Change your planting containers, and your approach to planting may change. That's what happened recently at M&M Nursery in Orange, when designers planted seasonal color in galvanized tin buckets and tubs instead of the usual terra-cotta pots.
The casual containers imposed their own style--clean, cheerful, carefree. Nursery staffers found themselves using annuals with stems longer than usual, combining colors with a freer hand, and producing more informal compositions. "The buckets look like you've just picked a bunch of flowers out of a country garden," says Ted Mayeda, the nursery's owner. "Customers love them."
A feast of flowers fills four buckets of varying sizes. A 5-1/2-gallon bucket (on chair) contains white gauras, 'Cinnamon Red Hots' dianthus, yellow 'Goldmarie' bidens, 'Blue Bird' nemesias, annual phlox, and pink petunias. Three 4-gallon buckets each contain dianthus, brachycomes, helichrysum 'Baby Gold', marigolds, yellow pansies, and petunias.
1. Find a suitable bucket or tub, either new or used.
2. Drill drainage holes in the bottom, using a 1/2-inch metal drill bit; create at least three holes for a 12-quart bucket, six or more for a 5-1/2-gallon tub.
3. Add potting soil to the bucket until it's about two-thirds full.
4. Move the bucket handle to the upright position; begin planting. For the breezy styles seen here, include some leggy plants like gauras, nemesias, and carnations, as well as middle-of-the-pot candidates such as annual phlox and marigolds. Then add edge-spillers like petunias.