Looking beyond the flowers

  • When I first started cooking, I remember having a conversation with my mom about only liking cookbooks with pictures. She said that I’d change my mind about that once I gained enough cooking experience. She explained that once you become familiar with ingredients and methods, you start to visualize recipes coming together. Before you know it, you’ll read “saute onions and garlic in olive oil,” and not only are you seeing the onions and garlic sweating in a hot pan, but you can hear the sizzle, and maybe even imagine the fragrance. Now, I’ll admit- it’s still more fun to look at pictures of food, but I also enjoy being seduced by skilled food writers. I’ve had a similar experience with gardening. Shade gardens used to frustrate me because you can’t grow as many bright and colorful flowers as you can in full sun. It’s taken some time but I now realize how equally eye-catching unique foliage can be. There is something so clean and lush about a garden in the shade. I also appreciate the simplicity of taking care of these plants, which seem to be pretty self-sufficient. I have taken that appreciation further this year and decided to feature less flowers and more foliage in my sun-basking containers.

    I love how container gardens look with flowers overflowing. They are so vibrant and summery. What I don’t love about growing flowers in containers is all the dead-heading, watering, and feeding they require to look their best. There is enough of that to do with the other areas of my yard! Each year, my pots always start out looking great and then they become ragged midway through the summer. This year I decided to mix it up and chose to highlight colorful foliage instead. I like how they turned out and really enjoy the ease of caring for them. Nearly all of my containers outside feature a sweet potato vine. I just love its bright lime green color! They apparently grow very well from cuttings, which I may try at the end of the summer to make a few houseplants. I chose a variety of coleus plants, spikes, caladium, and a few other fun things to pair with the sweet potato vines. Okay, I may have thrown in a couple of flowers too. But like a cookbook with amazing food photography, flowers are hard to resist! Here are some pictures of my containers from this year. I love the color combinations and think they’ll carry me right through the fall!

    I love the way the potato vine contrasts with the caladium and oregano leaves.

    The caladium, or elephant ear, is so lovely with its pink accents. I plan on taking this inside once the weather turns cold.

    I chose a variegated oregano plant, which offers a nice textural contrast. Plus, I have a mild obsession with herbs.

    Coleus come in so many different colors- they are so fun and really stunning next to the potato vine.

    ‘Indian Summer’ coleus paired with yet another potato vine and a red strawflower.

    Here, I chose a fuchsia and a white strawflower to contrast with another Indian Summer coleus.


    July 28th, 2011 | girl has thyme | 4 Comments | Tags: , , ,

4 Responses and Counting...

  • Emily 07.28.2011

    Gorgeous! Love the elephant ear … do you think they’d grow in the NW too? And great cooking / cookbook reference. I totally get it and agree.

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  • My dear friend grew elephant ear in Tacoma. It wasn’t as beautiful as yours, Jenny. That pink accent is just beautiful. All the containers are wonderful. Need you to make me some or help me make some when you move back west

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  • Beautiful containers! Mine are always too uniform without enough variety of plants in a single container. I keep striving for a good combination of plants with an interesting variety of color, texture and shape. I think you nailed it with your containers this year.

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  • So beautiful! Love the cooking anecdote in the beginning as well.

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