Kozlowski shared his unusual container plantings, vegetable gardens and flower beds during the Black Rock & Riverside Tour of Gardens on August 4. The event also featured a Starry Night Garden Tour in the evening.
Kozlowski grows colonnade apple trees, a type that grows straight up and stays short. You can see them in the photo at left. He harvests the apples, but didn’t get as many this year because of the damaging thaw and freeze cycle we had in spring.
In the photo at right you can see peaches peeking through the leaves on a tree that is less than three feet tall.
While Kozlowski has roomy front and backyards, using containers allows him to line his driveway and side porch area with flowers and other plants.
However, potted trees are more susceptible to freezing than are trees that are planted in the ground. During the winter, Kozlowski places the potted apple and peach trees in his unheated garage to protect them. If you want to grow perennials in pots, you should consider whether you have a spot that’s protected enough for them during the winter.
He uses both practical and whimsical containers for his plants. The peach tree is grown in an ordinary plastic garbage can. Tomatoes are planted in old enameled soup pots. At the beginning of this story, you can see the blue wagon that someone threw out that now holds flowers, and next to it is an old bed that Kozlowski converted into another flower container.
Even more fruits and vegetables are planted in beds in his backyard: grapes, broccoli, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins, as well as green, yellow, red and purple sweet peppers. The peppers are doing well, but some of the other plants seem to be suffering from the heat, he said.
A small tiled patio is part of the wide border garden in the backyard, which you can see above left. Behind the table and chairs and to the right, berries are ripening on the tall elderberry bush.
“They’re good if you can get them before birds do,” Kozlowski said. He has used the berries for wine, pie and jam.
When planting, he adds 10/10/10 fertilizer to the soil.
Here’s a brief explanation of the numbers on a bag of fertilizer: The first number is the amount of nitrogen (N), the second number is the amount of phosphate (P2O5) and the third number is the amount of potash (K2O). These three numbers represent the primary nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). A bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphate and 10 percent potash. Read more at the website of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
However, what does work, he said, is black plastic, which you can see above right. He lays the black plastic down to keep the soil warm and to keep the weeds down. He uses a thick gauge plastic, 6 mils, because lighter plastic gets ripped apart in the wind.
You need to make holes in the plastic so that you can insert your plants. His son, Wally Kozlowski Jr., was using a steel rod to make one hole at a time, but found it was much quicker to use a pitchfork and make several holes at a time.
The front yard, above left, is also lovely, with a lush flower bed with hanging baskets. A lovely hibiscus blooms near the windows.