Gardening: Pavement, other hardscape can be ‘landscaped’ using plants in pots (Google / Mercury News / Los Gatos Weekly-Times)

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Gardening: Pavement, other hardscape can be ‘landscaped’ using plants in pots

By Tony Tomeo

for Los Gatos Weekly-Times

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// ]]>In my own garden, I prefer to grow everything in the ground. Pots and planters simply require a little more attention than I want to give them. To me, pots should be reserved mostly for houseplants and bonsai, which are both very different topics from potted plants in the garden. However, I have grown many potted plants in the garden for various reasons.

The main reason in the garden of my former residence is that there was so much pavement. It was all useful pavement, such as driveways and patio space, so none of it should have been removed. Yet, the portions of the large driveway that were not in use at the time were “landscaped” with large plants in large nursery cans. Corners of the patio were similarly landscaped, with nothing actually in the ground. The black vinyl cans were obscured and shaded (to keep them cool) by common iceplant that spilled out onto the pavement.

Each group of potted plants looked landscaped, but could be moved out of the way if more paved area was needed. I used large yuccas, dracaenas, New Zealand flax, agaves, cacti and some palms, including a 15-foot windmill palm, because they happened to be available, and actually suited the style of the “landscape.”

This technique can be done with all sorts of plants in more appealing pots and containers that do not need to be obscured. Thin plastic pots or metallic planters that get warm from direct exposure to sunlight may be more comfortable to the plants within if at least


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partially shaded by overhanging foliage toward the south and west.Such a landscape does not need to be very elaborate to be effective. Sometimes, only a few potted plants are enough to dress up a large patio, and can also be moved out of the way for entertaining. Potted plants can also be appealing on porches or balconies where there is no exposed soil.

There are other advantages to the portability of potted plants. Those that are sensitive to frost, such as banana trees and jade plants, can be moved to sheltered areas when the weather gets too cool. Plants like hydrangeas and orchids can be moved to more prominent locations while they are in bloom, and then moved out of the way while they are dormant or simply not blooming.

Potted small trees like fullmoon maple, Japanese maple, vine maple, citrus, sweet bay and some podocarpus have appealing form, and the maples also have intricate foliar texture. Shrubs like aucuba, escallonia, boxwood, privet, tobira and holly provide more substance. Shrubby bougainvilleas, angel’s trumpet, camellia and hydrangea produce colorful flowers. Japanese aralia and Heavenly bamboo display boldly interesting foliar texture.

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.