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Rainbow in bloom: Potted annuals complement perennials

Alpena man creates a colorful new garden every year

News Photos by Darby Hinkley Jason Werda points to a red climbing mandevilla plant, explaining that he will set up a taller trellis for the climber to wrap itself around as it grows.

ALPENA — Flower gardening is not only an artistic outlet for this man — it’s a peaceful passion.

Each spring and summer, Jason Werda decorates his yard at 811 S. 5th Ave. with a colorful display of flowers, from annuals to perennials to creepers to climbers in pots and baskets and beds.

“It keeps me out of trouble,” he said with a laugh.

He loves gardening, and sees it as a creative outlet to express himself.

“I experiment with the flowers,” Werda said. “I put them together and see what I can come up with.”

Jason Werda’s home at 811 S. 5th Ave. in Alpena features 39 colorful annuals in pots and hanging baskets, in addition to a variety of perennials planted in the front and back yards.

Each year, he decides which annuals to pot and creates his own combinations of colors and flower types in each pot and hanging basket.

“I’ve got color all year, all around,” he said of his garden.

The varieties he chooses depend on his vision, but also on what’s available from year to year.

“I stay away from short-lived flowers like lilies — they like to choke everything out around them,” he said. “I used to have some on the side of the house here but I pulled them out.”

He goes for a variety of colors that have a long blooming season, and he creates height and dimension with potted plants on tables and bricks, as well as using climbing flowers on trellises for added height as they climb upward.

Above is a red dahlia planted with white hydrangea, a contrast Werda enjoys.

“They flower frost through fall,” he said of the red flowers on the trellis by his garage. “That’s mandevilla.”

He has to add a higher trellis and train them around the new trellis and tie them on with zip ties.

Werda loves contrast, such as planting dark red dahlias with a white hydrangeas in his front yard. He also likes to plant climbers and creepers together, such as his red mandevillas (a climber) with creeping jenny that will hang over the base of the raised pot.

As for why he uses raised pots on glass tables, Werda just said he likes it because it’s different. He tries unique things from year to year, such as growing sunflowers in hanging baskets.

“It takes 30 bags of cypress mulch, just around the perennials every year,” he said, noting that he has edging and landscaping around all his flower beds. He also has some creatively fashioned pots, such as a pair made out of rubber tires.

This yellow flower is potted on Werda’s front porch.

Werda has been gardening since about 2001, he said.

He upgraded to cast iron tables with beveled glass several years ago, and he continues to get more pots each year of various sizes.

“With the pots, you’ve got a different look every year,” he said.

He said gardening takes patience.

“It took five years before that one rosebush had a rose on it,” he noted.

The purple flowers here are one of the 39 potted plants in Werda’s garden.

Another gardening tip is to snip off the dead parts, or to “dead head” the buds down to the next point of greenery, so that new buds appear, Werda said.

“I continue to dead head everything all the time,” he said. “It keeps them coming back.”

He noted that putting slug and snail food on the hastas in the spring will prevent holes in the leaves.

Werda invites people to drive or walk by to see his garden, which he creates for everyone’s enjoyment.

“It’s interesting to see the new colors come out each day,” he said. “They’ll only do for you as good as you do for them,” he said of his flowers. “I pay a lot of attention to them, and right now they’re getting huge, but the colors are just getting started. And like I said, I have three more months left.”

Above is a photo of last year’s pink hibiscus moscheutos, which will bloom to about 12 inches across this month, Werda said.

Darby Hinkley is Lifestyles editor. She can be reached at 989-358-5691 or dhinkley@thealpenanews.com.

Here are green jewel echinacea coneflowers.

Here is a large potted jade plant. Werda drilled holes in the bottom of this huge wooden pot and put it up on bricks for drainage. He said a drainage system is essential for all potted plants to thrive.

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