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Small Garden With a Big Impact

Self-Watering Containers Keep
Tiny Pennsylvania Garden in Constant Bloom

Jo Rush
Each year, Jo Rush plants more than 400 annual flowers -- many of them in pots, planters, hanging baskets and windowboxes.
Container gardening may be all the rage, but for Jo Rush it's old news. She's been gardening in containers for 45 years. Her small, narrow yard in Easton, Pennsylvania, is filled with colorful flowers that provide a big impact. "I think it's easier to create a dramatic impact in a smaller yard because everything is so concentrated," says Jo. "It's like a European garden."

The key to Jo's beautiful flower garden is the more than 50 containers, windowboxes, and hanging baskets that decorate her house and yard. Each year she plants more than 400 annual flowers. No matter where you look, you see pots filled with geraniums, vinca, impatiens, New Guinea impatiens, begonias, petunias, and marigolds. "I grow mostly annuals because I like to change the design every year," she says. But when it comes to the front yard, Jo mixes her annual extravaganza with hardy perennials, such as daylilies. These gardens are designed for passers-by to admire. She also has a memorial garden for her late husband featuring a plaque at the base of a hornbeam tree in a garden planted with impatiens and hostas.

Around the back of the house, near her music studio, is where container gardening really takes over. A few years ago Jo discovered self-watering containers. "I love the Terrazza trough-style containers and the Self-Watering Trough Planters," she says. "I only have to fill them with water once a week, and they are big enough to let me create an interesting design using various plants," says Jo.

Jo's favorite color combination is red and white, but she isn't afraid to mix in pinks and fuchsias for an eye-catching effect.
Self-Watering Hanging Baskets and Self-Watering Windowboxes adorn the second floor porch. "I've noticed that flowers in the self-watering containers are more lush than those grown in regular containers," says Jo. "Even in summers when it's hot and dry, they stay beautiful and keep blooming right until frost," she says.

To make sure her flowers look their best, Jo replaces all the soil in every container each spring. "I wash and clean out the old containers in spring and use fresh potting soil that has time-release plant food in it," says Jo. "I give all the old soil to a neighbor who uses it for fill in his yard." Jo is also a dedicated pincher and dead-header. A little attention every day keeps her plants bushy and covered in blooms.

Jo's favorite color combination is red and white, but she isn't afraid to mix in pinks and fuchsias for an eye-catching effect. Though her gardens are the envy of the neighborhood, she has little competition. "My neighbor Jimmy has a home office and he says why he should bother planting gardens when he can just look out his window at mine," she smiles.

The garden from above
"I love sitting on the second floor deck on a summer evening, rocking on the swing," Jo says.
These container gardens have become the joy of Jo's life. "I love sitting on the second floor deck on a summer evening, rocking on the swing, watching the moon rise, and enjoying all the flowers," she says. Though this 83-year old gardener says she can't get around as well as she used to, she's still very active in the garden. "Next year I'm going to plant more vinca," she says. "I also need to redesign the trough planters so the vincas are in back of the petunias and geraniums and don't over shadow them," says Jo. "I'm gradually replacing all my old containers with self-watering planters," she says. When her daughter brought her some hanging baskets that weren't self-watering as a gift, she told her to take them back. After years of gardening, Jo is someone who knows what works!

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