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Hot Pots
geraniums around it and vinca hanging over the edge. You can achieve height with
tropicals like elephant ears. Experiment with the great variety of coleus that’s readily
available. Sun tolerant fuschia and verbena add a great pop of color.
The best part of container gardening is that it’s only for a season. Learn from
Container Gardening
your mistakes and make notes for next year. And remember that if you want to help
support Long Island’s economy, Suffolk County is one of the leading growers of
By Lois Howe
ornamental plants in the country. If you have to stay home this summer do it with
No one wants to read another article that begins “In these tough economic
style. With a little bit of effort you can make your pool or patio area look like a little
times…” But, truth be told, as the warm weather approaches (finally!) most ho -
bit of paradise.
meowners will have to prioritize some of their spending. Do we still want the
lawn treated four times this year, can we handle the weekly mowing and weeding
Lois Howe, with friend Laura McKenna [whose favorite brother-in-law is the Editor
ourselves? But as the budgeted amount we have to spend on vacations disappears
of this great publication], are the founders of Hot Pots, a container gardening com-
before our eyes what better place to spend a little cash than on our outdoor living
pany based in Nissequogue, NY.
One of the best compliments Hot Pots ever received was from the husband of
one of our clients. He told us how much he loved coming home from a hard day at
the office and walking past the two beautifully planted containers that greeted him by
his front door. It meant he was home and he could finally relax.
Of Woods and Water
We like to think of container gardening as “outdoor decorating.” Flower pots
Nature and Sport Around the North Shore
arranged artfully on a patio, porch, deck or entryway can create the feeling of being
in an outdoor room. Experiment with the wild colors of plants like lime green sweet Dan Stahl
potato vine or Lantana Radiation. Color has been shown to elevate one’s mood and
create a general sense of feeling happy. And foliage can soften the hard edges of a
patio or deck.
Taking the first step in designing your own plant combinations can be a little
Planting a Seed in Our Children
intimidating. A trip to the nursery or home center leaves some people paralyzed.
Where do I begin? There are a couple of mistakes that most people make, but are
to Plant a Seed in the Ground
My kids enjoy getting dirty, and gardening is a great way for them to do just
that. I’ll go to the local nursery and grab a dozen assorted tomato plants, some great
herbs for cooking, e.g., dill, coriander, basil and parsley, I’ll give the kids a wheel-
barrow full of soil and a trowel and they have a blast. I then sit back and watch them
all grow, especially my kids. The three younger ones are still in need of pruning;
they are 7, 8 and 10 and growing like weeds, or I would rather say flowering trees.
My oldest boy, 19, has just topped me in height at about 6’3”. His roots have not
quite settled into fertile ground, however, I would like to share a positive moment of
this roller coaster ride of parenthood: I just got back from setting him up in an apart-
ment in Lake Placid, N.Y., where we have decided to let him try another college.
Since we can’t abandon our kids and let them grow wild with no pruning, watering
or weeding, I supported this latest venture and he is now enrolled at North Country
Community College. What did he decide to embark upon? Outdoor Wilderness
Recreational Leadership. The nut sometimes doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I’ve always involved him in the outdoors, but when he hit about 14 or 15, that
interest got pushed aside to make room for the pain-in-the-ass teenager that made my
hair start to fall out (my participation in the cancer research fundraiser St. Baldrick’s
took care of the rest). So, it’s just good to know that the outdoor adventures I
involved him in made a positive impression. I also know that it’s still early in the
game and things change. Heck, I’m still changin’. He mentioned that some of the
outdoorsy types up there have this “16 points” quest: they actually set out to reach
the 16 highest points of the Adirondack High Peaks region. Now that is awesome.
Not only will he be getting an education in outdoor leadership, he may even reach
easily avoided. The first thing you should decide is where you want to put a contain-
beyond that and gain some memorable achievements. This will probably lead to me
er and what should the scale of it be. Almost everyone thinks too small. Tiny little
footing the bill for another tattoo, but if he can just stay focused on the task, it’ll be
pots will be lost down on the ground and will dry out in a flash. On a hot day do you
really want to water something twice a day to keep it alive? While enjoying a meal,
I know I’ve said this in past columns, but you just can’t go wrong if you can
al fresco, with friends you want to have your beautiful plants in view.
get your kids outside more, and here’s a reminder of a great website to support that
Next dilemma…what kind of container should I use? All weather materials are
the way to go. Plastic isn’t that aesthetically pleasing. Terra cotta and ceramic pots
Now back to our North Shore. I know we got that winter blast in early March,
can be beautiful but a hard frost will damage them. Cast stone, concrete, and cast
but that shouldn’t deter us from getting ready for spring. April and May bring out
iron can be planted and enjoyed for four seasons. If your entryway is used all year
so many opportunities. In the bays, the flounder will be following the scent of my
why not keep the welcoming look of seasonally planted containers there? Place
crushed mussels to hopefully dine on my sandworm presentation. In the Sound, usu-
appropriately sized containers where they can be best enjoyed and will more likely
ally no more than 100 yards from shore, close to a tidal rip or structure of some sort,
be regularly watered. One large pot with a great assortment of plants is better than a
I will be picking away at the striped bass. Once anchored up current of these areas, I
bunch of mismatched small pots.
will drop down a fresh piece of bunker (menhaden) rigged on a circle hook, tied to a
Plant selection is your next step. Where will your containers go? Your selec-
3” piece of 30 lb. fluorocarbon, tied to a barrel swivel with a 1-1 ½ ounce egg sinker
tions will differ depending on the amount of light your plants will receive. It’s
on my main line. Leave the reel in free spool with the clicker on and when they
tempting to just pick what appeals to us regardless of their sunlight needs. We’ve
grab it, let them run. After about 10-15 seconds of that bass taking line off the reel,
all been suckered into a showy plant that doesn’t really fit the bill and the result is
start cranking. Circle hooks do not need to be “set”, just reel. If you use a “J” hook,
that it doesn’t flourish and may not even survive longer than a couple of weeks. A
that’s when you give it a good jerk. After all, fishing is just a jerk on one end of the
shady spot that calls for ferns and caladiums won’t work for geraniums or scaevola.
line waiting for a jerk on the other.
And how many plants should you put in one container? It’s usually better to err on
One other adventure I’m sure to have this spring will be a walk in the woods.
the side of too many rather than too few. Yes, they will fill in, but if the pot starts
I’ll round up some kids, either my own or some Cub Scouts, and take to the trails.
out looking full and lush you can appreciate it from day one. Vigorous growers can
With them I’ll be sure to bring along a little “push button” fishing outfit. When the
always be trimmed back.
trails lead us to a pond or lake, we’ll turn over a log or dig around some leaves and
Bottom line-pick what you love. Whatever color or foliage shape you choose,
find a worm to slip onto a small hook and bobber rig. Usually you can catch a blue-
Mother Nature has a way of making it all work together. Just be sure the scale of
gill or ten, which just adds to the North Shore outdoor adventure. Who knows, you
the plants is right for the pot. That doesn’t mean the typical spike in the middle with
might just plant a seed.
Improper Northshoerian April 20033 33 4/2/2009 10:27:30 AM
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