|By: Rhonda Fleming Hayes - About Rhonda
Our pool was finished last year just in time for the first day of school. There wasn’t much opportunity for poolside planting. I placed four potted arborvitae at each corner for seasonal interest and that was it. Then we swam through October just as a matter of principle.
I designated the pool area a high-relaxation/low maintenance zone. Still come spring I was anxious to create some unusual containers, buying lots of foliage plants in dusty desert tones. I fashioned these on the old flagstone patio by my greenhouse, where they looked fabulous.
Then I smugly wheeled them out to the pool...where I realized I didn’t know half as much as I thought about garden design. The strong sunlight reflecting off the concrete paving and that big block of blue water was too much for my pitiful pots. The shady woods beyond swallowed up what little color was left.
I floated about and pondered my pots. Clear colors and strong shapes. That was the lesson learned.
I have tweeked and tuned since then. It turns out some of best plants are familiar friends like cannas, geraniums and wave petunias. They are bold plants that can stand up to bouncing beach balls as well. Just use them in unfamiliar ways.
I especially like the cannas I have underplanted with calibrachoa “Million Bells”. The cascading trumpets compliment those broad tropical leaves. The sun shining through the stripey veins is appreciated from a lower in-pool perspective.
The purple fountain grass that looked drab before stands out in a teal glazed pot. Just a few colorful pots mixed in with plainer ones please.
Using a layered approach, annuals and perennials can be changed out through the season for a fresh look. Toward late summer, for example, wouldn’t the plate-sized blooms of hardy hibiscus look great with a skirt of wave petunias?
Pools attract teenagers. One of them, bless his heart, said our pool area looked like a magazine spread. You should see them scatter when I suit up and issue a “sweaty gardener alert”.