Garden Photo of the Day

Containers by Deanne Fortnam, Part 3

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Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

Here’s yet another great container design from Deanne Fortnam in New Hampshire. Believe me, she’s got dozens more! Of this one she says, “This medley of container plantings is part of a 35-foot-long container border and features one of my old ‘friends’, a lovely standard specimen of ‘Thompsonii’ flowering maple (Abutilon pictum ‘Thompsonii’, USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10), shown in the center of the photograph. This plant gets pruned, repotted and taken indoors under lights every winter and is now in its eighth year here. The base of the plant is softened with ‘Black Scallop’ bugleweed (Ajuga reptans ‘Black Scallop’, Zones 3-9), whose crinkled, purple leaves make a great contrast with the chartreuse leaves of the flowering maple. Directly above and behind the flowering maple is a lovely elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta cv., Zones 8-11). Going counter-clockwise from there is ‘Pretoria’ canna (Canna ‘Pretoria’, Zones 8-11), whose chartreuse variegation and orange flowers coordinate with the colors of the flowering maple, and whose leaf shape provides contrast.  Below this is Canna ‘Pink Sunburst’ (Zones 8-11), and at the bottom center is a containerized specimen of ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ lavender (Lavandula ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’, Zones 7-10) that has also been in my collection for many years. On the right are a few coleus: ‘Trailing Salamander’, ‘El Brighto’ and ‘Amazon’.” Thanks, Deanne!

See one more container design from Deanne’s garden…

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  1. arboretum 01/27/2011

    deann, another great one! I don't think I have ever seen an abutilon that dense; how do you achieve that? when you overwinter them (by windows, yes?) do you whack them back when you bring them in for the winter? other whacking as well during the year?what is your fertilizer and its %, frequency,and period of application?
    thanks so much for the inspiration and continued education,

  2. LakeLivingMary 01/27/2011

    Love the Abutilon. Do you have a source for this maple? Your mix in containers is fabulous! Thanks!

  3. michgardner 01/27/2011

    Deanne has a Web Page on which she sells decorative art items, which also has a link to photos of her entire container garden. You should definitely check it out! As an avid container gardener myself, I plan on using some of her combos in my containers this spring.

    I also overwinter a lot of plants in containers that I would never be able to enjoy in my zone 5b garden, but Deanne's flowering maple is stunning...truly a labor of love.

  4. sheilaschultz 01/27/2011

    Love this series of photos, Michelle. Can't wait to see what combos you put together for 2011, Deanne!

  5. Deanneart 01/27/2011

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

    LakeLivingMary, I trained that Abutilon to a standard form over the last eight years. You can get a baby plant from Avant Gardens and other mail order nurseries. I’ve seen them for sale here in local nurseries as young standards from time to time as well.

    Mindy, yes I do a LOT of pruning on all my abutilons. When I bring them in during October I prune back the top growth by 2/3rds and strip off all the leaves. I let them sit on shelves in the garage until December when the temperatures in there will start to drop below 40 or so. Then I bring them indoors to the lights in the basement and resume watering. The lights are on 14 hours a day and I use full spectrum bulbs. When the plants begin growing again I prune back every lead to the first full leaf. I continue to do this throughout the winter. The really gigantic Abutilons like ‘Souvenir de Bonne’ and ‘Voodoo’ I prune back to two feet or so and do everything else the same. Feeding is dependent on the time of the year. I do not feed until there is six inches or more of new growth on the plants under the lights. I use a variety of liquid fertilizers such as AlgoFlash, Maxsea, Peters, MiracleGro etc. at half strength. In winter they only get a feeding if the leaves start yellowing and looking like they need it. In summer they get a liquid feed at half strength when planted then two weeks later. After they are established and growing well I do a once a week liquid feed at half strength and adjust that up or down depending on how the plants are doing. I rotate the brand of food throughout the season.


  6. arboretum 01/27/2011

    holy cow, deann, i thinks youse is a chemist AND an ahtist!
    thank you again,

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