The Kitchen Patio at Minerva’s Garden 2017

Hello! Here is a glimpse into one of my favorite garden areas at our home–the kitchen patio.  This is a tiny space that started life out as an uneven, muddy slope that was unusable. We leveled it off, added a gravel base, (which I recommend in our rainy climate because it drains well and you don’t have muddy shoes when you walk out here in the winter), and then I proceed every year to decorate it with plants and garden art.  Some years are more successful than others, but I liked how it turned out this year.

In the summer months, I often come out here in the morning to sip my Licorice Spice tea and read a mystery, or write, and my breakfast is often taken out here as well.

The site gets morning sun and afternoon shade, and I’ve used predominately what are traditionally considered plants that can take some shade–lots of begonias, impatiens, coleus, fern and lobelia work well here, and I find that I don’t need to water these containers nearly as much as those who have afternoon sun exposure, and they maintain their beautiful colors for a longer time because they are protected from the sun’s harsh afternoon rays.

Some of these plants I started myself from seed, while others I purchased at the spring plants sales.  Another benefit is that none of these plants need to be deadheaded, a huge timesaver over traditional container plants like petunias and pelargonium.  I planted all these containers around May 15th, and filled the pots with a homemade container mix of old potting soil, new soil conditioner and a slow-acting organic fertilizer.  Using this good soil frees me from weekly fertilizing, saving oodles of time over the course of the summer.  My only real chore is to water them when needed, usually once per day in the hot summer months.  I never container garden in any pot smaller than the two-gallon size, and preferably bigger, because the smaller-sized pots dry out so rapidly they create a huge maintenance nightmare.

My backdrop to the containers is a section of fence, on which grows a variety of flowering vines, mostly clematis and a huge star jasmine.  There is also a short section of backdrop made from bi-fold doors that were painted turquoise and attached to metal posts.

My garden furniture and art is inexpensive, happy and simple.  I spray painted the metal floral table and chairs a bright turquoise,which contrasts nicely with some of the deeper-hued begonias and coleus in shades of burgundy and pink. Metal candle holders and a metal lantern were also spray painted turquoise, and add interest on the fences, and I selected inexpensive hanging garden art in shades of greens and turquoise.  To finish it off, I have scattered smoothed blue glass and seashells all over the top of the gravel floor surface.  Large seashells, driftwood, and even some clam shells on top of the table center add to the beachy ambience.

I have gathered this collection of containers over the years, and all but one of the pots are plastic, with the tulip-shaped pot a lightweight metal.  You can easily use pots that come in a variety of shapes and sizes that you like, and which you can often find at thrift stores and yard sales, but then bring cohesion to the grouping by spray painting the pots in matching or complementary shades.  I usually go for turquoise pots, as the accent color on our house is turquoise, and so it helps to draw the building and planting beds into visual unity.

Also note the use of elevation in some of the pots.  Raising some pots up on top of columns, or shorter blocks makes for a more interesting overall composition than all the pots on the same level.  You can also achieve differences in overall height depending on the types of plants you select.  Coleus get quite large and tall, while lobelia is a fluffy trailer that stays low, for example.

With these container garden tips and strategies, I find that I can spend less time maintaining this garden and more time simply enjoying it!

Until next time,

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