The Old Town community of North Columbus (Ga.) Is once again teaching us how to use horse troughs for the color of the cool season, and they are maximizing the use of texture this year. Ever since I retired from the University of Georgia, my son, James, the color design guru of the Old Town, has been involved with me, and I feel like this is my pilot station.
In early October, when he planted, I thought he had pushed the proverbial envelope over the abyss. These sunny containers contain annual, perennial plants, deciduous shrubs, succulents, and plants that need shade. Find out first: although I’m talking about an old-fashioned horse trough, you can do the same in your favorite pots.
Let’s review the recipe, concepts and thoughts of the old proverb thriller, filler and spiller. While it’s amazingly beautiful now in November, the crescendo brought about by the March and April graduations will be like the finale of a fireworks display.
The tallest plants in the thriller, or troughs, are the deciduous Double Play Candy Corn spirea. These have become favorites in southern countries with their corn-colored foliage. I suspect the Proven Winners really did expect Zone 7, but we also love them in Zones 8 and 9. Though they are now dazzling, they will later disappear and return in all their glory. They never notice them retreating into the straws as the other companions begin to grow and cover the twigs.
The winter sun is magical; allows you to use blinds that are even more dazzling when they come to light. That’s why I wanted to tell you about the fillers before the spills. In the south, heucheras, also known as coral bells, really work best when they get afternoon shade protection. But it’s summer. In winter, these evergreen perennials are simply amazing.
Our designer used Dolce Cherry Truffles and Dolce Wildberry. Dark reddish-burgundy and purple foliage contrasts with or complements the spirea and all other plants in the troughs. In spring, the cherry truffle has red flowers and the wild berry has white flowers.
Another shade lover in the troughs is the Queen of Hearts brunnera. These silver-green variegated heart-shaped leaves stand out in the blend not only in color but also in their characteristic leaf shape. They will have baby blue flowers in the spring.
Never underestimate the strength of the fine leaf structure provided by grass. The troughs feature strategically placed Evergold carex grass. The thinly variegated leaf discs give a special, colorful spider-like touch while giving an artistic effect.
Two nozzles were used in the troughs. The first is Lemon Coral sedum, with its succulent foliage that gently slips over the rim like a slow chartreuse-colored lava flow. The last stuff everyone is looking forward to this season is the Cool Wave Yellow Pansies. These flowers offer a view that extends almost 3 meters high.
Here, in Zone 8a, I touched on the gentleness aspect of the winter sun, but no doubt some of you think they can’t grow these plants because of their soil. Remember, these grow in bio-based pots that you will use as well. During this period of the cool season, you can avoid strict soil pH requirements.
James ’son will pull these plants for summer plant metabolism. I will hopefully notice it and be there on behalf of The Garden Guy Plant Rescue Service to relocate those who need shade or a morning sun to a new location.
In the cool season, container gardening is so enjoyable in the south, and even more so if you can use a farm-sized trough.
Norman Winter, gardener, garden performer and author of the books “Hard Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden”. Follow him on Facebook: @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.