A Terrific Trio for Summer

All I needed were two friendly plants and a pot.

July and August present two challenges to Grumpy. First, how can I bring continuous color to my shady garden in front of the house? Second, how can I do it without spending more than 20 minutes outside in the sizzling, soupy Alabama air? You can see my solution above. It consists of an annual flower, a perennial, and a vibrant pot. Let's examine these elements, shall we?

Summer Container Garden with Impatiens Acorus

Steve Bender

The Annual Flower

For continuous bloom in shade and warm weather, you can't do better than impatiens. Unfortunately, a serious disease called impatiens downy mildew has beset impatiens in recent years. It can cause an entire bed to melt and die overnight. That won't happen here. This new impatiens is named Beacon White (there are an entire range of colors in the Beacon Series). Beacon is genetically resistant to the disease, so the next time you're shopping for impatiens, check it out.

The Perennial

When pairing plants, I like to look for compatible colors and growing preferences plus different forms for visual interest. Here I chose a grass-like plant called yellow Japanese sweet flag (Acorus gramineus 'Ogon'). Its upright, bright-yellow leaves contrast nicely with the horizontal impatiens and are evergreen in my USDA 8A garden. It forms a clump 10 to 12 inches tall. Like impatiens, it enjoys shade and moist, well-drained soil. Although it grows fine in the ground, it loves growing in a pot.

The Pot

If you want long-lasting color from a pot, start with a colorful pot. I chose a 12-inch, glazed, Byzantine blue Mexican pot (with a drain hole, of course). I like the way blue and yellow look together and white goes with anything. Next year, I may substitute an orange annual for the white. I love orange, yellow, and blue.

Of course, there are 1,614,992 variations of this theme, so pick the one that works for you. Use only bagged potting soil, never soil from the garden. Feed with a slow-release, organic fertilizer a couple of times a year.

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