I've been going through bags of potting soil like mad this week. I've always considered container gardening a poor substitute for in-ground gardening, but looking through garden design magazines does highlight one benefit containers have, which is a sort of architecture for the large planted bed. And since I'm all about architecture, I'm working on getting some containers into my garden.

This is my last remaining project (waiting for more potting soil to be purchased): the blueberries, which need repotting. I've tried growing blueberries in the ground, but for some reason they tempt the dogs to a kind of misbehaviour they have rarely exhibited, which is pulling an entire bush out of the ground. I can't explain it, but somehow blueberry bushes make them insane. They've never done this to anything else, and they leave the ones in pots alone. In the ground, though? Canine insanity.

So I gave in, and I'm going to grow the darned things in pots. Fine, you stupid dogs. But now they need repotting up to a larger pot, because blueberries don't stay small forever. They're going to get a 24-30 inch pot when they are at full size, but I'm working them up slowly to encourage compact root growth. So I got them these cheap plastic nursery pots from Home Depot.

Blueberries awaiting repotting

This was my big repotting/potting extravaganza this weekend. I had an empty strawberry pot (which was just too small for my extra-aggressive strawberries), a succulent planter that had just gotten lame after a freeze killed two of the plants in it, plus several succulents I bought at Annie's and a rare plant purchased there that I wanted to put in a pot.

Much succulent repotting

This is that rare plant. It's Lapeirousia oreogena, and in order to buy it I had to do mail-order from Annie's, which I have never done before. It's kind of funny, I buy tons of plants from them and yet when people ask me what their shipping is like, I have no idea. Well, now I do. I was very impressed by the way they pack their plants. I ordered just this one plant, and they "filled the box" by sending along three other unsolicited plants (one of which was a duplicate of a plant I've already got, but I'm fine with that). The plants were packed very carefully and held secure in a nice cardboard stabilizer. Granted, they only had to come 30 minutes down the freeway, but they did so via UPS, which is always taking your life into your own hands.

Anyway, they suggest putting it in a pot, so I did. This pot held a dead oregano, from my brief foray into thinking of having a container garden of herbs.

Lapeirousia oreogena

The pot was purchased at Aw Pottery in Oakland. I'm quite fond of them, because in addition to the usual fake Italian style pots, they also have many modern styles. You will see pots from them all over my garden.

Then I put some of the new and some of the old succulents into the strawberry pot. Some of these are going to grow quite large and I am sure I will regret potting them all together in there sooner than I would hope, but I'm kind of at a loss for what else I would plant in there.

Succulents in the strawberry pot

At the top there we have Greenovia diplocycla var. gigantea, which will surely overgrow the top of this container. It does have a large, ridiculous-looking flower, which is unlikely to happen too soon. On the right is Graptopetalum paraguayense 'Pinky' The other two plants are a little hens-n-chicks type plant found in a discount rack and improperly marked, and one of the random succulents in the old pot, also unmarked. Yes, I did rinse the poor plants down after I took this photo.

And the former mixed succulent pot I planted with Aeonium spathulatum var. cruentum (link not to Annie's because this plant is inexplicably missing from their catalog -- another reason to shop there in person rather than by mail-order, if you can). I put it in a large pot by itself because the sample they had potted up in the nursery was large and amazing in a pot about this size.

Aeonium spathulatum var. cruentum

And yes, that's another pot from Aw Pottery.

Finally, I had this variety of ice plant, also unidentified. It's thrived in the large pot but is not quite decorative enough to merit such a large and prominent position in the garden. While I considered how and where to repot it, Joan and Liza gave it an inspection for snails (oh, yes, it also is almost always full of snails).

Odd ice plant being pecked

Eventually I just stuffed it in a clay pot. I may repot it into something wide and low, but for now this will do. I feel bad for not liking this plant more, but it was the most boring of the succulents in the mix that I planted in that large pot.

Potted up in a plain pot

And then yesterday right before they closed, Noel and I made a trip to Aw Pottery to get some large pots. Like most importers, Aw Pottery is totally stuffed with inventory right now, so we got 15% off retail. And many of the smaller pots, right around 1-gallon size, were 2-for-1. I'm sure I could get a better deal, but I like this business and the people who work there, while distinctly weird, are really great. So that's my pitch for Aw Pottery. These are the three large pots we got for out front:

Large pots from Aw Pottery

I planted them with the tulip bulbs I bought on our autumn trip to Amsterdam, so they're going to look a little bare until the bulbs realize that it's warm enough to sprout. I'm going to go out and clear out much of the Bermuda grass that is choking up that sidewalk, and the pile of rocks you can't quite see behind one of the containers, and that should neaten the front up a bit.

I should also divide and move those irises from the pot to somewhere in the ground. And the lavenders need to be beaten back with a stick, at the least. There's always more work to do than there is time, no?

Anyway, let me leave you with a couple of pictures of spring, for those of you who are either blanketed in snow or engulfed in flames. Here's a crocus (the first of the season to open):

Crocus bloom

And the Heliophila longifolia going nuts:

Heliophila longifolia

That's the best argument ever for planting that guy in the fall.

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posted by ayse on 02/10/09