Let's start with the rockers, shall we?
I have always always always wanted a lineup of black rockers on a front porch. When we purchased Stonecrest, I knew black rockers were on the "search for" list from day 1. I researched various brands and looked online and in person, finding various prices and qualities. From $132 on Amazon to Walmart/Mainstays for $122 to in store end-of-season sales (Lowes $80-88) and Cracker Barrel ($149) to the crazy priced, but beautifully made Owen Reins (think $1,200 EACH), there were a lot of options. I mulled over the decision for almost 2 years, knowing that assembling 6-8 rockers was going to be terribly time consuming and the price of even the cheapest rockers made this an investment.
Lightning struck when my blogging friend out of Boston, (Melanie from A Beautiful Bite) mentioned an auction in passing on Facebook. It turns out that (AWESOME) auction was local to me and included items from the various Hershey Entertainment locations. Most (all?) of the items I ended up winning were from the Woodside Cottages of Hotel Hershey. ...and guess what? On the very first page of the auction were perhaps 100 black rockers. Fully assembled, still in great shape and I was sold, sold, sold. Each rocker ended up costing between $40-60 on auction day. The cheaper ($40) ones had a couple slightly loose slats which were easily adjusted and re-secured. The description actually said "increased finish lost" on the cheaper rockers and the picture looked terrible, but with a quick spray of the hose, they all cleaned up very nicely. I was impressed with the condition that they were in as a commercially used product. They are exactly what I was looking for.
If you are in south/central Pennsylvania, the auction company is called Jennings Auction Group
and they regularly run large online auctions of local businesses. They are one of my top three auction houses right now.
As a refresher, last year our front porch looked like this. This year, the major addition was the conversation-inducing black rockers, but I also wanted to add more plants and a simplified color scheme. I am sticking to butter (yellow) and lime (foliage) with accents of plum, purple and apricot for new flowering plants. Here are a few favorites that fit the color scheme:
‘ANGYO STAR’ FATSHEDERA - Southern Living Collection
Candyland Tomato - Pan American Seed -- This plant is hands down the most surprising plant of the bunch. I simply potted it up in a good potting mix and this puppy TOOK OFF. Literally growing inches a day, I have to pinch branches almost daily to keep up with it. There are masses of flowers and soon to be masses of tomatoes (Note: I took this picture and 4 days later there ARE INDEED loads of baby tomatoes now!)
I am so impressed with this tomato, I will definitely be growing it again!
Note that I have sweet potato vine covering the ugly legs of the tomato.
The tomato needs extra water and feeding with this competition, but it does not seem to mind the company
and I love the contrast of the greens from the pot to the vines to the tomato. (More on feeding below...keep reading!)
|Note the pretty yellow hue towards the center of each leaf!|
Wave Petunias - Ball Seed These upgraded classics are fantastic and spread like crazy for one season, then they bow out here in my zone 6 garden. While I enjoy the pinks and purples and silvers and whites, the YELLOWS are my favorite. They are a beautiful butter yellow and look good with just about everything. These pretty girls are coming indoors with me this winter and I hope to keep them alive for next year!
Sunpatians - Sakata Seed -- These impatian hybrids are a new development that allows impatians to be grown IN the sun. I like having them in pots because I can move the pots in OR out of the sun when I have a bare spot on the porch and they fill in nicely. The foliage is a deep deep green with purple undertones, fitting my color scheme on the porch. Once they bloom out, the lightest pinks pass for white, so they can stay, but the electric orange and magenta go elsewhere to brighten up dark spots. I paired the sunpatiens with an astilbe in each pot for some height and a little wispiness to contrast their solid shape/form.
Begonia - 'Magawatt Pink Bronze Leaf' -- Pan American Seed Again, the foliage is the star here, adding a bit of deep bronze purple. The blooms are a pretty pink and they are abundant!
Alternanthera 'Purple Prince' - This is one of my very favorite plants on the porch right now. It exploded in growth just a few days after being planted.
|Note the way the underside of each leaf has a more magenta hue that shines through when hit by sunlight!|
You can see the young Alternanthera there in the back, but they have filled out even more since I took the photo above. I finished the rest of the planter with clearance daisies and zinnias for more "butter" yellow. This particular planter will transition well into fall with the dark purples and yellows to contrast burnt orange mums and flaming maples.
Balancing the other side of the porch is a truly beautiful clover -- it is purple!
The clover here was previously used for THIS St. Patrick's Day Project, but outgrew the smaller container.
Both of these purple plants will come indoors this winter and join the rotation of my favorite potted plants.
|Anybody know the name of this pretty Floribunda??|
There are a few older plants (like that pretty Floribunda rose above) that don't exactly fit the color scheme, but they are too nice to take out, so I keep them trimmed and use the flowers indoors. Down the road, I would love to try grafting apricot-tinted roses onto the hardy rootstock that is already there. I have also planted out plenty of summer/perennial bulbs in plum and apricot to keep the color coming all summer!
So I told you about the rockers score and the record growth of some new plants, but now I am going to talk SPIKES.
Have you ever used spikes in the garden? They are the lazy, easy way of feeding plants that need an extra boost.
Thank you to Jobes Organics, Sakata Seed, Ball Seed Company and Pan American Seed for contributing to this post. I am happy to partner with relevant gardening brands here at A Nest for All Seasons!
Spikes are simple enough for even the smallest helpers to push into pots and they are far less messy than sprinkling blood meal or fish meal. I do not use any type of food for plants in the actual beds/ground aside from compost and organic matter (mostly leaves) that settles over the beds in the fall. The pots, however, DO need help to keep producing all summer long and organic spikes are the food of choice for mine.
Just one more because the look of concentration is too cute :")
|Note the gardening while in princess dress!|
If you are looking for other organic fertilizing options -- Jobes has you covered there as well:
...but try the spikes! They are SUPER easy, inexpensive and effective :)
So to sign off, here are a couple of "room view" shots where you can get an idea of how the porch looks now. On this side, I want to add a couple more stump side tables for drinks and MORE LIME plants! I love the freshness of lime, especially during the muggy months of late summer.
We also have resident chipmunks on this side of the porch which are in equal parts adorable and anger inducing
(when they dig up freshly planted bulbs). For now, we coexist due to their cuteness.
Here is the opposite side of the porch, slightly longer so the rockers stretch out in a row instead of conversational seating. I love the Angyo Star on this side and again just want MORE LIME! I plan to keep propagating sweet potato vine and perhaps purchase a few 'string of pearls' succulents on end-of-season clearances. Maybe more ferns? We shall see! For now, I am a happy bird rocking away each morning and afternoon on our front porch.