In the uphill residential area of Paradiso, Switzerland, this luxury duplex-penthouse offers a private rooftop terrace with amazing views of the hillside. The glass railing provides an unobstructed view of the city, while the large, potted plants make the space feel like an open air museum.
The thing about air conditioners: You can't cover them with real climbers, which could damage the equipment. But a faux bush made of recycled plastic? That's a plant it can handle! The TRiCC protective cover even tilts forward for easy access to the unit.
Having interior plant designs is refreshing and air purifying, and it gives your spaces the calm that all our homes should have, says Joe Guggia, a California floral designer. He mixes greenery and natural elements, such as willow, for his large pieces of “foliage art.”
Also called sword ferns, Kimberly queen ferns (Nephrolepis obliterata) make elegant specimen plants, thanks to their straight, upright fronds. These nearly-carefree Australian natives are happy indoors if they’re kept in medium light and given sufficient humidity (if your air is too dry, try running a small humidifier nearby). Outside, they’re hardy in zones 9-11. Indoor gardeners love them because they help purify the air, but you can also enjoy them outdoors in warm weather months.
Colletti says, “After planting this open-footed brandy glass with two Dracaena plants – one a spiked D. marginata and other a lime green-striped D. reflexa – (and) filling it to capacity, tuck a small Selaginella kraussiana ‘Aurea’ on the side wall. The gold club moss begins to expand as if it’s finally found its long lost pals. The shape of its new home creates the ideal combination of moisture and air circulation."
Problem: Swarms or clouds of tiny white creatures fly into the air when you move your plants. Solution: You’ve got whiteflies, insects related to aphids that suck plant juices. They make a sticky substance called honeydew that can attract fungal diseases. Spray the plant with an insecticidal soap, following label directions. You’ll probably need to re-treat. Some gardeners use a homemade spray of 2 parts rubbing alcohol, 5 parts water and one tablespoon of mild liquid soap. The good news is that some houseplants, like this red Anthurium, are seldom troubled by these pests.
Bring the outdoors in to decorate for the fall season. Enjoy a walk in the crisp air to gather clippings of flowering plants and colorful foliage. Fill small vases with your finds and place them throughout the house. If you're expecting overnight visitors, don't forget the guest room. Image courtesy of Blackberry Farm; Photography by beall + thomas.
Fuchsia is a showstopper in part to full shade conditions with its dangling, multi-colored flowers. ‘Bellinto Compact Red And Violet’ fuchsia delivers a classic pink and purple color combination in a small plant that’s perfect for pots. Plants grow 8 to 16 inches tall and 10 to 14 inches wide. Look for fuchsia in many different color pairings, including pastel pink and lavender, or white and red. Flowers also come in solid shades, such as orange or deep red. Fuchsia is a hummingbird magnet, so display plants where you can easily view them from indoors to watch the air show.
Be sure to read the label of your favorite weed killer. For common chemicals like Round-Up, 50°F is usually the lowest temperature where the product remains effective at killing weeds. Many plants essentially stop growing as soil temperatures fall into the 50-degree range, so at that point spraying is a waste of time and money. The answer is to spray early in the fall season, while plants are actively growing and air temps are still in the ideal 60-degree range.
The garden folly in this Zen backyard is an open-air structure fabricated and carved from solid reclaimed teak. The pyramid roof is finished with copper fish-tail shingles, and teak steps lead to the pool. The gorgeous tropical paradise features lounge chair seating padded with layers of cushion. Tropical plants frame the area, creating privacy.
Keep big container gardens light enough to move by filling the bottom third with lightweight plastics. Upside down flower pots and an empty lidded juice bottle neatly fill space in the bottom of the pot and won’t rot during the course of many growing seasons. Using plastics in the bottom of pots also saves on soil—saving you money. Plastics promote healthy plants by providing an air pocket for plant roots, which helps to prevent waterlogged soil, even during the wettest seasons. Where to find possible space fillers for large planters? Raid your recycling bin, choosing rigid plastics over softer, milk jug-types.
Most descriptions of dwarf Alberta spruce list the mature height as 5 feet, but it can reach substantial size when it's left untrimmed for decades. These dwarf Albertas were tucked into the landscape over 40 years ago and are now as tall as a one-story home. When planting dwarf Alberta spruce, always leave at least 3 feet between them and structures or plants. They grow best with good air circulation, and proper spacing is important if you intend to let them remain in place for many years.
Pansies and spring bulbs like tulips make excellent planting partners. Tuck bulbs into soil in fall, then add winter-hardy pansies. In spring, watch the magic unfold. This pansy is Panola XP True Blue Pansy, a multiflora type that stands up to winter chill without missing a blooming beat. To help pansies survive when temps drop below 20 F for several hours, cover plants with a frost blanket or a 2- to 4-inch-thick loose mulch like pine straw (gently rake it off when air temps rise). Healthy pansies can typically withstand single digits for short spells without extra protection.
The back of this French Provence home at twilight is a sight to behold as light shimmers from the upstairs balcony to the covered patio and then beyond to a tempted-to-be-tried swimming pool. The effect is serene and seductive, yet the home never loses the air of grand elegance and a simple, coordinated design. Mark Scott and Associates chose a scattering of plants in this area so not to detract from the home's smart architectural details.
Colletti says growing moss in a terrarium can be a challenge, because there's a lot of moisture and little air circulation. She prefers open-topped containers. Climacium americanum (commonly called lobe-leaved tree moss) and Hedwigia ciliata (fringed hoar-moss) work well in any kind of container, she says. Leucobryum glaucum (pincushion moss) and Cladonia rangiferina (reindeer moss, actually a lichen) are best used in open containers. In this image, sheet moss surrounds other small plants.
Keep tomato vines off the ground to protect ripening fruit from pests and diseases. Hoisting vines with cages or stakes also makes it much easier to pick fruit. With tomatoes, disease is one of the top problems you’ll encounter. Staking and supporting vines increases air flow around leaves, which can help reduce disease outbreaks. Be sure to choose a tomato support that suits the mature size of the plant. Many traditional tomato cages are too short to support heirloom tomatoes efficiently.
Delicate-looking maidenhair ferns love high humidity, and Victorian gardeners provided it by growing them in Wardian cases, terrarium-like structures made of glass. To give these plants the moist air they crave, mist your fern daily or keep it on top of some pebbles in a tray filled with a little water. These feathery beauties can be finicky, demanding moist, well-draining soil and indirect sun. Don’t let them dry out completely or stand in drafts
Backyard blooms are a natural candidate for centerpieces — in addition to the cost savings of using free flowers, you can also show off your green thumb. Cut flowers early in the morning when the air and ground temps are cooler and plants are least stressed. And, be sure to place the cut blooms directly into a bucket of water to prevent any moisture loss. When arranging, re-cut the stems at a 45-degree angle before placing into a vase with added floral preservative.