It's mid-October, which means all of the gardeners in the Southeastern US are consumed with installing winter annual color! It is actually something of a reunion at the wholesale growers, since this is one of those times when I bump into all of the people I know from the industry, and don't get a chance to see during the summer craziness.
At the Big House, we're bouncing between the large annual color beds and the containers around the property. As Patti says, the creative process of doing the containers balances out the knee-breaking process of installing all of the pansies in the ground. This year, the weather has been absolutely glorious, so it really has been a fun process.....cool crisp mornings, delightful dry sunny afternoons, dodging the squirrels and chipmunks with cheeks loaded down by acorns, pine cones and hickory nuts.
In the wooded area, this is one of my favorite containers, though its size dictates that the planting always be fairly simple. It's only a few years old, but because it is in part shade all the time and regularly gets sprayed with the irrigation sprinklers, it's aging beautifully. For this season, it's just jammed with Pansy "Matrix Sunrise." We pointedly left the Virginia Creeper climbing up the base of the planter, since it has such incredible fall color. This particular pansy also really highlights the blooms of the surrounding Camellia sasanqua. The woodland garden was designed and planted with two hundred camellias in large drifts of the same cultivar, so when they are in bloom, it's pretty spectacular.
Nearby, there is a large drift of white Camellias, where are also in full bloom.
Rhododendrons really struggle in Georgia, because the clay soil is so heavy, the winters don't usually get quite cold enough for them, and the summers are so hot. As a result, their bloom cycles are never predictable. While walking through the garden this morning, this one was blooming in the midst of all the white camellias. Usually they bloom in March here, but I'll take what I can get for a rhododendron bloom in Georgia!
The Japanese Silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis "Cabaret") really is at is showiest now, and the blooms are just incredible against the foliage of the "October Glory" maple. It spreads itself around just a little bit here, but is certainly not something I would consider invasive.
At the pool, we're about a third of the way through the winter planters. This bed above the waterfall has been filled with mondo grass for the past few years, so the current look with the planters and massed pansies is new. I can't wait to see how this fills out as the season goes along.
Here's another view of that same area. The conifer in the containers is Juniper "Iowa," which I think is just great for color and structure. Again we've used the pansy, "Matrix Sunrise," and in the containers have added Dusty Miller, Heuchera "Citronelle" and "Autumn Bride," Autumn Ferns, Rhodea japonica, and ajuga "Caitlin's Giant."
I often get asked how I approach a large number of containers on one property, and how we tie the whole thing together. I'm not sure there is any "correct" way of doing it,but we tend to use the same color family in flowers throughout (or at least throughout one large area). From there, we have calculated the number of complimentary plants needed per bed or container, and use the same selection of five or six plants in large quantity across the property. Rather than treating each container separately, we treat them all as one group, so they all have the same generally "family" of color, texture, etc. More about this later.
For now, get outside and enjoy this incredible autumn weather!