by Sandy Swegel
One of my favorite jobs each year is designing twenty-two flower pots for an urban condo. The homeowners are real garden lovers but they live in the middle of the city on a high floor. Rather than be content to just look at the amazing mountain vistas their elevation provides, they decided to bring flowers to them in profusely planted pots.
The fun for me is not just designing the interesting combinations of flowers and foliage, but also using the flowers to set the mood for each tiny “room” on the deck.
Here are some of the moods I’ve asked the flowers to set this year.
Sweet, soft gentle awakening.
I love vivid designs, but sometimes one needs to move slowly into the day. So the flowers outside the bedroom window are pretty and not too stirring. Salmon geraniums with spilling blue lobelia. A small white pot with water plants like papyrus. A gentle mood set for early morning.
Late Afternoon Jolt of Wow
The east side of the deck has afternoon shade and really comfy chairs, so it’s a grand spot for guests and afternoon cocktails. Planters here are full of what I call the diva plants: giant purples and oranges. Weird grasses or showy reds. This year a feathery purple Japanese Maple surrounded by orange tropical kangaroo paw and goldfish plant and any other odd orange flowery thing I could find provide the centerpiece. Last year a hot red castor bean plant and lime green foliage and fuchsia colored flowers did the trick. Pots on the perimeter are full of giant petunias and cascading sweet potato vines. Diva flowers always look even more amazing after a few margaritas.
After cocktails, people shift to the grill area. Plants are sturdy here on a west deck. A couple of potted evergreens to balance the big grill and table. Orange hibiscus that is bright and colorful but doesn’t mind being jostled or heated by the grill. Multi-colored coleus to create the illusion of color and texture in the setting shade. An herb pot in case the grills needs some extra rosemary sprigs.
After the sun sets, people move indoors and even though there are soft solar lights coming on near a fountain, the flowers fade in the coming night. Exceptions are the white alyssum and silver foliage spread throughout pots that glow under moonlight or the orange osteospermum with the purple fluorescent centers that hold the light a little longer.
Flowers are such powerful influences in our lives. We choose what we grow for many reasons.