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Potted Desert Garden

10 Mar 2015
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Our theme this month is watching our garden pots change through the seasons. Planting with annuals allows us to creatively plan combinations each new season. In other words, we should never get bored with our potted gardens. Each attempt, however well-thought-out, may even surprise us as the garden grows. With perennial and annual combinations, we have the constant of a maturing long-lasting plant, along with the pop and color of annuals. In this first picture above, we can see a boring tree trunk which marks the walkway to a main entrance of an office. These next three photos show unique winter combinations with varying color themes. Notice how each one creates a different mood or attitude. Think how differently you might react to these plantings as you approach the potted collection. One offers bold, vibrant primary colors. Another shows off soft, pink hues which can bring calm. The third returns…
03 Mar 2015
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Would you believe something as simple as three pots can make a remarkable story in your desert garden—a story that you can change on a whim? Pictured first, above, is a blank slate—a common, boring fence in a desert backyard. It borders a grassy area adjacent to a rocky space. It’s crying for the “right something” to be added. Enter—a collection of three pots, with two kids perpetually playing (below). This combination quickly became a fun garden “play area”! This winter combination includes complementary colors of yellow, blue and burgundy, simply planted with pansies and two varieties of lobelia. Next we come to summer—desert style! The trees on the east side of the pots have leafed out and provide some intermittent shade to the pots. The vinca, salvia, chartreuse and sweet-potato vine are all sun-loving plants, but anything will do better with some respite from the intense summer sun. Notice…
24 Feb 2015
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Picture this: A back patio with several unsightly posts. We know we need to add something to make the post go away in our mind’s eye. I cannot tell you how many homes I have gone to where a homeowner has tried to deal with this very problem, and failed—often by choosing pots that are too small for the height of the post and the size of the area. Draw a line from your back window viewpoint to the post, and then to the view beyond. The line will rise to the back wall, distant landscape or even a mountain view. The line does not go down to the base of the post—and that is where those 12-inch pots sit in the example to the right. We all understand how we came to use those small pots: They were easiest to carry from the store. They were not expensive, or…
17 Feb 2015
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Enter the open courtyard of this desert home, and you’ll be enticed by the collection of extra large pots that break up the long line of the front façade. The home also has a long raised bed that increases curb appeal—but without the pots, people would still come up to a ho-hum front door. By adding five pots instead of foundation plants, the homeowner here limited water use—and was able to have a lot more fun with plantings. The 28-inch Chinese red glazed egg pots originally held pistache trees, for height and plentiful annuals that offer popping color. However, we quickly found that the trees were not the best choice for pots: With constant water and fertilizer, they grew so fast that the soil bases were not large enough to support the trees. They were quickly taken out (after two large storms threatened them and their pots) and replaced with…
10 Feb 2015
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Mototony is no fun! Therefore, lose the monotony of a boring home entryway with some personal touches—and, of course, some lovely potted plants. We all want our homes to be unique. Well, many desert community homes have similar layouts and landscapes. So, shout-out a welcome to your guests—and keep that welcome fresh as you change it with the seasons. Shown here are before (above) and after (below) pictures of the front of one desert home. This area is challenged by full sun, rabbits and other creatures; the plants chosen for these three pots show how you can create living beauty that is critter-resistant and water-thrifty. The plantings here include purple summer snaps, orange coreopsis, purple verbena and brocade artemisia. What a difference several pots can make! Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the desert’s potted garden…