Summer is almost here! We’ve already started to feel the heat here in Georgia, and now is the perfect time to plant for summer. Here are my 6 go-to plants for color that will last all season long, even in the intense heat. These plants will thrive in both containers and landscapes; check out the video for more details on which plants to pair in containers.

  1. Dragon Wing® Begonia: This shady lady produces beautiful blooms and will grow 3’ x 3’. The pink and red varieties are my favorite. Shade | Annual
  2. Vinca: An oldie but a goodie, non-trailing variety grows about 2 feet tall, straight up. If planting in a container, these beauties can stand on their own. Full Sun | Annual
  3. Landmark™ Lantana: An aggressive grower, this plant will takeover in no time. This could be a single star in a container, but also great in landscaping because it grows so quickly. See other examples of how to use Lantana here. Full Sun | Perennial
  4. Rosemary: Perfect for the summer heat, doesn’t like wet feet! Add as texture to a container, or use as a border in your landscaping. Rosemary grows where strong women live, so we love it even more!
  5. Sunpatiens®: Just like the name suggests, these gals love the full sun. Another aggressive grower, these work best as a standalone in a container. You can also plant in a grouping for added color in the yard. Warning, she’s a heavy drinker – make sure she gets plenty of water! Full Sun | Annual
  6. Joseph’s Coat: You may put up your coats for the summer, but Joseph’s Coat is perfect for the high temperatures! I love the chartreuse green, which complements any other color! This plant grows wide, not tall, so perfect for layering with taller plants in containers and landscapes. Full Sun | Annual

Remember to always plant in good potting soil, even in your landscaping. Check out the video for more details, tips and tricks on how to plant successful summer color in your garden!

And proof that I love these plants in my own garden:

2015-05-09 06.48.21

My Dragon Wing® Begonias in full bloom last summer. “Turkey the Chicken” has quite the setup!

2015-05-09 06.51.02

Joseph’s Coat and Sunpatiens® create a beautiful border in my backyard.

A beautiful container that will flourish all summer!

Replanting our Easter centerpiece as an outdoor container for long-lasting summer color! Plus get all of my tips and tricks for the perfect container! #containergardening #spring #garden #flowers

Posted by Carmen Johnston Gardens on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

There is nothing quite like using live plants for a centerpiece. During Easter week, we created a live ‘n’ luscious centerpiece using Spanish Lavender, Creeping Jenny, Lemon Butter Ferns, and Kale. (Hint: ‘Like’ Carmen Johnston Gardens on Facebook for more live video tutorials!) Yesterday, we replanted that very same centerpiece into a few different containers. Amazing, right? Freshly cut flowers are beautiful, but they would have been dead weeks ago. You can enjoy this live centerpiece (and our live videos) all spring and summer!

Materials Needed:
– Medium to large container
– 1-2 bags of good potting soil
– Spanish Lavender
– Creeping Jenny
– Variegated Swedish Ivy (Optional)
– Lantana (Optional)

– Fill your pot with soil about 2 or 3 inches below the rim. I like to use smaller plastic containers in the bottom of my pot to help with drainage and to keep your pot light. Packing peanuts or pinecones are great for this, but you can always just fill your pot completely with soil.
– Add your plants, arranging them in the shape of a triangle. I love to stuff ‘n’ shove my containers full of plants, but you could absolutely make a stunning container garden with Lavender and Creeping Jenny alone. For more tips and trips on plant placement, watch the video below!
– Lastly, be sure to water your container every 2-3 days.



I know what you’re probably thinking–What about the ferns? Don’t worry, we’re not wasting a single thing! The Lemon Butter Ferns don’t enjoy the sun quite as much as the other plants do, however, they make really great indoor plants, and could also work on a covered porch.


How lovely is this blue and white pot? Chinoiserie is a design after my own heart. It looks especially nice against the orange of the accent table.

Watch the video below for tips on how to water your outdoor containers.

Watering your containers the right way!

Quick tip for easy, mess-free watering of your containers!

Posted by Carmen Johnston Gardens on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

As you have probably noticed by now, we are currently excited about all things live–from centerpieces to the new video feature on Facebook. If you want to follow along, subscribe to our videos and receive notifications whenever we go live. We look forward to chatting with you about all things green and growing throughout this spectacular season!

One of the things I look forward to most every spring is finding new containers for my plants. Every year I am so excited to see how designers update containers with fresh new colors, repurpose older designs, or reinvent them completely. While you want your plants to be the star of the show, a great container can really set the stage for them to shine. Just check out these 7 stylish containers I have added to my must-have list for this spring.
This is such a classic look in my opinion. And I love that they come in different sizes too!
7 Stylish Containers for Your Plants this Spring 2
The natural look of cedar is a great complement to any plant, especially a plant with a bright, bold color.
7 Stylish Containers for Your Plants this Spring 3
How gorgeous is this planter? And it can obviously serve several other purposes later on, including housing your towels by the pool.
7 Stylish Containers for Your Plants this Spring 4
I have always been a fan of using tin containers as a contrast to the feminine look of whatever flowers you choose. This planter also has wheels, which is definitely a plus!
7 Stylish Containers for Your Plants this Spring 5
While this is clearly not a container, it is certainly a great way to put all your current containers on display. I adore the eclectic feel of all these different pots and plants grouped together.
7 Stylish Containers for Your Plants this Spring 6
Talk about classic! I would love to have two of these beauties on either side of my entryway as a way to frame my front door.
7 Stylish Containers for Your Plants this Spring 8
Wall planters are such a fun way to bring life to an otherwise bare wall. And I’m convinced that the industrial-look will never go out of style.
7 Stylish Containers for Your Plants this Spring 7

I am so excited to continue growing my container collection this spring, because I truly believe you can never have too many. I am always on the lookout for new ways to display my plants. Comment below and let me know what new containers you are excited to use this spring, or what oldies-but-goodies you look forward to bringing back each year.

Happy almost spring, everyone! This green-thumb gal can’t wait!

Welcome, gardening newbies! I hope this post will enable you to get your garden started. And while I have created this post with beginners in mind, seasoned experts are always welcome. Gardening is all about growth, and there is nothing wrong with seeking a little advice every now and then.

Today, I am sharing with you all eight gardening tools that will help you help your garden grow. I believe these tools are essential, whether you are a fresh-faced newbie or have been cleaning dirt out from under your nails for years.

8 Gardening Tools for Beginners 21. Squeegee bucket – As you have probably noticed, tending a garden takes a few different tools. Having a bucket on hand makes all the difference when you need to haul them all around. Doubles as a watering can too. Trust me on this one—it’s worth it!

2. Gloves – The most important tools in the garden are your hands, which is why you need to protect them with a good pair of gloves. I like for my gloves to be fitted so that I can really feel the plants that I am working with. Second skin garden gloves are the absolute best! They are crazy comfortable and they dry really fast.

8 Gardening Tools for Beginners 3

3. Garden hose – Even beginners know that plants need lots of water to stay alive. The easiest and most effective way to keep your garden nice and green is with a garden hose. Any hose will do, but I just had to go with the Premium Garden Hose from Frontgate. The copper color is so stylish!

4. Tarp – A tarp may not seem like a necessity, but gardening can create such a mess. I always keep a cloth tarp on hand for any spontaneous planting projects. Just plop ‘n’ drop one wherever you feel like planting and it will help make cleanup that much quicker.

8 Gardening Tools for Beginners 4

5. Boots – Having a good pair of boots in the garden is important for a couple of reasons. For one, they keep your feet dry, and if you are anything like me you cannot stand having wet feet. A good pair of boots also gives your body support and keeps you from slipping and falling. Lastly, boots are cute! I am a huge fan of Hunter rain boots and I want a pair in every color and every design.

6. Pruner – One of my favorite things about gardening is sniping ‘n’ clipping blooms. There is nothing quite like a house full of fresh flowers, and the PowerGear2 Pruner by Fiskars is my go-to partner in crime.

8 Gardening Tools for Beginners 5

7. Yard butler – A yard butler is like a gardener’s double-edged sword—one side is a trowel and the other side is a tapered pick. My absolute favorite is the Manufactum forged short hoe, which works double duty by allowing you to loosen soil and dig new holes without ever switching tools.

8. Tray – I am always looking for ways to incorporate more copper elements into my garden. So why not use a copper tray? A tray is great for giving your plants a place to drink before planting. Just add a little bit of water to the bottom and your plants will be good to go.

8 Gardening Tools for Beginners 1

Investing in quality gardening tools is like purchasing well-made clothing—it might cost you more upfront, but, like your wardrobe, you want tools that last!

Photos: Mercy Morecraft

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and I thought that, with all you crazy love bugs out there getting ready to pop the big question, a post about wedding florals might come in handy real soon.

© 6 of Four Photography

I did the florals for this stunning wedding at Lake Burton last July. With the hot, hot heat of summer all around, the white, cream, and champagne color palette could not have been more refreshing.

© 6 of Four Photography

I just love how the greenery looks extra lush against the light and airy backdrop it provides.

© www.haleysheffield.com_0071

And just look at that classic table setting! Who doesn’t love Royal Crown Derby Blue Aves?

Weddings, though wonderful, can also be extremely stressful. However, deciding what and how and where to arrange your florals doesn’t have to be. Here are a few simple suggestions to help you plan and prepare florals for your big day:

1. Pick Your Palette – Work with 2-3 primary colors, playing off each one.

© 6 of Four Photography

2. Plan Your Placement – During a wedding, especially the reception, guests tend to gravitate to certain “hot spots.” These are the areas you want to highlight the most. When choosing where to place arrangements also consider what will look best in photos. After all, photos are how you will remember your special day.

© 6 of Four Photography

3. Repurpose Your Bouquets – After the ceremony is over, your bridesmaids are going to want to free up their hands for all of the eating and dancing and toasting that’s about to go down. Don’t let those beautiful bouquets go to waste, though! They transition perfectly into tabletop bouquets during the reception, and they always look great around the cake table or near the food.

© 6 of Four Photography

4. Choose Your Florals – Hydrangeas are my go-to suggestion for wedding florals because they cover more space–and look great doing it!

© 6 of Four Photography

5. Surprise Your Guests – There is nothing sadder than a dumpster full flowers. Trust me, there isn’t. At the end of the night, surprise your guests by giving your arrangements away instead. Use zip ties to keep smaller arrangements together throughout the day.

Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to sharing more tips for wedding day florals with you all very soon. A huge thanks to the Patterson’s for allowing me to surround them with beautiful flowers on their wedding day.

Photos: 6 of Four Photography

I have really enjoyed sharing some of my favorite gardening books with all of you. I hope that these posts have inspired you to find some inspiring books of your own. This is my final book post (for now), but I hope to find new favorites to share with you in the future.

The Best Gardening Books: "The Complete Garden Handbook"

I can’t think of a better book to end this series on than The Complete Garden Handbook.

The Best Gardening Books: "The Complete Garden Handbook"

The information is incredibly useful, but the illustrations are my absolute favorite. I just love the simplicity. Such a stunning approach to educating first-time gardeners and seasoned experts alike.

The Best Gardening Books: "The Complete Garden Handbook"

Comment and let me know how you enjoyed this series. Which of the seven books did you like best?

The Best Gardening Books: "The Complete Garden Handbook"

Photos: The Photography of Haley Sheffield

Four months ago I started the series “The Best Gardening Books” to share some of my favorite gardening reads with all of you. Since then, I have shared a total of five books, from Carolyne Roehm’s Flowers to Nicolai Bergmann’s Florescence. With only two books left to share, I thought it was time to finally introduce you all to this little gem–Private Gardens of Georgia by Polly McLeod Mattox and Helen Mattox Bost.

The Best Gardening Books: "Private Gardens of Georgia" by Polly McLeod Mattox and Helen Mattox Bost

The stunning gardens captured by Erica George Dines are truly something to see for yourself. Flipping through the pages and seeing the private gardens photographed in this book is like being invited on a secret tour of some extraordinary world.

The Best Gardening Books: "Private Gardens of Georgia" by Polly McLeod Mattox and Helen Mattox Bost

The Best Gardening Books: "Private Gardens of Georgia" by Polly McLeod Mattox and Helen Mattox Bost

So much beauty, so much lush!

What are some of your favorite gardening books? I am always looking for new ones to add to my shelf.

Photos: The Photography of Haley Sheffield

I have another fabulous gardening book for you all today. “The Layered Garden” by David L. Culp is a key ingredient in my collection, one that every gardener needs. I am often an advocate for breaking the rules when it comes to gardening, but layers are to gardening what salt is to cooking–add a little bit here and there and, just like that, everything looks better. I could not possibly offer you better proof than the photos in this book.

The Best Gardening Books: "The Layered Garden" by David L. Culp 1

The Best Gardening Books: "The Layered Garden" by David L. Culp 2

I can sum up the importance of creating layers in just three words: layers equal texture.

The Best Gardening Books: "The Layered Garden" by David L. Culp 3

I would encourage all you lovely gardeners to check out this book for more incredible photos that further prove my layer theory, which is basically that you need them in your garden. End of story.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! There is certainly a lot to celebrate! And speaking of layers, how about making dear ol’ dad his favorite cake? You know, for Father’s Day, which just so happens to be the FIRST DAY OF SUMMER too! Enjoy!

Photos: The Photography of Haley Sheffield

Today I am taking you back to the basics–the basics of container gardening, that is. You probably know by now how passionate I am about this type of gardening. The reason being that it is so darn simple! I want anyone and everyone to know that they can have a garden and it doesn’t have to require a ton of time, money, or space. That is what container gardening is all about, which is why I want to share with you five tips for making your own.

1. Fill ’em up!
Give your plants plenty to drink before planting and they will last much longer.

2. Don’t skimp on soil!
Quality container gardens call for quality soil.

3. Drain, baby, drain!
Good drainage is key for container gardening. When choosing your container make sure that there are plenty of holes for draining.

4. Three T’s are better than one!
Tall, thick, and trailing–it doesn’t get more simple than that. This is a timeless recipe for a fabulous-looking container garden.

5. It’s basic geometry!
Take your Three T’s and plant them in the shape of a triangle and your container garden is complete! Math has never been quite this easy.

Gardening made easy, right? I’m betting you’re a believer now too.

Have a great week!

28 Container Gardens for Spring 7

If you missed our 28 Container Gardening for Spring Series, check out all of the ideas here!

Photos: The Photography of Haley Sheffield

I am all about practical gardening books, like Heirloom Fruits & Vegetables and On Garden Style. However, my reason for sharing today’s gardening book is all about the gardener’s unique and innovative designs. Whenever I feel stuck or uninspired in my work, the images in Nicolai Bergmann’s Florescence gives me all the permission I need to break the rules.

The Best Gardening Books: "Florescence" by Nicolai Bergmann featured on Carmen Johnston Gardens

The Best Gardening Books: "Florescence" by Nicolai Bergmann featured on Carmen Johnston Gardens

Mesmerizing, isn’t it? Have you ever seen anything else like it?

I am also a huge fan of his use of bold colors, which is why I’m sharing this particular book today. Summer is on its way and it is time to bring out the boldest and brightest!

The Best Gardening Books: "Florescence" by Nicolai Bergmann featured on Carmen Johnston Gardens

These images barely scratch the surface of the creativity captured in the rest of this book. I recommend it to anyone who is ready and willing to think outside the pot.

Have a great week! I hope to see you back here real soon.

The Best Gardening Books

Be sure to check out these other GreatGardening Books reviews!

Photos: The Photography of Haley Sheffield