Kan. — When Sharon Pedroja and her husband, Bob, moved
to a patio home last year, the master gardener left
behind a house in Crown Heights where she’d gardened
for 43 years for a simpler setup.
didn’t realize when they picked out their new house
that the front faced north — "the first time I’ve
ever faced north in my life" — so that meant more
shade. And the soil in the east-side yard turned out to
be yellow clay. Pedroja had wanted to switch to
lower-maintenance plants anyway, so she’s forged ahead
into containers for portable, easy-care gardening.
she’s not just going with annuals, the usual
ingredients in pots. She’s putting a lot of perennials
in them and simply leaving them outside over the winter.
Most of them have popped back fresh this spring.
had plenty of perennials in the ground at her old house
that needed dividing anyway, so she brought divisions
with her to plant in pots. Fall-blooming sedums were dug
up out of the ground and put in hanging hay racks, for
an opportunity to start over," Pedroja says.
"I’m doing less annuals and more perennials and
thinking about what makes it simpler in the long run
without losing the appearance you want to have. It’s
been fun. It’s kind of invigorating after being in the
same place for 43 years."
BASKETS FOR SUN AND SHADE
uses hanging baskets to frame a door or add a pop of
color even in midair — hanging from a hook attached to
the deck. The hanging baskets often hold annuals.
there, Pedroja tries to get easy-care ones that have a
lot of pop, such as Vista Bubblegum supertunia petunias.
She puts them in both hanging baskets and in the ground.
hanging baskets that don’t need much water, try rose
having to do her front hanging baskets differently
because they’ll be in the shade.
thinking I’ll use some pretty coleus varieties and a
begonia or two. They’ll be able to take the shade and
still be bright."
a tall, narrow, red pot alongside the garage, she has
placed mandevilla and sticks of redtwig dogwood, which
is such a forgiving plant that it is sprouting leaves on
its cut branches stuck in the pot.
of her clematis pots "are spectacular. And one is
loaded with buds. I really like having them in pots.
Some have been in there three or four years, and they’re
always puts pots on the stairs leading up to the front
door, and this year, she had decided to do hostas. But
then she decided she needed some height, too, so "I
put Solomon’s seal in a pot. … I saw them at Hong’s
— they have a lot of Solomon’s seal in pots. …
Architecturally, it was just really attractive. Hostas
tend to be pretty low, and I thought that would give me
something upright on the steps."
she’s had success with hostas and clematis in pots,
she’s branching out this year with these individual
plants and combinations:
Coreopsis plus helenium for flowers that bloom into
Invasive red-stemmed penstemon, a bright pink dianthus
and a scabiosa with variegated foliage and dark pink
Asters to attract more butterflies, in addition to a
potted butterfly bush
IN POTS OVER THE WINTER
and chickens made it through the winter. A huge hosta
made it through the winter, bless its heart. I tend to
do things that don’t take a lot of maintenance,"
said master gardener Sharon Pedroja.
winter, "I don’t do a thing to them. I just leave
them out. I try to put a little leaf mulch on them, but
I didn’t. Even in the really bad winters, maybe it’s
like five years for some of these clematis."
best certainty of getting a plant through the winter in
a pot, choose those that are hardy two zones colder than
your location. Pedroja intends to press her luck with
others that like it warmer; if they die, she’ll
replace them with something else.
OF CONTAINER GARDENING
can move them around. When one plant wasn’t getting
enough sun, Pedroja simply moved the pot.
can corral plants that otherwise are invasive if planted
in the ground.
can put a pop of color wherever you want — even if
that’s midair — by putting hanging baskets on hooks
attached to decks or stuck into flower beds or hanging
hail threatens, you can move the pots indoors. You can
also try covering plants in the ground with buckets,
empty pots or outdoor furniture — whatever’s at
FOR A WIDE GARAGE
Sharon Pedroja’s last house was a cottage and provided
a natural backdrop to a cottage garden, her new, modern
house is rather dominated by the garage. Her first year
in the house, she flanked the garage with large urns,
until she got a tip from Shawnee County extension agent
Jamie Kidd about wide garages: Put the color where you
want the eye to go; don’t balance the two sides of the
garage. It’s like looking at a television set.
your garage door plain; paint your front door red,"
Kidd gives as an example. Use dull greens around the
garage so you don’t draw attention to it, she says.
is putting the bulk of her color to the side of the
garage that’s toward the front door, so people look
there rather than at the garage.