All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A by Pernell Gerver

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"Tips for Successful Container Gardening"

Container gardening is a great way to garden, especially for those who have little or no space or time for a garden. Just about any plant can be grown in a container garden. I like to use containers as accents in the garden. Because they’re in containers, the pots can be moved around and placed where color is needed. I also like to group containers of different sizes together for an even better display.

Regardless of the size or shape of the container, the three main design elements in any container garden are upright, mounding, and trailing plants. By combining a plant or two from each category in a container garden, the results will be a beautiful and appealing display that will look good all season long. When it comes to gardening in containers, a full container right away is the desired effect, so don’t be afraid to put in as many plants as possible. You can always come back later as the plants grow and trim back, or remove altogether, if necessary.

Upright plants provide height in a container garden. As a general rule of thumb the tallest plants should be about twice the height of the container. This provides good visual balance to the container garden.

Placement of the upright plants varies, depending on the container. They can be placed in the center of the container and surrounded by mounding and trailing plants or they can be planted towards the back and side of the container with the other plants in front. In a container that is viewed from all sides, the upright plants look best planted in the center. In a container that is viewed from just the front like a windowbox the upright plants should be planted in the back.

Mounding plants are used to fill in the center of a container garden. Not as tall as the upright plants, mounding plants, as their name implies, form an attractive mound of foliage and/or flowers depending on the plant.

There are many different plants with a mounding habit that are good container plants and I like to include at least one in every container I plant. If the container is large enough, I’ll plant several different kinds of mounding plants.

Trailing plants are used in a container to help soften the edge and draw the eye downward. These types of plants have long stems that drape and trail. Many can grow to several feet long or more. Trailing plants are planted right along the edge of the container either in the front in a container that’s viewed from just the front or all around the edge in a container that’s viewed from all sides.

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Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Flowering Almond an Easy-to-Grow Shrub"

Q. Could you please give me some information on my flowering almond? When is the best time to prune it and how do I care for it? Thank you so much.

A. Flowering almond (Prunus triloba plena) is an easy-to-grow shrub that puts on a display of spring-time flowers. In mid spring before its leaves emerge its branches are covered with small, pompon-like flowers. The flowers are about an inch across and are borne all up and down the branch. They are deep pink in bud and open to a pale pink. It flowers at the same time as daffodils and early tulips and combines well with them in a flower bed. Flowering almond is actually a type of low-growing cherry, but it does not produce fruit.

Flowering almond grows to 10 feet tall and about half as wide. It's a good shrub for the middle to back of a flower bed or border. There's also a dwarf flowering almond (Prunus glandulosa) that grows only four feet tall and as wide. Dwarf flowering almond has a loose, airy appearance. Both types of flowering almond grow best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil.

The time to prune flowering almond is right after it flowers in spring. Its flower buds are formed during summer so be sure to do any pruning as soon as possible after it finishes flowering. If you wait too long you'll be cutting off next year's flowers. Remove the portion of the stem that had flowers on it. This will allow buds lower down on the branch to develop. Flowering almond tends to send up shoots from the roots. These are called suckers and should be removed. It also spreads by these underground shoots and will often come up in another area of the garden where it was not planted. 

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