It’s common for folks to ask me questions all day long in the nursery where I work, about plants, planting, and maintenance. However, I think there is a psychological shift that happens as fall and winter get underway. The questions get much more “intense”. People suddenly become much more concerned with the “rules” in designing their containers and landscapes. They begin to feel the impending pressure of the weather changing, and motivation is more about hurrying, and getting things buttoned up and finished.
While we all want to be thinking about the common sense parts of design like not putting water plants with succulents, (ahem….. I’ve never done that, noooooo…..head down shuffling dirt) I think in our hurry to get the task done, we forget about having fun and being adventurous.
Try new plants out what’s the worst that could happen? You could try a plant, whether it’s just something seasonal or a plant that winters over and you find a spot for it at a friend or neighbor’s house instead. I love that old saying “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not gardening.” I paraphrased that for design’s sake, that saying really says “killing plants”.
Now, granted that those of us up here in the NW are blessed and are fully aware that we live in basically horticultural Mecca, but for those of you in tougher climates, it’s no excuse to just fall back on boring old standby plants anymore. Live a little, and be bold, there is such a thing as happy accidents- I do it ALL the time! Did I plan for that Kale to go with that Cypress? Heck no! But, it turned out awesome.
Plant shopping is a lot like trying on clothes. You have to lay them out together or try them on! If you are not a visual person why not take up some room at the nursery and lay out a mini version of your planting area or pot? Get those leaves snuggling one another just as they do in the garden! Shuffle them about until you have them arranged just so- now don’t assume you will do this exact same arrangement when you get them home, because you might have some brilliant flash of insight OR conversely forget that you can’t plant there because of the cable box. Be flexible – there are no design police.
Layering those rich, voluptuous autumn and winter colors and textures together is my own personal drug of choice. Dreaming and scheming ideas to weave together have kept me awake many a night. But, the one thing I DO plan for, I plan to leave room for creative inspiration to strike and change it up. Why can’t that blueberry be in my fall pot? What if I used this non-traditional color scheme in this crazy purple pot? What about a color scheme for this bed that is completely new and different for me?