May 23, 2017

Lush Container Planting via England

Are you just getting started, or finished?


This is the year I have been saying something has to give, well, as friends reminded say this every year! 
As other aspects of my biz grows and my getting older, 2017 is my swan song for container plantings at clients homes, but I have tips galore to share!
My container “career” began in England. I was stunned at the overflowing baskets, pots, window boxes, and not just a few here and there, but in the most humble of home, commercial buildings, public squares and the gloriously renown London hotel containers.......
well, .everywhere!

To not have such adornment is unusual. Once asking a friend why her neighbor had empty pots, thinking to myself, they must be ill, befallen misfortune…….something is wrong there, ‘Oh, they are American’ she said flippantly. Uggghhhh!
So what was so special that I learned? Lots!

Plant root ball to root ball. What?! 
Yep, The British have a longer growing season than us and are seemingly not wasting time. 
No following plant labels suggesting 8” or so apart. And I believe they are spot on!
                         One of our clients in Illinois

Guess what? There is one more consideration……..after the container is complete, add seeds, stuffed into available crevices!
Nasturtiums are a great choice

Planting heavily? Fertilize Heavily! The best option is to add Osmocote, a slow release fertilizer. The directions instruct you to sprinkle on top of the soil after planting. Disregard…….yes, mix it in with the soil, where this product is nearly in touch with the root system where the nourishment is required. Already planted? Scratch it in.

Need ideas? 
My 'Outdoor Container' Pinterest page is chalk full of inspiration


Take a look around your property, could your home use window boxes? I know they would accommodate urns, how many and where?
  1. Choose containers that match the architectural style and color of your exterior
  2. Consider placement within the flower beds, as a focal point on the lawn, or as a big grouping
  3. How about this? Force your guests to slow down and enjoy the planting
4. Do not forget hanging baskets, take a look around. To maintain moisture in the basket, place a diaper in the base, holds moisture you know!     

      5.   Consider water preservatives to lessen your work. ‘Soil Moist’ is a popular brand, even Wal-Mart carries this

                   Have Fun!

In my previous post, I offered 2 wins for the new liquid less NEST diffuser;
 one for signing up for my inspiration called SOUL STYLE, a silent visual emailed about twice a month.
       Winner……Bridget Weiss of California
The other was to sign up for my Instagram page, DebraPhillips_@5thandstate.  
        Winner……Maye Le Page of Louisiana

I’ll send very soon girls, when I catch my breath!

                            Thank you for visiting! 


  1. No one does a container garden better! I always love seeing your beautiful creations and thank you for the great tips. Happy Tuesday, my friend!

  2. Ha, I love the comment about the Americans! When I gardened with Sarah, our 'rootball to rootball' was 'cram and jam.' Same concept. The diaper is a new one for me!

  3. I bet your clients are so sad you're no longer doing containers for them---I would be! I love these tips as we have listed our home and hope to buy a smaller place with (hopefully) container outdoor space only. Quick question, I have been a Miracle Gro girl for years with GroPower as my organic go-to quarterly fertilizer. But my friend, who has similar talents as you where container planting is concerned, uses Osmocote and it works beautifully. I saw that you had a pic of Miracle Gro but didn't mention it in the post. Is it still something you use?
    I'm proud of you for taking the reins and pulling back on a few things to allow yourself to breathe and enjoy this summer!

  4. This post is just in time for my weekend planting! Thanks for all the tips. Also, I am still telling people about the amazing book signing you held for Kristy Woodson Harvey! I LOVED the book, and I hope you'll have another signing for book 2. Glad to hear also you are being good to yourself and cutting back. 😘

  5. Every single one of your tips is fabulous. We work a very large garden every year and I also plant a lot of containers. I have always wondered how the European flower boxes look so beautiful and full. It's the root ball to root ball approach. Why didn't I think of that idea. I also have to remember to fertilize more often. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Fantastic and Timely tips for a beautiful container garden!!

  7. Hi Debra.

    I had always just assumed the difference in appearance between American gardens & English gardens was due to climate: cool & damp over there (like the scene in your blog's header) versus, well, whatever it is we have here. So to find out it's not so much a climatological difference, as one of approach, is something of a shock.

    Not that I can't understand the different approaches: in my family, we had both types of people. On one hand, there was my little brother, who never liked it if any two things touched on his plate, and on the other hand, there was our grandmother, whose blowsy bouquets contained every kind of flower, all crammed willy-nilly into whatever container was closest at hand, whether that happened to be a vase or a teapot or a pitcher it was OK. Her plate at Thanksgiving had the same appearance of abundance, with two or three layers of food stacked on top of each other, and topped with a layer of gravy. The look of horror as they cast surreptitious sidelong glances at each other's plates was memorable. It was as if the gods Apollo & Dionysus had showed up for lunch on the same day.

    But as far as practical advice goes, this was the best. Instead of that persnickety eight-to-ten inches apart nonsense -- AKA my brother's approach -- just cram everything together rootball-to-rootball, with random seeds plugged into any bare spots seems much friendlier. As well as the suggestion to mix the fertilizer right into the soil, instead of sprinkling it around on top of the soil, where it has to wait for a good rain to reach the roots. Lastly, the hint about lining hanging baskets with diapers makes perfect sense.


  8. to magneverde........
    i have made it! i have a comment from you!
    and to my meager audience, when this man responds he stories are a magical prose. words in lesser hands wilt, no willy nilly here.
    Bart, you brought me into your family's dining room, as clear as if i was there.
    best my friend

  9. GOT IT!
    ROOTBALL to ROOTBALL..............JAM it IN!
    MY kind of thinking TOO and VITA's as well!!!!!!!!
    PS. This was in my SPAM!


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