1 I always enjoy going to my home in Maine every spring to fill the large planters with beautiful specimens. My greenhouse at Skylands cannot accommodate the large plants, so many of them are wintered over at my Bedford farm and then loaded onto a trailer back to Maine for the summer months.
2 It's a lot of work to plant everything in just a couple of days, but it's a weekend I look forward to every year.
On the other side of the cracked ice terrace were many of the large pots and urns. After determining where everything would go, it was time to start working.
3 We had all the supplies ready - the urns, pots and planters, the potting mix and of course, the plants. The weather was cool, but still comfortable.
4 This is the stone trough I bought at Trade Secrets a couple of years ago. It has worked perfectly here at Skylands, and looks beautiful planted up.
5 The vine growing on my home is kiwi, or Actinidia. This vine should be planted in well-drained soil. Kiwi vines can tolerate a lot of different light conditions, but more exposure to sun brings out better colors in the leaves, some of which can be variegated.
6 The western terrace is among my favorite summer meal spots. The pergola is covered with kiwi vines, and a Dutchman's pipe vine, a very striking plant, also known as Aristolochia macrophylla. This plant is a woody vine that produces flowers shaped like curved pipes.
7 Sharkey loved joining the fun. Here she was in a large, antique lead planter waiting for a hand to reach down and give her a good rub, and maybe a lift out. This planter is one of a pair, and was made sometime in the 18th to 19th century.
8 It was Kevin's idea to create a new peaceful sitting area on the terrace with the faux bois bench and the Gertrude Jekyll style pots. Gertrude was an influential British garden designer, horticulturist, artist and writer. The area looks so inviting. Through the trees, a breathtaking view of Seal Harbor. Seal Harbor, Maine, is located on the southeastern part of Mount Desert island.
9 Maine gardeners, Mike Harding and Wendy Norling, showed me how they carry the heavy planters from one location to another - they use this very handy pot-lifter. This is one of my Lunaform planters. Lunaform is a coastal Maine studio that produces handmade, all weather garden containers. http://lunaform.com
10 We always use moistened potting soil to fill the planters and pots. Here is Wendy watering down a wheelbarrow filled with potting mix. A good potting soil will include a mix of sterile soil, very well rotted leaf mold and compost.
11 Here I am working on the massive, heavy Soderholtz planter made out of reinforced concrete from the 1920s. Eric Soderholtz was a pioneer in American garden pottery and a most creative artist of concrete formations - his works are collectible items.
12 This large, square, antique lead planter was so big, we filled it with some empty upside down plastic pots first. The planting material was then placed on top of the upside down pots.
13 Filling the bottom of large planters with something other than soil benefits plantings in several ways - it is more economical, easier to move, and better for drainage and root growth.
14 This is a large silver-blue agave. Agaves are exotic, deer-resistant, drought-tolerant plants. Agaves make wonderful container plants. When repotting, it's a good idea to work on a tarp, so that the cleanup is much easier.
15 I planted this very large Kalanchoe beharensis, commonly known as velvet elephant ear, velvet leaf or felt bush. I call it "deer antler" because the leaves feel just like the velvet covering on the growing antlers of young male deer. Kalanchoe beharensis a slow-growing tree-like shrub that can grow up to 12 to 20 feet tall. Its leaves are large, folded, olive green, with a soft, velvety texture.
16 I planted uniquely shaped succulents in this ancient English stone trough. Many Echeveria species are popular as ornamental garden plants. They are drought-resistant, although they do better with regular deep watering and fertilizing.
17 Here, Ryan divided an agave. The process is fairly simple - just wiggle the pups, or baby plants, until they separate from the mother plant, making sure to always include some of the roots.
18 These are Helichrysum petiolare, commonly known as licorice plant, and trailing dusty miller. 'White licorice' and 'limelight' are both striking. This plant prefers sun to part-shade with well-drained soil.
19 Mike planted agave in this large urn. The urn is also a reproduction of one of several designed by British garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll. She created more than 400 gardens in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. She has been described as a "premier influence in garden design" by English and American gardening experts.
20 The temperatures were a bit cool, and the sky was overcast to start, but it was a very productive and enjoyable day, especially with such a good group to help.
21 We all took turns doing everything, from moistening the potting mix, to filling pots, to planting.
22 Ryan prepared this agave for planting. Agaves are long-leafed succulents with shallow roots and showy, spiked leaves. A little extra care should be taken whenever working with such sharp plants - always protect the eyes and face when handling agaves.
24 Here is a view that never gets tiring. It's from my terrace looking over Seal Harbor and Sutton's Island in the distance.
25 To preserve some of the more porous and fragile planters, I first line the pots with plastic garbage bags, which prevent the pots from soaking up too much water.
26 In the trough I purchased from an antiques dealer at Trade Secrets, I planted several graceful Norfolk Island pines, Araucaria heterophylla. The deep green color looked wonderful in the trough. This plant likes full sun, good moisture and good drainage.
28 Here's another amazing view of Seal Harbor after the clouds dissipated, and the blue sky appeared.
29 The large, square lead pot was planted with beautiful and bright Alocasia, or more commonly referred to as elephant ear because of the huge green leaves that closely resemble the ears of an elephant. Most Alocasia plants prefer high humidity and grow larger faster in humid conditions.
30 These big urns looked so dramatic planted with the blue-green agave and the purple Echeveria succulents. Do you know... the agave syrup in the grocery store is about one and a half times sweeter than sugar and comes from the same plant that's used to make tequila?
31 A nice wide view of my terrace at Skylands as it begins to take on more life with all the planted specimens. On the left, one of the two glazed terra-cotta sphinxes watched over the terrace and guarded the entrance to the house. These sphinxes were designed by Emile Muller.
32 The large Lunaform urn looked wonderful with the agave and Helichrysum. Helichrysum is exceptionally easy to grow and doesn't need much fertilizing.
33 Another Eric Soderholtz bowl planter - this one is on the wall of the western terrace. Every year, I select many different types of plants and try to vary where they are planted and where they are displayed.
34 I love this faux bois planter. Planted with the elephant's ear kalanchoe, it looked very eye-catching. This plant should be dry before it is watered as too much water may kill it. It does well as a container plant in mostly frost-free landscapes.
35 The varying shades of green in this garden bed looked so vibrant. This will grow even more full in the weeks ahead.
36 Ferns can add dramatic beauty to any planter. A fern is a member of a group of roughly 12-thousand species of vascular plants. In general, ferns are low-maintenance, hardy plants. They require lots of shade and ambient sunlight.
37 And, of course, lying beneath the western terrace is the lady - La Riviere by Aristide Maillol.
39 Here, Kevin took overhead photos of the delicious salads, but didn't use a proper kitchen step ladder - something I always strongly suggest for safety purposes.
40 We thoroughly enjoyed this crunchy and delicious salad with our pizza. The lettuces were from my greenhouse at the farm and from Triple Chick Farm in Town Hill, Maine. Visit their web site to see what is growing. http://triplechickfarm.com/thingsgrowing/
41 All the fresh ingredients for our pizzas were gathered.
42 The delicious tomato sauce was prepared using San Marzano plum tomatoes - the color was a beautiful bright red.
44 The pizzas were absolutely delicious - everyone wanted seconds, and thirds.
45 G.K. had a wonderful time with all the attention and occasional "tastes".
46 For dessert, we baked delicious California apricots and baked rhubarb in sugar.