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Posted:  18 Jan 2011 06:05  
I'm sure some of you have SOME exterior work too.  If not ALL of us.

I have a few.  One location I wrestle with every spring/Fall.  Picture this;  large pots 20", two in full sun, two in shade.  On wheels, moved in and out of building for business hours (thus not always getting daylight/breezes/moisture etc.) Right on top of the ocean/Atlantic.  MA/NH border.  Difficult people issues.  Trash, liquids added, not always water. etc.  Any suggestions of plant material that can take these inhospitible demands!?  They can go for 4 days inside at a time in beginning and end of season. It is a seasonal restaurant/bar situation.  If it is a wet spring things rot.  Hot dry summer, things cook.  Geraniums don't fit the bill for the shade, Impatiens get very buggy/aphids and stop flowering for lack of any sun at all.  I've used grasses, marigolds, impatiens, lobelia, salvia, caladium, just to name a few. 

Just curious as to suggestions.
Posted:  19 Jan 2011 17:55  
Sounds like an unfriendly environment!

Any sunloving plant will have serious difficulties dealing with this kind of in-and-out regimen.  Is there a security issue that requires the planters to be rolled indoors at closing time?

I'd suggest a rotation program for this client.  Early spring: bulbs, heather, pansies/violas, primroses, things like that.  Later on, typical spring flowering material, then a summer tropical rotation for the hot weather, followed by a fall rotation of mums, asters, kale/cabbage, grasses/sedges, millet, etc.  The kale/cabbage can persist under coastal conditions in New England until around January, depending on the weather, so you'll get 9 + months of coverage out of the four rotations, with a fresh look every two months or so in addition to "fresh troops" going into battle for you. 

It will cost more, but the results for the client will be far superior than trying to nurse the wounded soldiers through an entire season under adverse conditions.

Posted:  21 Jan 2011 14:05  
let me clarify!  OMG...there is NO WAY one planting would have ever done it for these folks.  So YES, I do change things up for them, and they are fine with that.  Was just looking for suggestions on things that may last (sometimes...like a wet spring) more than two weeks!!! 

Yes, they have an issue with security.  At the beginning of the season they are not open like they are for Memorial Day to Labor Day.  While they keep regular hours, as far as someone being there, there is the risk of theft.  These planters are also on wheels, for ease of movement in and out.  BUT could also provide an intoxicated person or other person looking for fun....to just roll them away.

Things I've used in the past few seasons;  Pansies, bacopa, Impatiens, marigolds, petunia, geraniums, grasses, cabbage/kale, mums, heather, lobelia ivy/hardy,gerbera, columbine, lambs ear, caladium, coleus....just to name a few without looking in my records.  It really can just depend on the kind of weather we are having.  A wet spring/season not only does terrible things for their business, can really do nasty things to these containers/plants.  It is a restaurant/pub with a few outdoor decks. 

Posted:  21 Jan 2011 18:42  
I'd suggest bog plants, but what zone are you in?  Early spring in the northeast or midwest is generally too cold for those kinds of plants to survive and look presentable.

You might want to suggest "permanent" plantings instead, and work in some seasonal blooming material here and there.  Use shrubs to give mass (there are many with colorful leaves that will fill in for flowers at times when it's impractical to use blooming plants).

Posted:  24 Jan 2011 02:53  
I highly doubt he would want "permanent" as they close for several months out of the year.  It is zone 5 here.  I did use some bog plants last spring along with pansies and other cooler loving flowers.    He doesn't mind me changing it up, wants me to actually.  But like I said.  Sometimes I barely get two weeks from things.  Earliest spring is the hardest to deal with.

Thanks for all your input Clem!  Brainstorming with others helps.
Posted:  24 Jan 2011 03:59  
I feel your pain...all of us who have "branched out" into exterior planting work have suffered through these kinds of traumatic experiences with "zebra" clients.  The bottom line is that special circumstances demand special treatments, and more often than not, special treatments cost special dollars!

We used to do an interior account, a very challenging building lobby, with a "bright side" and a "dark side", that had to be planted with similar plant materials in order to "match".  That was a constant source of stress for me, the techs and the property management office in the building.  Things that did well on the sunny side did poorly on the dark side, and vice versa.  The blooming plant rotation program was specified by the contract, not by us, and consisted of about twenty rotations ranging from azaleas, mums and bulb plants to bromeliads and kalanchoes.  Two weeks was the rule for almost everything except the broms, which made it very labor-intensive and a real challenge to keep short-lived blooming material presentable on a weekly maintenance schedule.  We lobbied hard for changes in the rotation plan and finally persuaded management to see it our way, and they were much happier with the results thereafter.

So you might need to exercise firm "expert authority" over the choice of plant materials and scheduling so that you are not scrambling to keep it profitable AND presentable at all times.

As for the "permanent" plants, they won't really be "permanent" in the normal sense of the word, but they can last the majority of the planting season in good condition and provide mass and color to back the rotational blooming material you will change out seasonally.  That makes for less work for your personnel and a more consistent design to the plantings.  Just MHO.

Posted:  01 Feb 2011 20:14  
helpful thoughts!  As I said.  he IS fine with me chaning things up and keeping them looking great.  Just wish Mother nature could be more helpful. (As I sit here watching snow) 

I will go back into my google settings and add "office plants!"

What program are you using for the pay ad?
Posted:  02 Feb 2011 13:54  
Just a thought. Do you have drainage that you can plug and unplug as conditions require? How about succulents and grasses and use bromilliads for color. They seem to be the coming thing for walls and such.
Posted:  02 Feb 2011 16:57  
no plugs.  There is drainage. They are just in nice ceramic pots.  I did do grasses, but more towards fall.  Even in summer the grass in one container crapped out.  I do have broms on site inside.  Could try them outside I suppose.  Succulents may not be flashy enough....maybe as an added touch, not the main feature.
Posted:  02 Feb 2011 19:26  
There are LOTS of flashy succulents available in the trade these days...with colors like pink, purple, orange, red, "black", variegated...in all sorts of forms, not just the generic "hens and chicks" and sedums we commonly associate with succulent plantings in rockeries and containers outdoors.  And many of them also flower with pretty spectacular displays, so hot and dry is no problem...too much water, though, will be.

Posted:  02 Feb 2011 23:18  
Just look at the photos of the walls from tpie and San Diego.Shift your medium to a more porous blend as it seems you're there often and can water as needed.
Posted:  03 Feb 2011 01:06  
I think we're going in the right direction now!

Posted:  15 Mar 2011 02:31  
I'm there 10-12 days apart (shifting for holidays) so...really good draining soil could be an issue, as I am not there frequently.  I think I need to think further outside the box.  Get away from annuals I think.... Hmmm, sources on those succulents!?

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