Monthly Archives: April 2017

Addicted Blue Pot Plastics

We each have our own secret addictions. This is my confession: I am addicted to blue pots. Plastic, clay, terra cotta, stoneware, even the styrofoam ones look pretty good to me.

When you look at the picture on the right, you might see any one of a number of things. You might see that the garden hose has been carelessly left in the picture, and that the pot needs to be washed off and you would be right. You might notice that those impatiens really aren’t happy in that much sun, and you’d be right again. You might be able to tell that the picture was taken at a funny angle – right again. You might even think the impatiens should be healthier and flowering more. When I look at that picture, I only see one thing, my beautiful old blue pot.

I used to do ceramics as a teenager, and the one pot I was always trying to throw was a pot for plants. The one glaze I was trying to mix was the perfect blue glaze. I never did manage to throw the perfect pot for plants, drainage hole, matching saucer and all. (I think my dream pot was a little bigger than my talent.) Nor did I ever find the right recipe for any one of my favorite colors of blue. But I started collecting pots.

Now I’m older, much older. I know that good pots are expensive. Every once in a blue moon, I’ll splurge and buy a new blue pot.

Some years it will be a heavy, stoneware pot like this one, to the left, which has weathered many New England winters without complaint. Last year I went crazy and bought a whole bunch of beautiful bluepots at a local craft supply store. Although the pots were very pretty, they were notweatherproof. Some even had blue stripes, which I liked, although not everybody was fond of them. The seams between the stripes were the first things to go when it froze.

I even painted some pots blue. First I tried spray painting some plastic pots blue. But I did it quick and dirty, not carefully, the way Melodyrecommends in this article about refurbishing old pots. As you can see, that didn’t work very well.

But then I swiped some blue latex paint on a plain clean terra cotta pot with a sponge. I liked the way that came out, and since there’s a tender plant in it, it comes in for the winter anyway. Someday soon, I’ll paint its sibling, the bigger matching plain terracotta pot.

Once I got to thinking about bluepots, I started thinking about the some of the blue pots my friend has.These lucky pots are never subjected to freezes and thaws, because they’re in California.

I like to think that having so many bluepots gives my container plants a unified look, but maybe not. There are still a lot of motley other containers mixed in, mostly because people give them to me. I know I shouldn’t admit this here, on Dave’s Garden, but some days the plants are just there to fill up the pots. Of course that doesn’t explain all the plastic pots overflowing with plants; there it’s the other way around. As long as they are blue plastic, of course!


Garden Art

Do you have more plants or more garden art? We have all been by the house that makes you stop to take the photo. There is so much of “this and that” that the whole yard looks more like a junk yard than an expression of art. So when do you know you have too many? Key number one is, when the plants still outnumber the art, you are in the okay zone. Once you have to start counting the number of iris fans in the bed to see if there are more plants or art, or if you start counting the grass blades, then you have too much garden art.

When you can no longer mow the yard.

If you can no longer mow your yard with a mower but must mow the whole yard with a weed eater – not for its size but rather for the number of gnomes or flamingos in the yard, you have a problem. If you keep the bulk of your garden art in the flower beds, you are most likely okay. If you still have more plants than art, see above. The real key here is to leave at least a few good sized areas for grass to grow without anything else. This helps you and it keeps the local neighbors from giving you the stare.

When you remodel and use the new found pots.

When you start to remodel, or are just driving by and you pick up what others have thrown away and make them into a pot, or pond. This might be a stove, fridge, sink, toilet, heater, scrap lumber, or bathtub. Over all, what matters here is not the object but rather the way it is put to use. The more of these in your art collection the more dire the situation. When you are out and about, you will find these things and you will want to take them home and plant in them. You might even have a burning passion to build a whole little kitchen or bathroom (with plantings in everything) in the garden. Just be careful to keep them in good taste and not let them outnumber the plants in the garden.

People stop–thinking it is a weekly yard sale.

If, week in and week out, people are at your door asking if you are having a yard sale, you have too much garden art. Likewise, if you are in the area and people stop, thinking you have a yard art store, you have way too much garden art. The real key here is to have it arranged in such a way that it doesn’t look like you must be having a yard sale. If this is an issue for you, then you might want to add a sign to your yard stating that the figures are not for sale.

You have a storage unit.

If you have a storage unit just for your out-of-season garden art, then you just might have too much! If you take things in and out of said storage unit each and every month, you know you have crossed the line with your garden art. The more time you have to spend taking in and out the season’s worth of art, the more time you are taking from the garden and that, my friends, is a sad thing indeed.

Only you can say when you have too much garden art. No one but you can know for sure. Family and friends look at most gardeners with their garden art and always tend to say there is too much if there is anything at all. So take all the above with a small grain of salt. If it makes you happy – Carpe Diem!

Ten Places to Add a House Plant

Looking around, a lot of us are lacking space for more plants inside the house and out! So what do you do when you have to start looking for new and unique places to place those new house plants? Here is a short top ten list!

  1. On the top of the cupboards. OK, so light might be hard to get up there and the space is limited. You need a step stool just to water. But really this is a great place to grow things. Right? You can add lights and water trays and you might have a wonderful new place for a few more plants to live.
  2. On the kitchen table. Do you really ever eat at the big kitchen table? Do you really have to eat there? You have room on top of and beneath it. All the chairs could be used for plant stands too! Just a great space to open up and use. What, you have to use the table? OK, why not make your plants the centerpiece!
  3. Bathroom. Add some grow lights and hooks or shelves and you have a great place for small growing, tropical plants. Want to get really into the fun? Try them in the shower too! They can really add that tropical feel to the whole event and make for a jungle in there.
  4. TV stand. Who has the time for TV? After all, if you are here on Dave’s what more do you need? So push the old TV out the door and have some fun watching the begonias grow! What is better than your very own tropical floor show! Add some pet tree frogs and there you have it a show that never stops and never sleeps.
  5. Guest room. Kids moving out? Spare room you try to leave for guests? Why not make this a plant space! Really, this is the way to go and, unlike leaving a bed there, the kids don’t want to move back in after they leave if their space is full of plants.
  6. Work out space. Let’s face the truth. If we garden, we don’t need to work out. So get rid of that wasted space and put some plants there. Spend the extra thirty minutes or so each day in the garden getting house plant pots ready and you have that work out done!
  7. In the sink! What do you really need the other half of the sink for? There are so many plants that could fill that space so much better than some old dishes. Just do your dishes in steps and there you go – half a sink for dishes.
  8. Window sills. Have you filled them all? Double check and find that empty spot in the middle of one somewhere. Go ahead – you know there is a little spot in one of the windows. What about adding shelves to the windows a little farther up, too? Might not hold big plants, but just a few more is all you really need.
  9. Hallways. Why waste all that hallway space? Put shelves up on one side, add some grow lights, and there you go! A whole other place for the plants you love to grow. This is the perfect spot for some of those dry soil loving plants since watering is going to be an issue here.
  10. Where you park the car. Garage, street or drive – that is space you can use! Add grow lights to the garage or throw up a portable greenhouse in the street or drive. Who knows, maybe even a plant or two in the cart also? You can always park a little farther away for the added plant room.

So there you go. Just when you thought you did not have any more room for plants, we have come up with more places you can use for plants.

I wonder if you can grow plumeria there

Every visit to sunny Florida resulted in yet another patch of grass removed and a few more plumeria sticks planted. I met people online who lived in the area, actually met some of them in person! Sticks were exchanged, varieties and their relative merits discussed, photos taken to compare. A great day was when you found a friendly person who would trade you a stick, the best day was when you found a beautiful blooming tree and the owner was willing (always!) to give you a piece.

When I was in England, I would dream of my garden in Florida. A fellow-addict would stop by and take pictures so I could watch them grow, and fertilize, so I would have blooms when I arrived, with more or less success. Having yearned for ages to see the wonderful variety known as ‘Mardi Gras’ bloom we had to return back to England when the inflorescence was about to show its first blooms. I was heartbroken!! We found ourselves spending more and more time in Florida, and after a few years we simply couldn’t stand it anymore and made a bold move: Southwest Florida, full-time!!

Sure there were other attributes to the Florida experience that we enjoyed. But for me – the ability to grow plumeria, in the ground, year round, was the biggest draw. No sooner had we moved here than I set about converting my suburban third of an acre into a tropical paradise. Grass was mercilessly removed until nothing but a token strip remained. Plants were sought and rejected on their ability to get along with plumeria.

By this time I had become active in several plumeria forums and made a number of friends. I had plumeria T-shirts, a plumeria pen, plumeria notebooks, a plumeria calendar. You get the idea! I have even had the great honor of having a plumeria named after me by a commercial grower.

And then the 2006 International Plumeria Conference in Galveston was announced and how could I possibly NOT go? All the ‘gurus’ were going to be there, and many plumeria aficionados I had talked with online for years would become real live people! I was not disappointed and I can safely say that my life changed that week. Growing Plumeria had now completely become my life’s focus!