|Planting the "thriller"|
|Planted tub nearing completion|
Recently, during Maifest in the Amanas, I was asked to give a presentation on flowers grown in the old communal Amana Society. The highlight of the presentation was the planting of an old washtub with traditional Amana flower varieties.
The general convention for arranging any planting in a pot requires:
For the thriller, I chose a pink double Knock Out Rose. Old passalong roses were very popular in communal Amana, so I wanted to represent them in the planting. The problem with those roses is that they are far too large and rangy to be used in a pot. What's more, most of them bloom for a relatively short period in spring, so using them as a thriller would require constant pruning and no flowers for the rest of the season.
Enter the Knock Out Rose. It blooms from spring through fall, grows to a mature height of only three feet, isn't bothered by blackspot or other rose diseases, and at season's end can be planted in the garden to enjoy for many years to come.
For the filler, I chose a geranium. Geraniums (pelargoniums) were also very popular in Old Amana. They decorated windowsills in the wintertime and were planted out in beds during the growing season. If the gardener had lots of geraniums (they root very easily as cuttings), he or she might choose to winter some or all of them bare root in paper sacks in unheated basements where the temperature didn't drop to freezing.
|Main entrance to our gardens (note potted double red Knock Out)|
The spiller, I decided, would be alyssum. I chose it because it is an old garden annual (again, quite popular in Old Amana) that is being rediscovered by modern gardeners. It has several qualities to recommend it. It makes an ideal spiller because it will cascade over the edge of the tub without reaching the ground and running wild or being nipped by a passing lawnmower. It also mounds somewhat, hiding the legginess that may develop on geranium stems later in the season. Alyssum imparts a great fragrance that can perfume a whole garden bed with just a few plants. It also self sows, which is a quality that was much appreciated by gardeners of old.
Whether you're new to pot culture or an old hand at it, give Knock Out roses a try. They're also quite stunning in a pot all by themselves and come in red and yellow, too. You will have the advantage of moving the rose around to wherever it will receive the best light or look the best in your gardening scheme.