Thrillers, Fillers & Spillers

Some tips and shortcuts for beautifying your yard with planters

When potting plants for your yard and garden there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are a couple different scenarios:

Scenario 1Patty and her husband Frank had empty pots by choice. Both busy doctors who love to golf, they typically hire someone to do their patio plants and pots because they aren’t gardeners.

Frank was finding the cost of custom designed pots expensive so he called me posing the question “Is there any way to reduce the cost of having our pots done?”

Frank admitted Patty and he didn’t mind spending the money on the custom design but it seemed like the cost was escalating.

After meeting with the two, we came upon a simple solution. Frank and Patty would ditch their fussy French iron furnishings and spend the bulk of their yard and garden budget on plush outdoor couches — so when they get home from a busy day in the office or the golf course they can relax on their back patio. After settling that, I sent the couple off to a garden center to buy a hanging basket for each of their pots. They simply removed the plastic hanging basket containers and popped the already existing arrangement into their ceramic pots. Instant. Colourful. Easy. Cheap. I thought Frank was going to kiss me over the phone.

Scenario 2Judy is a retired engineer who hired out her plant pot design for the first time this year because, as a recent widow, she was thinking it was too complex to figure out the planting herself. She paid more than $700 to have five pots planted and in the end the “designer” she hired forgot to drill holes in the new pots (for proper drainage).

Judy e-mailed me when, after the record rains this spring, the plants started floating out of their pots. Salvaging a few plants, Judy drilled holes in the pots herself, bought some new plants and declared, “This isn’t too difficult. I am going to do it myself next year”.

Planting pots can be simple if you remember this shopping rule when it comes to plants: Buy a thriller, filler and spiller. The “thriller” is a plant that is tall and dominant. In Judy’s case she decided she likes purple fountain grass spouting out the center of her pots. “Filler” plants fill in empty spaces and bulk up the pot, for those of you gardening in Calgary, think geraniums and petunias; and “spillers” are plants that fall freely over the pot edge such as trailing lobelia, white bacopa or alyssum.

Donna Balzer speaks and writes about gardening, tweets @NoGuffGardener and blogs at www.gardenguru.net.

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