gardens without borders

This corner of my small, jam-packed garden is where it gets crazy. Okay, okay. Crazier.

This east end of the garden kind of horseshoes around this collection of containers, with the main sitting area (and more containers) off to the left.

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At first glance, I realize the takeaway is That’s a lot of containers. The polite version anyway.

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Agave x leopoldii and Agave ‘Tradewinds’ among the pots stacked on the concrete core samples.

And that’s no lie. Everyone knows that potted plants have a lot in common with rabbits, right? Same proliferation capabilities.

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But there’s even more containers here than meets the eye. Here on the east fence, this little bricked area was once a much bigger seating area, covered by a pergola for shade. Catastrophe struck when a eucalyptus fell on the pergola (which saved the house), and I’ve since nibbled away at the bricks to plant the cypresses for privacy. A little creative destruction, with catastrophe viewed as opportunity. Now it’s just a small bricked postage stamp perfect for staging pots.

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Planted behind the postage stamp in the ground are the cypresses, of course, and the grasses, Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket.’ I much prefer how this grass grows here, constrained by the cypresses. The expanding clumps in the main garden will need to be split this winter.

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To get our bearings, the furcraea is in the ground in the arm of the horseshoe that separates the postage stamp from the main sitting area near the house.

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Everything else, including the Salvia ‘Waverly’ and Leycesteria formosa, are in containers hidden behind the staging for the succulents. I can’t keep this moderately thirsty and very large salvia in the garden anymore, so I’m treating it like a summer annual for a container. And I’ve learned that the finicky leycesteria needs perfect sun/shade, so a container makes sense for it too. I thought they’d both look great in fall against the grasses in bloom. The staging hides their large, black plastic nursery containers. The leycesteria (aka Pheasant Berry aka Himalayan Honeysuckle) should have blooms, but mine is still all leaves at this point, which I don’t mind at all.

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The soil in this narrow strip against the fence is filled with cypress roots now, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over. The Spanish Flag vine, Mina lobata, is growing in a container at the base of the middle cypress. It needed a little training at first, but being a vine it knows exactly what to do and has really gotten down to business in the last month. This annual vine, always suggested as an easy climber for summer, is day-length sensitive and will only flower when the nights grow just long enough to suit it.
I’m not sure if I’ll see flowers this fall before the seasonal Santa Ana winds off the desert whip through the garden and shred the Spanish Flag to pieces. Who said gardens aren’t exciting? They’re full of cliff-hangers like this.

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Another vine, Passiflora ‘Sunburst,’ is in a container at the base of the first cypress, where it’s scrambled up over 12 feet in a very short period of time. It has set loads of buds, but it may be too late in the season. I’ve read that this passion vine doesn’t mind cooler temperatures, so we’ll see. The Batman cape-leaves are almost entertainment enough.

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I’ve got a couple more passion vines in containers, one at the base of a pittosporum and another against the back wall of the house (getting too much southern exposure at the moment).

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Just as I always do with potted agaves, I plunged this Agave geminiflora into the garden when some post-summer room became available.

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Containers give so much flexibility, there’s no limit to the amount of crazy you can stir up. Bring a vine to the cypress. Turn up or down the water. Moving to the Canary Islands? Give them all away to a lucky bunch of friends. Another great thing about containers is, if you go back to the top photo and cover the pots with your hand, the collector mania is instantly drained from the photo. Take away the containers, and once again you’re a respectable citizen in a serene garden with healthy control of your impulses.

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I look at it this way: If the vine experiments fail, I’ll have empty containers ready to use next summer.

This entry was posted in agaves, woody lilies, pots and containers, succulents and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to gardens without borders

  1. hb says:

    I’m trying to get potted plants into the ground before the devil winds hit. In your garden, all the pots look good. Batman capes–cool!

  2. Max Parker says:

    Hard to believe that is the same vine. Er, did I say it was dainty? Keep your machete close.

  3. Kris P says:

    I tend to limit my thinking about vines to training them up arbors but I love your more creative approach in allowing them to clamber up other plants. I love passion flower vines (even if mine were previously eaten by Gulf Fritillary larva, usually before they bloomed) and the leaves on yours are especially interesting. You have me thinking of trying to weave Clematis through roses.

  4. Luisa says:

    Your paean to containers is my new manifesto. Also, your ‘Ivory Curls’ is about 1,000 times bigger than mine, and absolutely gorgeous.

    Plants in containers: rewilding the world, one patio, one balcony, one kitchen window at a time…

  5. Denise says:

    @Hoov, it’s been so humid lately that I’m wondering if we might skip the Santa Ana season entirely. I’m all for that!
    @Max, you sent such healthy plants! It’s Flying V that is getting too much sun, but it’s already twining around a structure so I’m hoping it can tough these heat waves out.
    @Kris, I’m noticing a lot of butterfly action around these vines already and there may have been some egg laying…
    @Luisa, rewilding the world one patio at a time, now there’s a manifesto!

  6. rusty duck says:

    I agree about containers, the only way I can grow tender plants successfully in these less hospitable climes. I love the Batman passiflora!

  7. Tim says:

    I don’t often comment, but just wanted to pop in to say I love your garden, photography and writing and I always enjoy your blog. Cheers.

  8. Denise says:

    @RD, I use them to protect plants too — from summer sun usually πŸ˜‰
    @Tim, please pop in again, because you say the nicest things!

  9. Rebecca says:

    Oh boy, I know that feeling with the potted plants! Every little inch.. I can fit something, right? Some little straggler I found on sale, some gift from a friend.. They’re also the best for living in a cold climate, since I can bring stuff in during winter and it’ll be fine. But now I need a bigger Greenhouse. Less plants is very rarely an option, hah!

    Thank you for the lovely photos-as always, your blog is a beautiful inspiration. πŸ˜‰

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