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Summer's End Container

The end of summer is the perfect time to put together a potted garden that will help you make the transition into fall. Many summer annuals are still available and often at rock bottom prices. It's a good time to wander through your favorite garden center to see what is available. As autumn gets underway you can refresh your container by adding cool weather favorites such as violas, snapdragons and chrysanthemums.

For this design I combined summer blooms and foliage with a colorful ornamental pepper plant to create a palette that was reminiscent of autumn. I knew I would also want to add some violas when they become available in the garden center in a few weeks, so I left a pocket of space in the container to plant them later.

A wire basket lined with moss served as my container. I find moss lined baskets to be a nice touch in the garden and it is a simple process to line and plant them. I used a somewhat small basket because I wanted to place this arrangement on an outdoor table. The basket is about 8 inches tall and 13 inches in diameter.

I like to use sheet moss to line the basket because it is a nice green color and has a soft texture. You can find sheet moss at a hobby store or floral supply shop.

Begin by soaking the sheet moss in a bucket of water. It doesn't need to soak long, about 15 minutes will do. The water will refresh the moss and also make it easier to work with.

Next lay the pieces of moss inside the basket; gently push them through the openings. Overlap the pieces to create a thick layer.

To hold the soil in place cut a piece of plastic bag to fit inside the basket. Poke a couple of holes in the bottom for drainage.

Now you are ready to fill the basket with bagged potting soil. I like to use Pro-Mix Ultimate Container Mix, which has water retentive polymers and slow-release fertilizer already mixed in.

Fill the basket up to about half way with soil and you are ready to start adding plants. Once the plants are in place, add more soil around them and tamp the soil firmly. The top of the soil line should be 1 or 2 inches from the lip, so when you water, it will pool without spilling over the sides.

I created this design knowing that the material would not have a full growing season to mature. So I really packed in the plants for instant impact. Don't be afraid to use a lot of plants. After all fall is our last chance to create a big splash of color in the garden before winter sets in.

Plant List:
4 Orange Zinnias (3" Pots)
3 Variegated Liriope (3" Pots)
2 Mealy Cup Sage (quart)
6 plugs Dark Blue Violas (6 pack)
1 Coleus (quart)
2 Red Missile Peppers (quart)