As the gardening season winds down and the garden starts to look tired and ready for a rest, one thing that still looks good are my big pots of annuals. I always plant up a number of these in the spring and they look pretty pathetic then with the tiny '6 pack' annuals, two or three to a large pot. Before you know it they have filled the pot. I just pick some things I like, usually with not much thought as to how I'm going to do this when I get home. I have yet to have any that are really ugly combinations. This year I planned my pots around what Lowe's had in their 'we almost killed it now you get it cheap' area. For 25 cents each I got a couple of 6 packs (usually 4 plants left) of coleus and the geraniums were 25 cents each for a 4 inch pot. I had no idea what color the geraniums would be. I think this pot worked out just fine. I liked this coleus so much that I took some cutting from it to live in the greenhouse over the winter. I don't always do this because it takes up space and the greenhouse is small, but we really liked the brightness of this one. I also got some red salvia, silver artemesia, white flowered vinca and a few dark leaved coleus.
When I plant these pots up, I use a layer of gravel in the bottom, especially if it is a plastic pot, partly for drainage, but mostly for stability. As the plants get taller, there's a chance they could get toppled in a windy rainstorm. I use a well draining potting mix because even though they are more likely to suffer from lack of water, soggy roots will be sure death for most of the things that end up in pots. Pinching back things as they get leggy helps keep the pots looking nice. The thing I especially like (other than that the plants are above the level where the rabbits can eat them) is that I can rearrange things at will. The pots have their homes, but can move to the other side of the house into the shade temporarily for a garden lunch or to spice up a too green area until later season perennials get going. My only requirement for placement is that they can be reached with a hose. Hauling that much water by watering can is a lot of work if you have a couple dozen pots to water every day - and they usually need watering every day.
Frost will do them in sometime in the next month, but I will certainly enjoy them until then and maybe even bring a few pots into the sunroom for awhile after that.
I've been canning lots of stuff for the past few days, so haven't been near the computer much. We now have lots of applesauce and tomatoes and some peach jam and grape jelly all looking so sparkly in their jars. I just love having shelves of canned things put up for the winter. Such a secure feeling knowing that we have plenty to eat should be we snowed in for a week or so.