All week we've been sharing pieces of our Container Garden Workshop, from what we gave our guests (garden glove invites and an apron) to the decor (a vintage seed packet bunting) and the recipe for our new cocktail, the Beekeeper Sunrise. But we've saved the best for last. We are soooo excited to share the photography from the actual workshop. Nothing beats taking photos in a perfectly sun-lit greenhouse!
For this month's party, we knew we wanted to do some kind of floral workshop to cap off our May theme, "Flora & Fauna." Learning how to compose a container garden seemed to be a perfect activity that would also allow for some socializing. Our challenge was figuring out the right place to host half a dozen people all needing access to flowers, soil, tools and a place to do their planting. And were we supposed to choose all of the flowers ahead of time? That seemed logistically unfeasible.
So instead, we asked Windy-Lo, one of our best local nurseries, if they would allow us to host a small gathering of friends somewhere on their property. That way, our guests could wander the nursery and pay for whichever flowers they wanted directly from Windy-Lo. I highly recommend doing it this way because then the nursery also benefits from the event. Owner Sally Flagg was so wonderful about our request that she opened up one end of their beautiful greenhouse, supplied us with tables and soil and allowed us to take a gazillion pictures.
Along with providing everyone with a pair of gloves and an apron, we offered several different kinds of vintage containers to choose from. To prepare for the party, we had a lot of fun scouring thrift stores and antique shops for anything that would hold plants. (We keep having to remind our husbands that "we are working...this is our JOB. We have to go antiquing. Seriously). Our guests ended up choosing a porcelain serving dish, a metal colander, a wooden crate, old food tins and a lobster pot. We loved how the different personalities of the containers influenced what each person planted!
Along with borrowing the perfect setting, we also had the smart idea to not lead the workshop ourselves. Instead, we asked a very knowledgeable friend to step in. If you know someone who has a green thumb, it's kind of a relief to give this part over to them so that you can concentrate on the other aspects of the party. (If your entire circle of friends consists of people with brown thumbs, call a local garden club or horticultural society. They just might have someone who'd happily volunteer for the job). We were so happy to have Elizabeth Carroll teach us how to prep a container garden as well as offering input as we walked around the nursery and chose our plants.
Here are Elizabeth's
TOP 3 CONTAINER GARDEN TIPS:
1. Plant for how you want the container to look right now. In a garden bed, you'd space out the plants, leaving room to grow over the next couple of years. Containers are meant to give you a spectacular show right away. (I personally love instant gratification and was very happy with this tip). Go ahead and stuff your plants so that the arrangement looks full and lush. You won't be saving it past the summer so don't worry about it overgrowing. You can always replant the flowers in your garden bed if you want to keep them long-term.
2. Go for at least one of each kind of plant: a Thriller, a Spiller and a Filler. You know those gorgeous containers you see in magazines that look so complex? Here's how. You choose something with height and drama for the center (the Thriller) then you choose a plant that will spill out over the edge of the container (the Spiller). Vines work well for this such as ivy, sweet potato vine or even trailing flowers like certain petunias. Then, you fill in the empty spaces with a plant that is more compact (the -you guessed it- Filler). The fillers offer color if they are floral or offer interesting texture if the plant is leafy.
3. The final tip is simply to think outside the terra cotta pot when it comes to containers. You can line wood crates with plastic wrap and use a staple gun to hold it in place so that you keep the water in. You can hammer a nail into the bottoms of tin pots and then remove them to create drainage. You can throw empty plastic bottles in the bottoms of larger containers so that you don't have to use as much soil. Just pick a great shape and imagine what it would look like holding beautiful flowers, herbs or succulents!
Now since this wasn't just a container garden workshop but also a Little Yellow Couch party, we naturally wanted to offer some tasty treats and libations. We set up one table with vintage floral tablecloths and used very feminine handkerchiefs in place of napkins.
Our bunting was strung across our workspace. Before the party, we had already filled a few small tins and tea cups with pansies for a center piece.
We all had a great time learning from Elizabeth, chatting over scones and a morning cocktail, and going home with a beautiful living arrangement. Karen and I think this makes for a great outing amongst a casual group of friends but it could also serve as a more formal party for a bride-to-be. Everyone could make two containers, one to take home and one to give to the bride! (Wish I had thought of that when I was getting married). At any rate, this is definitely a party that you could put together fairly easily and we highly recommend you do!
xoxo Zandra & Karen June