WPC: Container III

 

The seedpod of Datura, or "Thorn Apple" which contains the seeds of new life.

The seedpod of Datura, or “Thorn Apple” which contains the seeds of new life.

The fruit of the Datura shrub, full of precious seeds, is commonly known as a “thorn apple.”

“Datura” comes to us from a Sanskrit word meaning, “thorn apple,” and this plant has been cultivated for millennia both for its beauty, and for alkaloids it contains.

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Known is some areas as “Jimson Weed,” this is one of those plants which is both poisonous and useful.

Used unskillfully, every part of this plant is poisonous when eaten.

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Used by a skilled shaman, wise in the ways of plants, it becomes a useful ingredient for healing and learning.

 

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The seed pod contains hundreds of tiny seeds, which will scatter when the pod ripens and cracks open in late summer or early fall.

Birds love the seeds, nectar loving insects love the flowers, and some species of caterpillar feed on the leaves.

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The beautiful flowers, known commonly as “Moonflowers,” bloom mainly at night and in the early morning.  They are wonderfully fragrant.

Of the several species of Datura, many are native to  North or Central America.

This plant was used extensively  by the native people of the Americas.  Other species were know in Europe and Asia since ancient times.

This Datura grows in a friend’s garden.

T

She was kind enough to allow me to photograph it when we visited a few days ago.

And, she has promised to share seeds of this beautiful plant when they finally ripen.

The “Thorn Apple,” a container for the seeds of new life.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Container

WPC: Container I

WPC: Container II

WPC: Containers II

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When we want to take care of something special, we put it into a special container of some sort.

Michael included an extra plant with the Lemon Lime Hosta he traded with me for some re-blooming German Iris. 

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He send me a beautiful Japanese Iris division.

Yesterday I potted up the Hosta divisions, and they are snuggled safely in a shady spot on the deck while they recover from their Fed-Exed journey in a cardboard box.

The plants as they appeared when I opened the box this morning.  They look healthy and ready to grow!

The plants as they appeared when I opened the box.   They look healthy and ready to grow!

And I decided to start this beautiful Iris division off properly in a container as well.

We have too many hungry voles, and the weather is too variable in summer, to start these  Japanese Iris off in the ground.

Growing perennials in a container is a little trickier than growing annuals.

Although it is easier to move a container around until you find the perfect spot for the right amount of light during the annual cycle of the plant, perennials offer special challenges.

For one thing, most have a fairly short season of bloom.  These Iris for example, bloom once in the spring for a few weeks, and then they rest.

Although their leaves will grow during the summer, storing up energy for spring, they won’t be ready to command “center stage” in a container until next May.

But in the meantime, perennials are heavy feeders.  They grow extensive root systems, and their need for moisture in the soil varies according to whether or not they are in active growth.

So before settling on a planting plan, I went to consult an expert:  Joel Patton of the Homestead Garden Center.

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There I found the perfect deep pot which will accommodate the massive root system perennials grow, and there Joel helped me select appropriate companion plants for the Japanese Iris.

Iris with the other perennials Joel Patton helped me select for this container.

Iris with the other perennials Joel Patton helped me select for this container.

We settled on three: a Salvia, an Artemesia, and an annual Penta; all of which will appreciate the partial sun and moist soil enjoyed by the Iris during a southern summer.

Since there won’t be any Iris flowers during the remainder of the season, I wanted something which would provide flowers in this container garden from now until frost.

The Salvia nemorosa, “New Dimension Blue” is a sturdy bloomer which will keep sending up blue,  bee-satisfying blossoms over the next three months.  A compact grower , this Salvia will bloom happily in partial sun.

These Penta still have small root systems, so I could tuck one into the pot without crowding the other plants.

These Pentas still have small root systems, so I could tuck one into the pot without crowding the other plants.  Pentas attract all nectar loving wildlife.  The Artemesia, to the left, has insignificant blooms.

The annual Penta will also stay in bloom, provide nectar, and will continue to grow taller until taken down by frost in November.  Joel offered these blooming Pentas in a six-pack, so the root ball was quite small.

Finally, this beautiful Artemesia, reduced here at the end of the season, has plenty of light blue foliage to serve as “filler” as the other plants take off.

As the Iris grows in its new leaves, they will become the tall “thriller” in this pot for the remainder of the season.

I purchased the next to the largest pot Homestead had in stock today, to provide plenty of room for growth.

Recycled soil, in the base of the pot, is enriched with a handful of PlantTone to feed the perennials as they grow.

Recycled soil, in the base of the pot, is enriched with a handful of Plant Tone to feed the perennials as they grow.

It is fine to recycle used potting soil in the bottom of large containers such as this.  Potting soil doesn’t really “wear out” over time.  Its nutrients can be replaced easily enough.  The main problem with old potting soil would be the roots of former plants, which should be removed.

I filled the bottom of the container 2/3 full of recycled compost, and then amended it with Plant Tone to provide food, minerals, and beneficial bacteria.

The Homestead Garden Center is a valuable local resource for organic gardeners.  They only offer organic products and use mostly organic methods with the plants they raise in their greenhouse in Lanexa.

The Homestead Garden Center is a valuable local resource for organic gardeners. They only offer organic products and use organic methods with the plants they raise in their greenhouse in Lanexa.

All of the extra rich soil which Michael sent with his Hosta and Iris went into the mix, and then I topped off the pot with fresh, good quality potting mix.

One thing to keep in mind when planting nursery perennials in mid-summer is that these older plants will generally have become root-bound.    Good garden centers, like Homestead, will re-pot their stock into larger containers as the season progresses.

Gently break up the root ball of pot-bound perennials like this Artemesia before planting in fresh compost.

Gently break up the root ball of pot-bound perennials like this Artemesia before planting in fresh compost.

I chose perennials today from their clearance table; those they would rather move out than re-pot again.

So I was careful to loosen and “rough up” the roots a bit before tucking the root balls into their fresh container.  Over the next week or so, these roots will grow into the fresh soil, and will probably fill this container before frost.

This is a “Four Season pot.”

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The only plant I’ll need to replace during the next year should be the Penta.  I’ll switch it out for a Viola in autumn.

I’ll probably tuck a few  Daffodil bulbs into the center of the pot in November, and possibly some Crocus bulbs around the rim for early spring color.

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The bulbs will wake up first, followed by fresh leaves on the Iris and Artemesia.  The Salvia will show new growth by April, just before the Iris comes into bloom.  As the Iris blossoms fade, the Salvia will come into bloom again next spring.

Micheal’s gift Japanese Iris can live in this pot indefinitely.  They will eventually crowd out the other perennials, or will need dividing.

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That is the trade off with perennials:  although they may offer a fairly short season of active bloom, they return again and again, year after year, for so long as their needs are met.

In a Forest Garden like ours, growing special perennials in containers allows them to reach their potential for beauty and growth, which might not otherwise be possible without the controlled conditions a container garden makes possible.

Thank you again, Michael, for these beautiful Iris.  I can’t wait to see them bloom next spring!

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Container

WPC: Container I

WPC: Container III

 

 

 

 

WPC: Container I

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Some people believe that agriculture allowed the Genesis of human civilization millennia ago.  I beg to differ…

Actually, it was containers.

Once we humans have a place to put something, and a way to move it from here to there, we begin to collect; and to accumulate.  And civilization as we know it is born…

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So containers are the basic building blocks of our modern, civilized lives.  Think about it-

What is a home, a car, a pantry, or even a shoe… but a specialized container?

I have a special affinity for containers. 

Maybe it’s because my mother spent several years as a Tupperware dealer when she needed a flexible schedule for a while.   She always loved Tupperware, and selling it gave her the opportunity to add to her collection and set aside a kitchen full of Tupperware for each of us kids to have one day.

I still keep my flour in an ancient Tupperware container inherited from my grandmother.

And the sugar keeps forever in the 70’s era avocado green Tupperware my mother set aside for me all those years ago.

Still, I drive my partner nuts by saving many of the “disposable” containers which pass through our lives.

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These frozen yogurt containers have a thousand alternative uses…

Like catching the tiny blue tailed lizard who somehow got into our home earlier today.  He was skittering across the living room floor when I spotted him this afternoon.

Fortunately for him, our cat was sunning himself out on the deck.

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After several tries, this little guy trusted me enough to cooperate in the delicate task of catching him, lifting him from the floor, and taking him back outside where he can catch his dinner.

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Once outside, he was kind enough to allow a photo-op before disappearing behind the pots of our container garden on the patio.

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Where would we be without our containers? 

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Container

WPC: Container II

WPC: Container III

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Our Forest Garden- The Journey Continues

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