This weekend is Mother’s Day, and a visit to a local nursery is always a good idea to show Mom your growing love.
This year the Tacoma Garden Club is gifting the city a display of flowers combined with classic cars in a display at the Le May Car museum across the street from the Tacoma Dome. I led a seminar at the event called Drive by Design, and here are a few ideas from that seminar, inspired by my travels. They will inspire your own traffic-stopping designs.
Ferrari are from Italy – so is formal design
You don’t need an Italian villa to enjoy the Dolce Vita. Symmetry and balance are the classic design tips that make any landscape more formal and as classic as a red Ferrari. Planting ideas include a pair of evergreens on either side of the front door, urn-shaped planters filled with white or evergreen plant material, and enclosed courtyards with a central fountain.
Plants to borrow from an Italian landscape that need little water include yews, yuccas, arums, hardy cyclamen and, of course, the Mediterranean herbs for cooking great Italian food: basil, rosemary and sage.
Tip: Italians would never eat pasta or any other food inside a car. Dining is an art of eating slowly with family and friends and a Ferrari is a work of art — not to be ruined with sauce.
Mercedes are from Germany – and so are colorful window boxes
Classic German engineering creates the dependable Mercedes, and also the always-dependable window boxes filled with flowers from the German countryside.
The key to color all summer is to use annuals such as ivy geraniums and petunias in window boxes and container gardens. The ivy geraniums take the heat and can’t be beat for continuous color, but the new supertunias are becoming a contender in the race for best flowering plants for window boxes.
The common name “geranium” is not really accurate for the heat-loving summer blooming plant the Germans love. The botanical name is pelargoniums and these rather succulent plants love hot days and cool nights. The newest varieties combine the zonal or upright geraniums with the ivy-leaf type to create the Galleria series and the new Caliente series of geraniums, which have better branching and more flowers.
If you haven’t tried geraniums in hanging baskets or window boxes for a few years, get thee to a nursery and give these new plants a try.
Tip: The scent of pelargoniums or geraniums repels flies and mosquitoes so that is the reason you see them displayed in German window boxes. In countries without air conditioning, the windows are left open during the day and the geranium scent keeps the insects out.
Americans love trucks – and the country garden
Be it a Ford, a Chevy or even a truck called the ”Tacoma,” the American love of trucks keeps our farms and country gardens growing. Ideas to take away include the meadow garden with planted wild flowers, a garden of sunflowers and rudbeckias inspired by Midwest prairies, or for small-space city dwellers, the frugal idea of reusing and recycling container gardens. Consider these dirt-cheap, All-American ideas:
Petal to the Metal: Metal wash tubs, metal buckets, even metal mail boxes with holes drilled into the bottom for drainage make great containers for a casual display of daisy-type blooms. Coreopsis, rudbeckias, Shasta daisies and others look great in metal containers, and these perennials can all take the heat from the metal and will return the following year, making these containers dirt cheap to create and maintain.
Incredible Edibles? Yankee thrift has also inspired the world to grow more tomatoes, cabbage and lettuce in recycled containers, including everything from metal file cabinets (lay one on its side and plant where the drawers were) to adding colorful greens such as Swiss Chard “Bright Lights” as an accent plant for ornamental containers.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.