The joys of my life include my husband, my children and container gardening!  Not always in that order.  When I’m at the potting bench I feel like Danny Zuko.  He once said something about chills and multiplying and electrifying.  That’s me at the potting bench, except with soil in my hair instead of grease.

At Tonkadale, we are well known for our presentation of container gardens for each season.  Our seasonal arbor (the place where we merchandise and display said containers) is always current and suggestive of what you should be doing in your home and garden.  We are a design-driven kind of place, presenting an assortment of everyday products with seasonal touches that tell an identifiable color story.

Container gardening is color. It’s lifestyle. It’s gatherings and community.  And guess what?  When you plant a container, you get a fresh start each and every time.

Start with your housing.  What do these materials look like?  Glazed containers are the standard, but what about handsome lightweight containers – fiber-stone, cement, mixed metals, urns with various silhouettes, baskets?  Go big or go home.  Your container should be systematic, hydromatic and ultramatic!  Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap clap…

Tonkadale is the kings and queens of drop-in containers.  Instead of planting directly in your pots, plant in lightweight containers like those offered by Bloem.  Drop-in containers slip into your standard-sized pots.  Drop-ins promote seasonal change-outs and will cue you to change out their potting soil each season.  Fresh is always best.

Foliage first!  Foliage is the backbone of all containers.  In case you haven’t noticed, houseplants, especially succulents and cacti, are trending.  These beasties are born to hand jive!  Sorry folks, it’s not just coleus and potato vine anymore.  Foliage adds stability, structure, physical weight and visual depth, among other things like texture and various leaf coloration to your containers.  Blooms come and go, but foliage never fades.

Today, we only have time to cover shade containers.  At Tonkadale, we have a signature shade recipe that never disappoints and can be adapted and expanded forever and ever amen.  Start with a begonia, a fern and an ivy.   Shade plant like this go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong (I had to look that one up!)  Think about what each element brings to the table.  You can brainstorm your answers now.  PAUSE.

Once you have these simple design elements down, you can really go anywhere with your containers.  A fern becomes an alocasia, an alocasia and a cordyline.  The begonia becomes a trio of a rex begonia, heimalis begoina and a non-stop begoina.  The ivy becomes a trailing colues or a tradescantia or a philodendron or all of the above.

Check out the recipes below.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of plant material, or the names or what is placed where.  I mostly plant my containers with the tallest item to the backish, leftish and my trailing items to the frontish, rightish.  These are technical directional terms used by the most savvy gardeners.

Gardening is a verb.  It is something you do over time.  Learn as you go.  Start small, revel in success and take on more as your confidence grows and grows and grows.  Lastly, don’t forget to use good quality potting soils and fertilizer.  You will be glad you did.

Happy planting.  Cheers to summa lovin’ your containers!