Aqua blue pots are the “peace” of resistance

Aqua blue pots in the landscape and staggered on the side of a hill weren’t my idea, but my bride’s, the person who appears on my phone as Jan ‘My Love’ Winter. I’ve avoided this color like the plague for most of my life. To modify the French expression, this project was going to be my “peace” of resistance. Jan is a gifted and natural plant groomer when it comes to our mixed containers, so making peace is the goal.

The containers have two sections, a lower reservoir for gravel and the upper level for good light potting soil, which I consider to be the critical element for all containers and baskets. I also had to drill drainage holes in the top compartment and in the bottom.

Since the containers had to be staggered on a slope, I decided to wait until they were planted to level not only with each other but with all angles of the landscape. For this I used wooden shims like you would for furniture in an old house.

Since the pots are so colorful, I wanted a healthy dose of complementary colors. I chose Pyromania Orange Blaze kniphofia or red hot pokers for suspense plants and Superbells Coral Sun calibrachoas for a little echo support. I also used Superbells Grape Punch Calibrachoa and Illusion Emerald Lace Ornamental Sweet Potato to contrast and create a blend of contrasting colors.

The colorful pots positioned in the landscape also required a little thought about the color planted in the ground. I wanted there to be a connection, so I chose several Pyromania Kniphofia called Back Draft to create a visual echo between the three pots. Back Draft is a bit taller, but both strains had a nice grassy texture when not in bloom.

Pyromania Kniphofias are recommended for most zones 5b to 9b. As you flower, you will see new flower stalks develop. Even when not in bloom, Pyromania Orange Blaze looks majestic in my mixed containers.

Kniphofias are also called torch lilies or hot red pokers and their DNA can be traced back to Africa. The Pyromania series are Kniphofia hybrids reaching 30 to 48 inches in height with a 30 inch spread. As its name suggests, the torch lily is a member of the Liliaceae family and looks like a grass except when it blooms, revealing some of the most beautiful blooms on the planet. These stunning flowers attract an assortment of pollinators, including hummingbirds.

Last October, I tweaked the containers by adding Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunias and Superbena Whiteout Verbena. Amazingly, the Superbells Grape Punch calibrachoas planted in the spring of 2021 survived and are now touching the ground after falling over the edge of the 36-inch-tall containers. Supertunia Vista Bubblegum planted in October survived the cold winter and are huge. There will be grooming challenges for Ms. Jan, but so far everything is great.

When Jan mentioned containers on the hillside, I was thinking Old World style clay olive jars. I must admit that the aqua blue selections of Jan My Love Winter, which challenged me to the max, were not only the “peace” of resistance but in fact, as the French proclaim, the pieces of resistance. I don’t aspire or claim to be a backyard marriage counselor, but giving in once in a while can be a beautiful thing.

Norman Winter is a horticulturist, gardening lecturer, and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy. Distributed by content agency Tribune.

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