Container Combos for 2014

Container with Zinnia, Bronze fennel & caterpillar in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Container with Zinnia, Bronze fennel & caterpillar (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The end of May is a welcome time for gardeners; summer is only weeks away and more importantly, Jack Frost has been banished from the landscape until fall. Now that the threat of his icy grip has finally vanished, it’s time to bring out our containers and start planting some bold and exciting annuals to welcome the warmer months to come. And this year there are more delicious choices than ever; from the brilliant foliage of coleus to the dazzling array of annual blossoms boasting an incredible range of colors. If (like me) you already potted up some herbs for frost safe/early spring containers, you’ll find lots of annuals to liven things up even more!

Umbrella sedge, Tricolor sage & Thai basil in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Umbrella sedge, Tricolor sage & Thai basil (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Speaking of repurposing your herbs, the bronze fennel and thyme I planted in March has filled out beautifully, I simply exchanged the pansies for a clump of vibrant, hot pink zinnias and WOW-it looks fabulous. However, if you didn’t plant any herbs this spring, you still have time to mix in a few with your annual combinations. I’m experimenting with Basil ‘Blue Spice’ (my chickens already approve), Thai Basil and Salvia elegens ‘Golden Delicious’ (with pineapple scented foliage), which produces stop-sign red flowers sure to lure all the nearby hummingbirds. Herbs not only add an edible element to your pot, they also provide texture and  fragrance (and fennel or dill will also invite swallowtail caterpillars).

Kong coleus with Butterfly & Bacopa in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Kong coleus with Butterfly & Bacopa (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

If you have a bit of shade but want a good dose of pizzazz, look no further than versatile coleus. Specifically the Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Kong Series’ (or as I like to call them, King Kong coleus), with enormous, incredibly flashy leaves drenched in fuchsia, sunshine yellow, merlot, lime green, even specs of white. In other words, Kong coleus will work with anything you throw at it. I added some cheerful yellow daisies, Argyranthemum ‘Butterfly’ (the blond bombshell, Fay Wray) and delicate white trailer, Bacopa cordata ‘Snowtopia White’, honestly the options with this gentle giant are limitless . . . as long as you understand that there are no subtle pairings when Kong is on the scene.

Impatiens 'Dark Salmon Glow' with coleus & fuchsia in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Impatiens ‘Dark Salmon Glow’ with coleus & fuchsia (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Another dynamo for shade are impatiens, and you’ll be relieved to know that the ban is off of some of these much loved plants. Although the common impatiens, Impatiens walleriana, are still at risk of the dreaded Downy Mildew disease, the new and improved New Guinea and Sun-patiens selections are to die for (pardon the pun). There is nothing dull or demure about the fiery red (Impatiens hawkeri ‘Blushing Crimson’) and sunset orange (Impatiens hawkeri ‘Orange Frost’) introductions, but they also come in more subdued, equally stunning shades of creamy coral (Impatiens hawkeri ‘Dark Salmon Glow’) and snowy white (Impatiens hawkeri ‘Infinity White’) as well.

Impatiens 'Blushing Crimson' with 'Blazin Rose' Iresine in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Impatiens ‘Blushing Crimson’ with ‘Blazin Rose’ Iresine (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I paired the Blushing Crimson with a Iresine hybrida ‘Blazin’ Rose’ (a gorgeous foliage alternative to coleus), and if I do say so myself, it’s lovely! These options perform best in part sun (morning to early pm), so avoid the hot afternoon rays with these beauties.

Zinnia 'Zowie' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Zinnia ‘Zowie’ in A Garden For All (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Now, for the crème de la crème of sun worshippers, I offer you radiant zinnias, such as the outrageous pink ‘Uproar Rose’, with blooms that are inches across, or ‘Zowie’, with a center of blazing scarlet surrounded with canary yellow. Pair those with the scintillating Verbena hybrida ‘Enduro Hot Pink’, and I’ll let your imagination do the rest.

Lantana 'Tiddley Winks Red' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Lantana ‘Tiddley Winks Red’ (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Back from last year’s list is one of my all time favorite summer sizzlers, the blood orange Lantana hybrida ‘Tiddley Winks Red’, which not only stops traffic, but also lures butterflies and hummingbirds with its bright color and sweet scent. Prefer gold? Try the cousin Lantana hybrida ‘Tiddley Winks Yellow’, which is a mini solar system right in your backyard container.  Whatever you’re itchin’ for is available in abundance at your local nursery. Stop by soon and see what gets your juices flowing~

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