Desert Container Garden Design – Summer Success in Yellow

A winter container garden in the desert with Geraniums, Butterfly Iris, Vinca Major and Illuminations Vinca Minor

A winter container garden in the desert with Geraniums, Butterfly Iris, Vinca Major, and Illuminations Vinca Minor

Every Pot Has a Story – Summer Success in Yellow 

The photo above is in the backyard of one of my very first clients in Oro Valley, let’s call him Mr. N. He had a dozen or so containers, I don’t recall any were above 12” in diameter. He had a sitting wall, filled with these pots, unsuccessfully a sad attempt of a garden. He had just had irrigation put in the pots by a local professional irrigation company; a dedicated pot line. Yay!  

I remember hearing someone playing the piano in the background and discovered it was his wife. The music set a beautiful backdrop to our conversation.  

Mr. N was ready. Their yard was on the side of the house and he wanted masses of color added. He also wanted to add pots to their front entrance to welcome neighbors, friends and family. I don’t recall precisely how many pots we installed, but it had to be over a dozen, and most were 24” or larger.  

The installation day was perfect. We were starting from scratch with quality pots and soil, adding plants and flowers fresh from the nursery and a terrific irrigation system to add, which insured the new garden’s immediate survival! 

The opening picture was taken in April of the following year and illustrates a long, happy winter in Mr. N’s backyard. The front container is a 24” glazed pot on a stand and contains the starture plant, Butterfly Iris, red geraniums and trailing variegated Vinca Major on the left. The trailing plant on the front right side is another Vinca –Illumination,’ Vinca Minor with bright gold leaves edged in green with soft blue flowers (not in bloom now). Illumination is one of my favorite shade trailing plants, grown for the foliage more than flowers.  

I usually use Vinca ‘Minor’ for shade trailers, but in this pot, I used the ‘Major’ variety, which is a more vigorous grower and it grows more quickly when compared to its ‘minor’ counterpart. 

The pot on the stand, in the background to the right, is a 32” pot filled with various shades of Pansies in yellow and blue.  

Five Years Go By 

Yellow and Orange in a Desert Container Garden by the Potted Desert

Five Years Later A field of yellow and orange in a desert container garden

We continued to plant and care for Mr. N’s pots over the years. I always change the design, so no one gets bored (including me!) and using new varieties as they come out.  

Very unexpectedly, we got a call that Mr. N had died. We made sure the flowers were well taken care of and after a few weeks had passed, I called Mrs. N to see what she wanted to do. She was rarely involved in the garden except in her piano serenades. I did not think she would want to keep the service.  

Never assume! Mrs. N not only wanted to continue, but she was firm in her desire for yellow. I asked if she would like a contrasting color and she replied, “Sure, you have always done a good job. As long as I see a lot of yellow, I will be happy!” As you can see from the picture below, we did just what she asked and created her yellow garden. 

This row of pots includes yellow Marigolds, Strawberry Fields Gomphrena, Dreamland Yellow Zinnia, and Orange and Fire Profusion Zinnia. The picture was taken in October and the garden had been planted at the start of the summer. in May.  The health and vibrance of these pots demonstrate what good care, a proper irrigation system and a little love will do for your desert potted summer garden. 

Marylee Pangman

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