by Charlene Burgi
This week found me judging flowers and floral arrangements at the local county fair, which encompasses three counties in northeastern California. I have always enjoyed being the spectator, but this was my first experience judging my passion: flowers.
It was interesting to note the wide variety of colors and forms in the individual categories of single flowers. It also piqued my interest why there were so few of some types of flower entered while other varieties were abundant.
But what fascinated me most were the creative uses of containers in the live plant section. A somewhat crumpled paper bag—lined with plastic—housed an adorable floral arrangement submitted by a 4-H student. An old leather boot displayed a spray of straw-colored grasses of various types and sizes. A striking old metal cauldron held an assortment of succulents, which were arranged to spill over the edges, evoking an image of boiling water. The largest and most imaginative display featured a wringer washer painted in bright colors and filled with vegetables—all the makings of salsa.
These makeshift containers made me think of the elaborate and very expensive containers we sold in our nursery many years ago. Those containers were well-made and outfitted with drainage holes and saucers to collect excess water from irrigation. But as I think back on them, they lacked the whimsy of the ones I saw this week. It wasn't clear how these creative containers addressed excess irrigation water. They certainly did not offer matching saucers! Yet there was a charm factor that couldn't be missed.
Container plants usually demand more water and fertilizer than plants growing in the ground. Thus it was delightful to see the number of entries featuring succulents, since they require less water than other, thirstier plants.
Apart from special considerations for water and fertilizer, containers can be very convenient. They are easy to manage in terms of weeding, and they can be moved about to accent an area, or placed out of sight when the plants are spent of blooms or go into dormancy. And of course containers are great options for condo or apartment dwellers and others with small outdoor spaces.
Container creativity: Have you tried your hand at it? Are you willing to share with other readers what you have done? It's Labor Day weekend and what a great time to explore this avenue!
Have a safe, restful weekend.