Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A world on a deck

The deck is full of the greens of tomatoes, mint and eggplant. Lemon gem marigolds, blue and white lobelia and a banana plant's red leaves add small splashes of color. This photo of one side of the deck was taken several weeks ago.

As September here feels more like July, we're continuing to enjoy the backyard deck. Every summer I fill it with container plants. I normally proceed without much of a plan; often, it's leftovers from other parts of the garden that wind up here. There are always a few tender things -- scented geraniums, for example -- that winter indoors and summer outdoors, as well as some of the potted mints that are buried or otherwise protected for the winter. I try to incorporate lots of plants with fragrant foliage or flowers because they're easy to touch and fondle and enjoy while kicking back. Just rub a chocolate-peppermint scented geranium between your fingers or inhale the sweet vanilla-like fragrance of blooming night phlox and tell me the world isn't a better place because of them.

I was mostly happy with how the deck turned out this year. Some people (you know who you are) have said they'd like more color, but I found the emphasis (totally unintended) on foliage color and texture pleasing. It spelled serenity to me and that's just what I needed this year. I was disappointed that the hops didn't do better -- I had envisioned it snaking its way through the railing -- but I suspect it was too root-bound to do much more.

The deck is about 19 x 16 and I've managed to stuff 47 containers of varying sizes between the chairs and the grill. They include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, four varieties of mint, parsley, lemon balm, malabar spinach, patchouli, brugmansia, heliotrope, a fig, a banana and lemon gem marigolds. I always include one water plant, this year an umbrella palm, because the silly dog likes to use the container as a personal drinking fountain.

A blue squash vine travels down the stair railing.

More and more I think of vegetables as ornamentals. This is 'Velvet Red' tomato; the foliage is a beautiful fuzzy silver, which is one big reason it gets deck status. Fortunately, we are getting fruit so we can try to save seeds for starting next year. It's not the easiest seed to find.

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