My daughter Michelle moved into her first home last summer, a beautiful townhome. It has been my privilege to help her with several projects. One thing on my list is to install some plants around her new luxury palace. To that end, I potted starts from my garden last summer, waiting for the day we move the collection to Michelle’s. At last she is ready to garden. Oh, happy day!
It is time to pull up her big girl planties and get on with it. Bad pun, I know.
No gardener can be taken seriously without a few tools. The short handled blue shovel is personalized and was used by Child Michelle to dig in Dad’s garden. She and her sister ran a cemetery for birds and animals that happened to expire in the vicinity. That work required a good shovel. I will miss seeing the little shovel on the tool rack but it is time to relocate it to its rightful owner.
The rake is adjustable to the size of the gardener as well as the width of the target area. The trowel has been in my hands for years and I can think of nothing I would like better than placing it in the hands of a new gardener. The large shovel is brand new, ready for Michelle’s first plunge into soil.
Step 1 in container gardening is to choose pots. A gardener can plunk down serious cash for pots or the frugal gardener can use anything that will hold dirt. I have seen some interesting choices for containers. Consider how the pot will affect the aesthetics of your home. The old toilet the neighbor has on the curb for the trash man may not be the best solution for your garden.
Think about the weight of the pot. The nuclear hardened concrete monstrosity may look cool in the garden shop, but can it be moved once it is filled with dirt? The $1,000,000 Ming vase may seem like a good idea until it is tapped with an errant shovel and goes to pieces. Mobility is important in container gardening as pots can be shuffled during the growing season to keep the garden fresh and new.
My new gardener found a couple of winning pots at the newly opened Garden Ridge store in Raleigh. I have not been to the store, but it sounds like a chick Mecca with unbelievable selections of home décor items. Their web site is:
You can tell them Michelle sent you.
Outside pots fill up with rain and too much water is as bad for the plants as too little water. We need to add drain holes. Michelle is using a 3/8” bit and punching holes around the bottom of her new pot. There is no magic to the number of holes. Simple install enough to do the job. I know that sounds like the answer I got from a plumber when I asked how tightly to install a connection. “Well, tighten it until no water leaks out.” Add drain holes until no water stands in the pot.
Now we are off to select the green friends and plant the containers. I keep a pile of my special soil for such occasions. Plants sent from my home leave with happy roots. It is a matter of gardening pride.
Note Michelle’s shoveling technique. It really does help to hold the mouth correctly and stick the tongue out, just a little. Thank you, Shawn, for catching the picture at exactly the right moment.
Look at those muscles! You go, girl!
The plants need to be transplanted from their current location to Michelle’s pots. I use a shovel to break the soil around the plant and then gently pull and lift. Be careful to push the shovel straight down so root damage is lessened. This is a peony and has to be planted at the soil surface for best performance. It will not bloom if planted too deeply.
Some plants need to be trimmed or split before potting. Michelle wants this sedum cut into parts so it can ring her Japanese maple. We pull the plant apart, decide on the location of the cut, then I use a very sharp knife to make the split. Watch the fingers. Michelle’s are inside blue gloves so they are not lost in the foliage as I whack.
As I cut the plant, Michelle works her magic and tucks them in.
Consider adding a label to the pot so the plants can be identified later. Some gardeners like the Latin names while others prefer common names. I believe Michelle decided this one is to be called George. For my labels I use a Sharpie and vinyl slats from an old window blind. The writing fades after a season or two but can be rewritten if needed.
If the garden cash stash is big, fancier labels can be had at the local garden center. I’m happy with these.
My smiling daughter held this fern and decided moss was needed to make it feel at home. What do you do when your daughter asks for something? Can you resist those dimples and sparkling blue eyes? I can’t.
Using my trusty knife, I harvested moss from the garden. I cut the soil around the moss colony then used the blade and my fingers to lift it. Michelle approved the selection and decided it was soft enough for the fern.
Moss breaks into chunks easily and can be pushed into the soft soil of the pot. Water the moss generously every day for a week to settle it. Then water as needed. Ferns like shade and damp, two things to consider when locating the pot.
We are ready to transport the booty. In Dad’s garden shop there is no checkout line, just load it up and haul it away. I do expect a big hug, though!
Nikky Nissan (my daughters named all our vehicles) is a big help in delivery. I have some granite scraps I saved from the landfill and squared as best I could. Michelle will use those under her pots on the deck.
The plants are happy and excited to begin their journey!
And Michelle is happy. Another satisfied customer.
We are at Michelle’s toting the plants around the back of the building to her deck.
Her table and chairs are an open invitation to visit, sit a spell, and talk.
Sweetheart, I hope these plants bring you joy as you tend and care for them. I hope you feel a great sense of satisfaction as you watch them grow.
I know that’s how I feel about you!