture, you name it, but am admittedly missing the shop and all the lovely folk who visit, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish my friends and customers all the best for 2016.

Thank you for your kindness, inspiration, and for shopping locally. ~ Karen

fairy furniture at Wall Flower Studio Garden - copyright Karen Sloan

Succulents and moss – Perfect for any container!

Conch shell with succulents and Irish moss

Seashell with succulents and moss

Succulents and moss just seem to go together like peas & carrots! It’s just as fun finding unusual containers as it is to plant them up!

Succulents in Wire teapot at Wall Flower Studio

Wire teapot with moss & succulents

Thanks for stopping in! Have a great weekend.