Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers Part 1

Yesterday and today I worked on my containers on the back deck. We have a walk-out onto the deck from the kitchen through big sliding doors. It's always been important to us to see colour close up as we eat our meals or while we sit on our loungers, enjoying the last of the wine after dinner.

Years ago in Fine Gardening magazine I remember reading about the rule of thumb for interesting containers: use thrillers, fillers and spillers. In other words
(a) have a focal point - the thriller (usually tall)
(b) fill the container with medium height plants  - the filler
(c) add trailing plants at the edges - the spiller

Last year I saved the peat moss base of 2 hanging baskets along with the hardware - the rounded metal "bowl", the 4 metal chains and the hook. I bought Geraniums and Asparagus fern as the thrillers, Torenia as the filler and pink and white Verbena as well as spillers. I paid a small fortune for the fully planted hanging baskets last year but this year, by making them myself, I saved well over $50! Each!!

Over the years, I have purchased at least 4 Japanese Golden Grass plants (Hakonechloa macra), which the rabbits happily munched until the grasses disappeared. I still love this plant so much that this year,
I decided to dedicate 2 of the pots to Golden Grass alone.

The other pots have grasses or Potato Vine as the Thrillers,  a gorgeous dark new Picotee petunia called 'Pinstripe', Geraniums and Browallia as fillers and Wave Petunias, trailing Lobelia and Lysimachia nummularia (dug out from a far corner of the garden) as the spillers.

This is Pinstripe:

Some of the smaller pots have just sedum in them which I overwintered from last year. Sedum is very drought tolerant and sometimes those small pots dry out as fast as the hanging baskets.

I'm as messy a gardener as I am a cook so the deck was covered with dirt, empty pots, empty bags of soil, etc. I wonder why I didn't include a picture of the deck before I cleaned it up???

(we still need to take the Christmas lights off the pergola posts - ooops!)

I'm quite pleased with the containers this year. They are colour coordinated, they have plants in them that are new to me and I will make sure they are thoroughly watered if the summer is as hot and dry as they predict.

Tomorrow I hope to do the front yard urns.


debsgarden said...

I'm glad to see I am not the only one who hasn't managed to put away all the Christmas decorations yet! Your colorful pots will make sitting on your deck a joy. (The wine will no doubt also add to the experience!)

Nadezda said...

Astrid, I have no the moss baskets but I think they look lovely in your garden. I will buy them too, I liked.

Astrid said...

Hi Deb
Those Christmas lights were cute in winter when it got dark at 5 pm but now they don't seem to fit with the summer flowers! We do love going out for a quiet sit after dinner - as my husband says: "You can't do this in February!!"

Hi Nadezda
Glad you enjoyed the hanging baskets. Hope you can find something similar in your area. Happy gardening!


Jennifer said...

Astrid, that is a cute little saying and it makes it easy not to overlook one of the three basic components of a great container planting. My main problem with the store-bought stuff is not the cost, but rather the fact that they just don't hold up through the summer! You buy them at their peak and it is all downhill from there. Your containers look to be off to a nice start.

Astrid said...

Hi Jennifer
It's true - some plants do not stay pretty all summer in containers. Sometimes if I'm feeling brave, I will give them a "haircut" end of July and then fertilize for a few weeks and they grow back nicely. Just takes awhile.
Am going to post Containers Part 2 in a minute because I finished my front urns.