The Art of Potscaping

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Instead of being limited by your climate, potscaping allows you to escape the seasonal tyranny of gardening. For example, you may regret that you can’t cultivate banana, bird of paradise or Ficus plants outdoors. You love the lush look, but know you’ll destroy your exotic plants in one chill breeze. You can put anything in the pot during the summer and bring it in during the winter. Perhaps the miniature conifer doesn’t look good next to the patio. There’s no need to dig it up, if you’re potscaping. Just put the pot on wheels and move it to a better location. Instead of only relying on planting for colour turn to pots for colour. Right now high-gloss pots imported from Vietnam are very popular. Clay or terra cotta pots are classic but dry out quickly so the plants must be watered daily. Soak the pots for a couple of hours before planting. Plastic pots offer better water retention and have many new looks. Styrofoam containers are lightweight and come in many faux finishes. Concrete and wrought iron are the most expensive and hardest to move. Whatever the pot, colour is the rage from cobalt blue and azure blue to Moroccan red, turning your garden into a riot of colour. What is fun about year-round colour is that it adds a unique dimension to your garden for the times when the blooms are gone. Although you can invest hundreds of dollars in imported pots and exotic plants, you can find beautiful arrangements on any budget. In fact, some gardeners prefer it for price savings and, if you’ve got an ugly tree stump or bald patch on the lawn that would be expensive to remedy, you can cover the eyesore with a grouping of pots.

But, as advantageous as potscaping can be, there’s more to it than rolling pots into the yard. Too much clutter and you’ll look as if you’re living in a garden centre. Here are some tips from garden designers.

Use pots to set the tone

When you want a formal look, such as an entryway to a home, you want balance. Use the same size and the same number of pots on either side (of the entry way). Arrange two pots each with the same plants, on either side of the entrance of the front porch.

For the backyard, which is casual, try clustering of pots in different sizes and textures, but all coloured either bright yellow or turquoise. Get as many pots as you can in the garden and pack them full of flowers. You’ll get a step look when the flowers and pots are different sizes. Another recommendation is to put larger pots in the background and smaller pots with smaller plantings in the front. Bring pots into areas where there’s a lot of hard scape (such as patios or pathways). If you have a patio you can soften the area by bringing in greenery. Don’t mix a lot of pot styles, such as contemporary, Asian and Mediterranean. Give the pots a little forethought.

Match the plants to the pots

Get a piece of pottery that will highlight the plant. That’s a huge key people are missing. Try using blue pots to bring out the intensity of orange or yellow flowers or deep purple with white flowers. Also try to play with monotones such as huge yellow pots packed with yellow daisies. The splash of yellow can be spectacular. Add rosemary or a trailing thyme plant to a Mediterranean designed pot, a tropical plant to a hot pink Caribbean pot or a topiary to a Chinese jade green pot. Remember your potscape doesn’t have to be permanent to be pleasurable. You can splurge on single-season plants, experiment with new colours and shapes and start fresh next year.

Gardening potscape tip: Before you go to the nursery to buy your plants get out all your pots and count them so you can approximate the number of plants to purchase. Decide on a colour scheme in advance. Rule of thumb: larger pots get seven or more plants, smaller ones five. Each pot should have two to three feature plants, as well as trailing plants to fill in the spaces. Finally, are those pots too heavy to move? Try putting them on wheels such as sitting them on a small platform with wheels. That way if you don’t like where you place the pot or you want to move them closer if you are entertaining, it will be less back breaking and you won’t go to pot……. .