Tina Dixon, of Plants à la Cart in Bothell, Washington, and Marsha Davis-Thomsen of Seattle are not easily discouraged by short days, rain, and persistently chilly weather. Each fall, just when everyone else in the Northwest is giving up on gardening for the season, the two designers whip up winter-into-spring plantings in containers.
Take the sumptuous mix of perennials, grasses, heathers, and spring-blooming bulbs they planted last fall in the sandstone urn pictured at left . It looked good almost instantly after planting - and heather foliage and pansy blooms provided color on a front porch through winter. Then, in spring, successive bursts of daffodil, grape hyacinth, and tulip flowers heightened the show.
Winter weather near Lake Washington did not faze this collection of plants; New Zealand flax, the most tender of the plants in the arrangement, is hardy to about 20°. Throughout the cool season, the plants needed no supplemental feeding, and weekly watering was only necessary during dry spells between rains.
Costs for this project (including soil, bulbs, perennials, and fertilizer) came to about $110. The sandstone urn costs more, but you can use any large container that catches your fancy, including terra-cotta.