Garden Photo of the Day

Containers that Delight

These are mixed perennial and annual containers by our backdoor which receive partial shade. Begonias are always a summer container favorite in our garden. 

It's hard to contain our excitement for Cherry Ong's containers – lovely, just lovely!

"We're all waiting for our current containers to grow in but before starting out this year's batch, I try to take time out to review last year's containers to figure out what worked and what didn't.  Everyone's got their favorites and succulents seem to be in the mix more and more.  This year, I've tried to include edibles in the mix and also matched up hard edgy succulents with soft leafy perennials and floriferous annuals for a new look.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that they grow beautifully through the summer. Anyway, here are last year's offerings:"

Coming around the first photo, there is a boat of herbs and a container with sunny and bright Thuja Forever Goldie, a salmon colored begonia and blackie sweet potato vine. 

On the other end of the backyard sits this large orange themed container with Corylus avellana Red Majestic, Sedona and Freckles Coleus, Bergenia, Coprosma, Heuchera and 2 kinds of Calibrachoa. She turned out much more than what I had planned for which was the nicest surprise ever. 

This is the side of the same container in the previous photo.

No garden is complete without Cotinus and here she is married with Dusty Miller, Glennis coleus, Carex oshimensis Everillo and Lemon Slice Superbells. 

One of my few succulent pedestal containers with Agave Frosty Blue and a variety of echeverias, crassulae and sedum. The driftwood was a local beach find. 

A second succulent bowl filled with various succulents, Blue chalk sticks, Ogon sedum and sea shells (which were covered up as the succulents grew through the season). 

Our sun loving all annuals hanging basket filled with varying shades of purple and green.  This was quite a memorable one as we had our very first hummer sighting on this basket last year. 

One of our shade loving hanging baskets with an all-time favorite spiller Frosty Knight Allysum.  Tuberous begonia, Lemon licorice, Polka dot plant and Lysimachia punctata 'Alexander' fill the crown. 

A simpler hanging basket palette of blue and chartreuse with Lobelia erinus Laguna Sky Blue taking center stage. 

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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/17/2015

    Oh, my goodness, Cherry, I am positively bewitched, beguiled and bedazzled by your wondrous container combinations. Each one is such a showstopper in its own way. The colors are so vibrant and play off each other so well. Ha, you should see me...I type a few words and then I can't help myself but go back up for another scroll and just lose myself in sincere admiration for how creative and gifted you are. Well, I'm off for another scroll and linger. Thanks so much for sharing these. You really are amazing!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      I'm blushing Michaele - many thanks. I miss your garden posts very much! Whimy and fun are the most memorable qualities of your containers and gardens. Please please send /post some photos very soon.

  2. user-1020932 07/17/2015

    Cherry, you are the queen of containers and baskets . always your container creations knock my socks off. all are GREAT but of course, i'm drawn to your succulent creations and especially the Agave. you knocked it out of the park again this year

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thanks Jeff. I really appreciate your support! I wish I can grow all the rare plants like yours.... I am always drooling after your garden/containers are featured.

  3. user-4691082 07/17/2015

    Oh Cherry, I am doing containers for my sons wedding in September but I wish you were nearby to help me.... I too am enamored by the lobelia. Begonias do well for me so I am going with them. Do you teach local classes? If not, you should!!!!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thank you Rhonda. I am always learning especially from FG and GPOD gods and goddesses, mainly self-taught and never teach. I do help friends with their containers and gardens now (for free) that my place is full and maturing with age. How are away are you? I've received feedback from many that lobelia doesn't thrive in the hot and humid. This year, the same lobelia has not nearly reached the same length and size due to the arrival and stay of a hot humid summer which is unusual for us here in the Pacific Northwest.

  4. NCYarden 07/17/2015

    Geez, Cherry. What amazing containers and arrangements! I especially like the green and purple/blue comba-jombas...those colors just complement so well and are so exciting to look upon. I'm blown away by all of the containers though. How often do you repot & root prune the contorted filbert?
    And on a side note (and I suppose thorn in my side), don't think I don't see all those awesome full Hakone grass sprays exploding in the background. Argh!
    Thanks as always for sharing.

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thanks David. I repot the contorted filbert yearly. Some of my perennials in containers are not repotted until two to three years later. Sometimes all they need to cut the rootball down by 1/3 in the Spring and they come back happy and healthy. I try to renew the top third of the potting soil in my containers every Spring. You can use Sea Soil on the top in place of potting soil - the plants seem to love it.
      I love Hakone grass! Can't get enough of it and they are one of the most maintenance free perennial container specimens that I have. I hope you have been successful in growing them in your garden especially with your awesome Japanese maples.
      Would love to see your garden in the summer. I hope Susan can make this wish happen. Regards.

  5. greengenes 07/17/2015

    Okay now! Winner winner for sure to any hanging basket display contest! Every one of them is beautiful and the texture and contrast is perfect. How inviting are the placements and color! You are an exceptional designer, Cherry!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thanks Jeanne. The baskets were a gift from family on Mother's Day and one from a good friend for helping her out in the garden. I cherish them every year!

  6. VikkiVA 07/17/2015

    Oh my, my, my - truly beautiful compositions. I struggle to get my container plantings to look half as good as yours do. I love each one and I'm really drawn to your succulents, especially the container with the Blue Chalk sticks and Ogon sedum. What is the name of the ruffled plants (3 different colors?) in that same container? Thank you for sharing your amazing talent. Vikki in VA

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thank you Vicki. I'm sorry but those echeveria (ruffled plants in three different colors) did not come with plant tags. Somehow there are very few places that sell them with the appropriate name, but tell you what, I will post photos to the Succulent Fanatics group and ask for their help to ID and then get back to you.
      VA is an ideal place to grow succulents so I hope you are able to enjoy this opportunity!

    2. perenniallycrazy 07/19/2015

      Good morning VikkiB. Though not 100% certain, here are the suggested names of the frilly edged echeverias. This green one may be Echeveria Lotus.

    3. perenniallycrazy 07/19/2015

      This purple one may be Echeveria Afterglow or Ruffles.

    4. perenniallycrazy 07/19/2015

      This last one may be Echeveria Curlylocks.

  7. LilyJacobi 07/17/2015

    so lovely! Thank you for sharing! The first and second photo, especially, are my favprites!

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/17/2015

    Cherry, you are a superstar! I can hardly hold back the impolite expletives in my attempts to express my amazement. I echo every single comment so far. Stun-ning! I'll be flying in to pick up my two favorites: the succulent container with Frosty Blue and the fabulous shade container with the alyssum and pale tuberous begonia. Those subtle, pale colors with the pop of the dark polka-dot plant light up my life!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thanks Tim. Frosty Blue is quite the vigorous grower. It has completely taken over that same pot this year to my amazement. I am afraid that I may not be able to find a large enough container to house it next year.
      As for the hanging basket, I was unsure that the combo worked midseason but that basket lasted the longest and into the fall months. Polka dot plants make great additions to summer containers and hanging baskets I find.

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/17/2015

    Hey everybody! Don't forget to send in your submissions for the GPOD lustrous silver container challenge! No judging or winners: just fun and inspiration. Susan will post the submissions some time in August. If you can get your photos to me by the end of the moth (or thereabouts), I'll assemble and submit to GPOD. If you don't have a container that exactly meets the criteria: cheat and send me something anyway! Email your photo to [email protected]. The full details are in this GPOD post:

    1. user-7007140 07/17/2015

      Great! I was wondering if that was going ahead. Thank you for the reminder.

  10. sheila_schultz 07/17/2015

    Cherry... as I have always told you, you are an outstanding container designer. Your eye for possibilities with texture and color combinations continues to expand. These containers are just beautiful, and I can't wait to see what you have put together for your 2015 pots!!!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Sometimes I think it is anti-climactic for some of us who already share our photos on FB... How is your garden Sheila? Hope your containers are taking off. I am always excited to see your work.

      1. sheila_schultz 07/17/2015

        Thanks, Cherry! My gardens are just okay this year, as you know there's always tweaking to be done, but they have enjoyed all of our drought-ending rain! My own containers are still in the process of being planted. We had 6 weeks of non-stop rain and never-ending hail so it was all we could do to take care of our clients... and a lot of their plants got shredded ;( The hail seems to have finally ended (I'm whispering this) and the sun and heat have finally arrived, so fingers crossed my container plants will mature before everything has to come inside in Sep!

        1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

          Fingers and toes crossed over here too!
          Hail's a big garden buster in Denver, ain't it? How's Laurel's garden? I wonder if you garden together at home too?

          1. sheila_schultz 07/17/2015

            Hail in June is not unusual, but this year it seemed to be non-stop. The Denver Botanic Garden got slammed this year with 2" diameter hail, not once but twice. So sad to see. Laurel's gardening has been kind of non-existent this year since she was out of town a lot in June and the first half of July. Fortunately, it was a good year to miss.

        2. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/17/2015

          I've got tears in my eyes thinking about your clients' containers. What do you do? Replant for them? Do you supply hail insurance or some kind of exclusion clause in your contracts? I made it to Eddi's gardening group garden tour with no hail damage, and one of the few days we've had with no rain. I do have some new areas into which I can install some bog gardens, however......

          1. sheila_schultz 07/17/2015

            Hail is the major reason we can't guarantee plants once they are installed. I'm glued to weather forecasts during planting season and we try our best to do our installs once the hail has stopped for the season, but this year that was impossible. I just got back from checking a client's containers. She was supposed to have a magazine photo shoot in a couple of weeks... it will require a redo on almost all of her containers to make that happen.
            So very happy Eddi's gardening group had a beautiful day for their tour ;) Lucky them!!! Hmmm... a bog garden. Now THAT would be a fun design challenge!

          2. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

            Oh no! Your poor client. I guess she gets bumped up on your priority list.

            What do the nurseries do to protect their plants? House them all?

          3. sheila_schultz 07/18/2015

            Most nurseries cover their plants to the best of their ability, but with 1"- 2" hail, if the plants are outside and uncovered, they get shattered. They also have to have good insurance coverage. One of our big wholesalers went under a couple of years ago because of 2 years in a row of big hail.

          4. user-7007140 07/17/2015

            We all felt grateful for the kind weather on previous days. As we are all gardeners we know,how much it mattered. Gorgeous day.

          5. Cenepk10 07/19/2015

            Tim !!! It wasn't Stump the Chump !!!! You were correct ! But that's not the Texas perennial hibiscus my friend sent me the seeds ... It's a welcome volunteer or piggy backed in from who knows where !

          6. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/19/2015

            That is beautiful! It's in the Abelmoschus family, which includes Manihot and Okra. Growing anything like that? The flower looks quite large in the photo. How big is it really? I've never grown anything from that family: just some hardy hibiscus, which are closely related. in what zone are you gardening? Cheers, tim

          7. Cenepk10 07/19/2015

            Flower was about 5" across- it closed up this afternoon like the hibiscus tends to do- no- I wasn't growing any of that ... Guess it hitchhiked it on something - I'm in zone 7 b - 40 miles NE of Atlanta ;)

          8. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/19/2015

            Manihot at Annie's annuals. Musk okra looks pretty similar, too.

          9. Cenepk10 07/19/2015

            I kept telling my sister I thought it was okra - the stem was hairy ..

          10. Cenepk10 07/19/2015

            Indeed ! Abelmoschus manihot <<•••. That's what it is :) okra family ? I guess ! Thank you so much for your time & patience, Tim !

          11. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/20/2015

            fun requires no patience! cheers

        3. user-7007140 07/17/2015

          I can't imagine how you copenwith all that! I know, have an ice cream sundae topped with chocolate sauce!

          1. sheila_schultz 07/17/2015

            Now THAT'S what the Dr. ordered! Yum!

  11. GrannyMay 07/17/2015

    Super-gorgeous, Cherry! I went back and forth trying to choose a favourite and it is impossible, the orange-themed and the first succulent container are neck and neck for me! Love the photo of the herb boat with the begonia and sweetpotato vine in the background - great combinations!

  12. GrannyCC 07/17/2015

    Those are amazing Cherry. Everything is so full and healthy. What is your fertilizing routine? It must take hours to water especially this year.I have never seen lobelia so gorgeous. I find half way through the season it starts to look so sad and dies off so I cut it back and this helps somewhat. I see you have heavy chain for the hanging baskets I am sure you need it.

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thanks Catherine. I followed Jeff's advise of adding Osmocote slow release fertilizer to the containers and baskets and water deeply every 1-2 days depending on the heat. The watering routine is much longer this year due to the rain. The mosquitoes are happy to see me every time I might add. The routine is so much easier with a newer lighter hose hubby got me (Water Right). I have not had as much success with lobelia this year as last year due to the heat. Laguna Sky Blue is one of the more hardier lobelia I've worked with, the Riviera varieties don't seem to stand up to the heat or last as long in the summer at the Laguna Sky Blue. I had grown some white ones too (I forget the name) - they had a fantastic start but fizzled out a month later. Diamond Frost Euphorbia and Alyssium seem to be great alternatives for the soft look - no blue though if that is what you are after.
      The chains are an economical purchase at the local hardware. They cut them to the length you like (takes them down to my height which is short and a more comfortable watering and sightlevel for appreciation). They rust up pretty quickly which is a bonus feature. The S hooks were my souvenirs from a visit to Flora Grubb years back - they keep the baskets from turning.
      Nice talking to you! Regards.

      1. GrannyCC 07/17/2015

        Hi Cherry
        I do use Osmocote as well. Thanks for all the info on Lobelia I will keep that in mind for next year, Yes it is certainly hard to keep up on the watering here on Vancouver Island. Things are looking quite parched as I am sure you are finding,

  13. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

    Thank you Diane. My lobelia is not doing as well this year as we have hot a sizzling summer that began in May. Yes, there is a basil and other herbs in a black boat container right on the ground. They all look like separate containers at planting but at the end of the season, the delineation between the containers becomes quite fuzzy. I have no choice but to garden in containers now as I am out of ground space - also I find containers are like chocolate sauce on an ice cream sundae - it just takes everything up a notch. Hope you are having as much fun in the garden as the rest of us. Regards.

  14. User avater
    HelloFromMD 07/17/2015

    Wow, container magic! I am jealous of your lobelia! Do you live farther north of MD? It succumbs to summer heat here.

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thanks HellofromMD. I'm in Vancouver, BC where we are experiencing a sizzling hot and long summer this year. My lobelia have not grown nearly as much as last year's Oh well... Maybe you'll have better luck now that the weather is cooler in your area. Happy gardening!

  15. user-4691082 07/17/2015

    Cherry, we are in the SE part of Pa in zone 6b. Hot and humid, though not as hot this year and lots of rain.

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Oh no, too far for me to drive there and help you. Sounds like you have similar weather/climate as Jeff and Tim, which means you can grow a lot of wondrous specimens that we don't have as much luck with here in the PNW. Feel free to join us on Facebook and we are happy group that will share all kinds of ideas and troubleshooting tips - we all learn from each other. You can find me under Cherry Ong (Perennially Crazy). Take care R.

  16. Meelianthus 07/17/2015

    Oh Cherry! Each of your creations looks like a delicious dessert, so beautiful ! I know you must have great enjoyment creating each one. Thanks for sharing your joy.

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/17/2015

      Thanks Linda. Joy and therapy, but not necessarily in that order (wink!).

  17. sheila_schultz 07/17/2015

    The GPOD container challenge... I echo Tim! YES, everybody please send in those photos!!! We can't wait to see your container gardens and be inspired by your endless creativity!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

      Heigh ho Silver!

  18. ILfarmersdaughter 07/17/2015

    Just so beautiful and all are so stunning.

  19. lesliefarrelldelongpre 07/17/2015

    Wow I love the containers. After looking at all the photos on this site I have tried to make more containers for this year. I struggle with how much to put in, at the beginning. Too much? too little? I will study yours thoroughly! Beauuuutiful!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

      Thank you Leslie. I looked through for some before photos in the hopes of giving you some ideas. Here are progression photos of the lobelia and coleus hanging basket from the initial planting. The first photo was taken right after planting (in May)

    2. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

      This photo was taken exactly a month later.There is only one annual in this hanging basket - the spurge.

    3. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

      For the containers in the first photo, here are progression photos. The first two are at initial planting and the 3rd photo a month later (herb pot was in another location at the time). There appears to be not as much spacing between the plants such that you cannot see the soil but they are not crammed tightly together.

      I think cramming works really well with succulents. I spaced them out farther when I worked with them the first time not realizing that they didn't grow as rapidly as annuals - perhaps the summer here does not provide as much heat as most elsewhere.

      For the perennial containers, I renew the top third of the potting soil every year, add osmocote slow-release granules. I have used sea soil as the toplayer too and the plants seem to enjoy it. I hope these can help you make beautiful containers and moreover, I look forward to your garden and containers being featured here. Thanks for your time and kind words.

  20. user-7007140 07/17/2015

    Oh! My goodness, Cherry! Faced with your containers on yet another rainy day, I can only gaze in awe. They are all stunningly gorgeous, but my absolute favourite is the cotinus, Hakone grass and Dusty Miller plus,plus,plus.
    I hope you won't mind but I have five window boxes to design and plant up and I'm not doing anything without pictures of your containers to inspire me. Amazing. Thank you.

  21. ChrisSeattle 07/17/2015

    Cherry, these are all so lush and gorgeous, especially in a drought year! I love your enthusiasm and sharing with all of us. Thank you.

  22. Cenepk10 07/17/2015

    Oh come on... Is this for real ??? Kidding, Queen Cherry !!!!!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

      LOL... the Martha Effect?!

      1. Cenepk10 07/18/2015

        That was the most gracious reply you sent ! I think - I just give up too soon. I appreciate all of the great info ! Thank you so very much !

  23. Cenepk10 07/17/2015

    I oughta post a few of mine for contrast, lol ... Got a few beauts

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

      Look forward to seeing your garden and containers Cenepk10. Excited now...

      1. Cenepk10 07/18/2015

        Hon ... Your eyes would start burning in horror !!!! How in the world do you get all those plants in one pot ? Do you remove the dirt from each plant ? Or just shove them in there ? I haven't had much luck - except to use teeny plants - still - always a few casualties. For instance: Christmas cactus, fern, wandering jew, vinca, coleus, caladium. ( Fern turned to brown crisp - now there's a hole) plus- not much fullness - they seem to be stunted from the competition. Are you using huge pots ?

        1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

          I keep the perennials as is but dig around them and amend the soil. Sometimes I remove the perennials altogether and pot them up until they are ready to be returned/reused for the fall. The hanging baskets are around 16-18 inches in diameter while the containers are 18-22 inches wide. I do have small pots but they do dry out faster so I try to figure out the best location for them since I am unable to water more than once per day.

          If you are able to keep perennials in pots where you live, then perhaps you can plant annuals between them to change the look and remove the gaps.

          I find that ferns do not like to compete with other annuals - they're happier by themselves or mixed with other perennials. Generally, they are happier in the ground than in pots unlike hostas. I have totally no luck with caladiums - I tried 2 years in a row - and I won't be trying again from guilt. Same problem with colocasia.

          As for how the containers grow out, some never grow according to how you envision them while some exceed your expectations. Some plants do die out from competition with other plants. If you look at the hanging basket with the blue lobelia, you will notice that there is torenia (wishbone flower) planted in between the lobelia but somehow it never took off. In the container with the Corylus, there was a mustard color Hebe in the mix but it bit the dust (that's another shrub I have shakey results with - hebe).

          Sounds like you are in the same hardiness zone as Jeff, Michaele and Tim, I'm sure they will be happy to make suitable plant recommendations for you. Find us on FB and we can brainstorm together. Hope you see you there.

  24. nancyhowardthomas 07/17/2015

    So beautiful!

  25. ClareRocky 07/18/2015

    Cherry, your container plantings are amazing! I especially love that last one with the blue and chartreuse. Just fabulous!

  26. user-7007496 07/18/2015

    Absolutely breathtaking!!!!

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

      Thank you Kay.

      1. user-7007496 07/18/2015

        You are very welcome. I love flowers and gardening, but I am recovering from a long illness and have not been able to do much lately, but I did plant a pot of caladiums a few days ago. I have been living vicariously through the fine gardening site until I get more strength back. Your pots are just gorgeous.
        Subject: Re: Comment on Containers that Delight

        1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

          I'm so sorry to hear that. Please get well soon! I love caladiums but have been quite unsuccessful in growing them. Here's another container from last year that didn't get sent with this batch. Consider it my get well card to you! Take care.

          1. user-7007496 07/18/2015

            Thank you, love. I am on the mend now. The picture is lovely. Caladiums are shade lovers. The first ones I grew years ago as a house plant. At the time I didn't know that they die back in the fall so I thought I had killed them. I just think they are beautiful plants so I hope these do well. Hugs to you.

  27. thevioletfern 07/18/2015

    Amazing. You definitely are the queen of containers. Thank you so much for sharing your creative talents - they inspire.

    1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

      Thanks Kathy. Hope you are enjoying summer.

  28. [email protected] 07/18/2015

    awesome containers in the last picture. where did you get those?

    1. [email protected] 07/18/2015

      and I mean the actual containers, not the plants, although those are lovely also!

      1. perenniallycrazy 07/18/2015

        Thanks Jen. If you are referring to the rusty iron hanging basket frame, my family and friend got them from a nursery called Prickly Pear Garden Centre. I have seen similar ones on Amazon and Ebay and sometimes on Craigslist (yard sales). Happy gardening!

        1. [email protected] 07/20/2015

          Thanks PC!

  29. user-7007710 07/18/2015

    I love your colour combinations, especially the delicate white and peach container. Also love your succulents.

  30. Sagen 07/20/2015

    Hi Cherry! I'm new to your blog...I LOVE the Cotinus the contrast with the Dusty MIller! I've been doing planters as a small business for 11 years and haven't tried that one...yet! :) Thank you for the inspiration!

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