Photo: Ralph Lee Anderson

If summertime means lake time, then don't forget the dock. Add a splash of color in a red, white, and blue palette to the spot where you'll enjoy it most.

There's only one steadfast rule when planting colorful pots: Use them where you'll see them! A spirited container garden would enliven any dock, porch, or patio. To take traditional red, white, and blue to the next level, introduce grounding colors to the mix. Burgundy adds richness to red, and purple-to-black hues balance blue. For white, vary textures to heighten sparkle.

The ideal container for this look is a vintage French washtub with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. (Look for them at flea markets and antiques stores.) Planters dry out fast in the summer heat, so retain moisture by adding several handfuls of compost or peat to the potting mix. Place plants from tallest to shortest in premoistened soil. Water when soil is slightly dry. For gardening near the water, we recommend using only organic fertilizers, such as Multi Bloom Organic all-purpose fertilizer, per label directions.

Top a Table
Use this quick-fix combo as the centerpiece for your Fourth of July barbecue. Leave the plants in their original pots. When the party is over, you can add them to your garden.

You'll Need:
• 3 (1-gallon) 'Sun Parasol Crimson' mandevillas
• 1 (8-inch) basket 'Titan White' Madagascar periwinkle
• 2 (1-quart) 'Techno Blue' lobelias
• Drink cooler
• Mini-nugget bark mulch

Start by watering plants well. Fill the cooler with enough mulch to raise pots to the same height as the edge of the cooler. Place mandevillas first. Add Madagascar periwinkle in front; then tuck in a lobelia on each side. Hide the original pots with a layer of mulch, which will help retain moisture.

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