Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Middle South
February, 2004
Regional Report

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Flanked by herbs and framed with stone, a planter filled with coleus held court on my deck all last summer.

Of Decks and Patios

Of all the gardens I keep, the one I enjoy most has sliding glass doors as its gate. My deckscape, which might be a patio-scape at your house, includes all the elements of a great garden: flavor, fragrance, and visual beauty. But the best part of this garden is its flexibility. When I get tired of the scene, moving plants around to create a fresh new look takes less than a half hour.

Deckscape Essentials
Culinary herbs, such as chives, thyme, and marjoram, are permanent residents on my deck, which keeps them only a few steps from the kitchen. They double as texture and fragrance plants, too. Crushing a bit of rosemary perfumes the air with its bold scent. And though I don't eat leaves from scented geraniums, I keep one on my deck for the magic aroma that comes when I swish my hand through the foliage.

Next in importance are the color plants like coleus, geraniums, begonias, and New Guinea impatiens. With these I choose a dominant color, such as pink. For contrast, I include a coleus with yellow or chartreuse in its leaves. I also keep some red salvias and icy lavender 'Tidal Wave Silver' petunias in pots in my side yard. These I bring to the deck when they are at their peak, or when one of the anchor plants needs to be sheared back and sidelined for a while.

In addition to plants, I keep a small collection of flags and banners that wave from a wooden pole. These I change with the seasons or with my mood. Finally, my deck often includes little rockscapes, water bowls, mirrors, or other whimsical accents that are easily rearranged.

Practical Matters
Plastic pots and planters are lightweight and retain water well, so almost all of my deckscape plants are in plastic pots. And because containers dry out quickly on hot days, I keep a watering can filled with water within easy reach.

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