When I lived in Des Moines, Iowa I watched Costa Farms Horticulturist Justin Hancock fill the median strip in front of his house with extra perennials and roses he couldn’t squeeze into his already-packed backyard. Within a few months, other gardens started to crop up in the median strips further down the street. Eventually, the once-barren street-side was awash in bloom.
Following Justin’s lead, I decided to plant a few large containers of annuals at the entry to our neighborhood in North Florida. The area had lovely landscaping with mature crape myrtle trees, but the space between the trees was mulched with brown, boring pine straw. The ground was also so densely packed with roots that it was virtually impossible to create planting beds under the tree canopy.
That’s why, in February, I decided to add three large containers that would sit on top of the mulch and filled them with flowers. Of course, the nice thing about living in North Florida is that you can grow annuals year round as long as you select varieties that can take an occasional light frost. That’s why I chose a chill-resistant mix of dianthus, snapdragon, petunia, Swiss chard, and dusty miller.
The pots have only been there a few months, but already one neighbor has added a raised bed herb garden to her front yard while another is re-landscaping her whole backyard. I can’t claim that these few pots inspired them, but I do believe that being exposed to the beauty of plants has a ripple effect on neighbors and friends.
No matter where you live, you can get a jump on the season with cool-weather annuals. Learn more about container gardening with our guide.
Get more ideas for creating beautiful container gardens -- and keeping them healthy -- with our free idea book.
Written by Doug Jimerson