Shhhh, don’t say it out loud but I think Summer is actually here,(we’ll know for sure if I immediately start complaining about the heat). Temperatures for the coming weekend in the Seattle area are forecast to be in the mid 80′s… time to drive the convertible, sip icy drinks and stand at the end of a hose.
All my newly-rearranged plants in the garden should do just fine; this long, cold spring has been good for them to establish roots and settle into their new sites. But container plantings suffer when the temperature spikes - nursery stock too, I just can’t shake my old anxieties…uh, thinking. After years of indulging in the whole “tropicalissmo” trend toward lush tropical plantings and committing to regular irrigation I finally rebelled and gave up containers altogether in an effort to salvage a few daylight hours when I wasn’t chained to the hose.
Until last summer. It was such an “ah-ha” moment when I began to see garden pots filled with dense compositions of exquisite succulents and cacti in chic magazines and hip gardens. It’s so obvious! Why didn’t we think of this before?!? These heat tolerant, and oh-so-drought resistant arrangements were every bit as interesting as my cha-cha-cha containers of the past – and nearly maintenance-free! Their rich mineral-d colors – think turquoise, ruby and slate – coupled with strong form and a nearly unreal geometry are endlessly fascinating to me. While their stout dry-land constitutions would allow me to enjoy their impact without constantly chiding myself for neglecting their water needs. Maybe not everyone feels indicted by a wilting plant, but that never-silent (former) nursery owner in me feels it keenly. Kinda like kicking a puppy – you just DON’T DO THAT!
OK, I still have some large containers filled with fragrant, water-sucking plants – how else do you get heady nights filled with the intoxicating perfume of Brugmansia or Angel’s Trumpet?!? After all, in my newly planted-at-home situation I’m around more and able to saunter out any ‘ole time and give them a slurp. But my several sunny decks and cobbled areas of the garden have become peaceful and almost water-free zones where these new tough containers thrive in hot sun with precious little intervention.
This concept translates to mini-scale too! Kudos to my friend Jay who painstakingly composed these little wonders on an exceptionally warm (i.e., slow) day at the nursery. They’re like little jewel boxes of intricacey detail, color and…obsession! This guy has the patience of Job! But these little mini gardens proved to be tough and perfect for tabletops on hot patios. Jay could hardly keep up with our customer’s requests! The secret? The plants are simply tiny cuttings from garden variety succulents, allowed to callus, and then “stuck” into a saucer of well drained potting soil; mist with a spray bottle to water occasionally. Don’t forget your tweezers!!!