3-step summer planters--easy and pretty!
Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 9:12AM
Gale Martin / @Gale_Martin in bedding flowers, flowers, planting, planting tips. summer planters, recommendations, reflections, thinking

last year's pansy planterI love planting annuals in pots and baskets. Geraniums, pansies, marigolds, verbenum, petunias--you name it. If we ever go away, it is easier for our neighbors to keep our flowers watered if we just put all the pots under the deck for them. Also, they are safer from the multitude of nibbling bunnies in planters of a certain height.

A few years ago, one of my favorite garden centers in Lancaster County, Stauffers of Kissel Hill (I never met a garden center I didn't like), offered a simple 3-step formula for planting flowers in pots: thriller, filler, spiller.

In other words, make sure you have all three in your planters for maximum effect--something for show, something for fullness, something to spill out over the pot or basket.

We've had an unusually cold spring in the Northeast. Apart from pansies, I hadn't put out any bedding flowers yet. One of our neighbors, a classic overachiever, put out all her bedding flowers already and had to wrap bed sheets around them to protect from the cold and wind earlier this week.

Finally, I got a good deal of weeding done yesterday. I told myself that if I got three whole beds weeded, I'd treat myself to a trip to another local garden center close by called Farmstead Flowers and buy a few bedding flowers to revive a few of last year's sorry-old planters.


FILL me!

I began shopping at one place which used to be called Burkholder’s Greenhouse, a family-owned and operated business was originally started as a hobby that I'd pass by on my way to and from work. In 2005 the business was handed over to the second generation, who completely rebuilt it, and renamed "Farmstead Flowers". And it is a spectacular operation now. I can't get over the variety and quality of plants and planters and fountains. You can drop a boatload of cash at Farmstead, believe it. But I like to spread my dollars around to other family-owned garden centers, too.

Farmstead Flowers

  Now, the variety of bedding flowers at Farmstead is nearly limitless this time of year. It is sometimes overwhelming. Despite the sea of flowers one encounters there, most of those flowers are gone within three weeks, so if you are a latenik in getting your flowers out, as I sometimes am, you could pay with a limited selection or worse--be forced to buy your flowers at KMart.(Yes, I've done that and it wasn't pretty.)


Farmstead has so many colors of verbena to choose from that my head begins to spin sometimes just taking it all in.

On the drive over, I considered what color theme I wanted this year. I thought I would stick with reds, yellows, blues, and a hint of pink (at least this week.)

When all was said and done, I picked Calliope Dark Red Geraniums for the thriller--the showiest part of the planter:

Thrillers--Geraniums. These flowers had a deep red color and a velvety texture, like a rose

For the filler part, or the flowers to provide shape and fullness to the arrangement, I chose this flower, which was called Bidy Gonzalez 2011:

Fillers': Gonzalez bidens. This annual is typically used for pots, patio, and baskets.

For the spillers, I chose Estrealla Voodoo Star Verbena and Silver Stream Lobularia, which also have filler qualities. You can also add a trailing vine like sweet potato or something in the ivy family. Depending on the planter's height, you can almost not have too many spillers. If you choose a vinca (the pink flower pictured below), besides color they add such pretty foliage--abundant shiny deep green leaves.

Spillers" verbena and lobularia. Verbena comes in so many lovely colors and blooms forever. I am a verbena NUT!

Time to get to work. I assembled the planters in the garage since storm clouds were brewing. Just as I finished the plants, the rain showers started, so I photographed them this morning for the blog.



Though I have lots more work to do outside--weeding, pruning, trimming--just seeing pretty planters around, harbingers of a summer sure to come--I feel happier and motivated to keep working! 

What do think? Ever try the thriller, filler, spiller method to filling pots and baskets?

Article originally appeared on Gale Martin | Clever Fiction for Clever Readers (http://galemartin.me/).
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