March Meeting

We welcomed two new members and one guest.

Our speaker for the evening was Janie Bedwell, President of the Gateway Professional Horticulturist Association and staff member at SLCC Meramec. The GPHA is responsible for the beautiful and huge planters around Kiener Plaza downtown. Janie shared her expertise about containers–the size homeowners can manage.

Texture can come from foliage as well as flowers. It’s important when the space to work within is a container.

Pattern comes from pots and the contrast between the plants and the pot. Also pay attention to the background. If your container sits up against a wall, what is the color and pattern of the wall and does it relate or contrast to your planting.

Color is obviously a main feature. Keeping colors within the same family works well, but personal choice is key. Go with what you like. Have a happy memory from childhood? Pull the colors from that memory and use them.

Containers: Bigger is better to reduce watering. For very large pots, fill the bulk of it with packing peanuts, sweet gum balls or anything to displace the amount of potting soil. Annuals don’t have the deep roots of a perennial. Every container must have adequate drainage, but otherwise you can use anything you want. Skip the saucers too, or make sure your pot is not sitting in water. Containers in the same area need not match; mix different sizes, shapes and colors for a great effect.

Design: The three basic elements are thriller, filler and spiller. The thriller is the tall plant in the center; the filler goes around that and the spiller cascades over the side. If you can’t fit all of those into one container, try grouping three smaller containers for the same result. Don’t be afraid to yank an overgrown plant.

What else can you put in a container besides annuals? Perennials, small shrubs or evergreens, cacti, bulbs, vegetables, herbs, a water garden complete with a small fountain and even lighting–put a battery operated mini light in your container for night time drama.

Janie’s slide program continued with shots of unusual containers: painted cans attached to a wall, a birdbath, small night stand/dresser with the drawers as the planters, a tree stump, a hollowed log, a shopping cart, or pots within a pot to make quick changes. Try a seasonal or a theme planting.

Potting soil: Janie uses MetroMix 700 (available from Hummerts) as a good, all around potting mix. What about the soil from last year’s pots? Sometimes the root mass is just too dense to leave much soil, but If the plants were heathy, it’s okay to use and mix with new soil. Don’t forget to fertilize about every two weeks. Frequent watering takes the nutrients with it.

SLCC Meramec in conjunction with Gateway Greening will host a plant sale on the west parking lot of the Meramec campus on April 23, 24, 25. Check the Gateway Gardener magazine for details.

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