What could offer more possibility than a garden in early spring? A couple of weeks ago, after some late rain, I got my little container garden going again. Spent bulbs were pulled out, fresh soil and organic amendments were put in. And seeds and seedlings were planted.
I loved going to the nursery and wandering among the colorful bedding plants. I also loved picking out seeds to plant. Seed packets are always wonderful. They’re beautifully illustrated and full of promise and lore. I adore old-fashioned flowers, and managed to get some new ones this year to supplement my usual sweet peas, delphinium, cosmos, nasturtium, and stock. In particular, clary sage and scabiosa called to me.
Because I’m in a climate zone that gets cool summer fog wafting from the ocean, over the nearby mountain, and above my deck as it heads east, I’ve learned to plant shade-loving varieties. Peas love it here, and I always have vines of them climbing up trellises and lots of healthy peas ready for picking. (Verticality helps me get a lot of crops from my container garden.) I also plant lettuce and usually have a fog-tolerant tomato plant going.
A couple summers ago, I actually grew pumpkins, as well as stalks of corn in my largest container. The corn was able to cross-pollinate (which is key), as the container’s square shape allowed just enough rows across and down. Just planting them, in a small space with little sun, was optimism defined. The corn was miniature, as was the prized pumpkin, which trailed up and over its container and onto the deck.
This season, practicality, along with romantic heirloom flowers, won out. I usually plant a container I call the Aspen box, inspired by the beautiful summer flowers that greeted me in Aspen, Colorado, when I visited for my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding, some years ago. Here’s the start of this year’s Aspen box, with cosmos, lobelia and stock:
I love stock, in particular. It’s praises are undersung, I think. It’s a wonderful cottage-garden flower, growing or cut. It’s delightfully old-fashioned, with hardy, though delicate looking, petals that give off a sweet-spicy scent.
I added spots of brighter reds and yellows in some of the other boxes, like this nice Pecotee petunia, and an accent dahlia.
My Canadice champagne grape plant came back nicely after losing its leaves for the winter. Perennial plants never fail to amaze me.
I was happy to see a bee performing its pollinating duties on a cosmos.
Last year, I bought these sweet seeds at a school garden fair. Children had harvested the seeds and designed the packets.
Other seeds await planting in my cupboard.
Also in the cupboard, this robin’s egg, which we rescued from the ground. Of course, its hue is the quintessential “robin’s egg blue” that painters over time have attempted to replicate.
Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman