I recently had the pleasure of visiting with Sharon Smith of Thompson + Hanson nursery in Houston. Thompson + Hanson is one of the leading nurseries in Houston. They have a wonderful retail space and an outstanding landscape design business. Sharon works at the retail location and, until very recently, was the sole designer of all of the lovely potted arrangements that you see when you walk around the nursery.
Creating perfect pots requires more than skill; it also requires the proper tools. Sharon learned long ago that there were very few tools out there that were designed for her trade. So she took it upon herself to invent some. One of her potting ideas has now led her down the path of entrepreneurism.
Just like most of us, the first thing Sharon does before filling her pots is cover the drain hole. For a long time, she would spend way too much time looking for the perfect pot shard or rock to cover the hole. Then, once she found it, she still had had to worry about water and soil coming out of the bottom of her pot if she overwatered. Now for us homeowners, this is a minor inconvenience. But for Sharon, this was a major problem. Sharon’s arrangements are displayed and sold off of zinc topped tables. All of that leaking water/soil mixture created a very unattractive mess that took away from the display and required constant cleaning. She decided to find a solution.
Sharon’s solution is a product called CoCo2. CoCo2 is a bag full of square cocoa fiber (coir) mats that are designed to cover the drain holes in most pots. CoCo2 is a simple as it is practical, plus it is ecologically friendly and 100% renewable. It is also made by people with special needs that prevent them from working in more traditional environments.
Sharon’s coir mats allow pots to drain while trapping most of the dirt that wants to escape with the water. All of that escaping dirt can create air pockets that dry sensitive roots or water channels that drain water away from the rest of the pot. Plus, it helps maintain an even surface on the top of the pot which is very important when creating truly stunning potted “sculptures” like Sharon.
Since it is Christmas, Sharon is doing a lot of work with Paperwhites (Narcissus ziva). Her CoCo2 product has improved her work life in two ways. Since paperwhites are often planted in shallow containers that don’t use a lot of soil, it is important for the bulbs to have a uniform depth across the pot. Rocks and pot shards make this impossible because of their size. By simply placing a piece of her product over the hole, Sharon is able to provide the uniform planting depth that will allow each and every bulb to thrive.
Part of the beauty of any paperwhite arrangement is the bulb itself. Sharon has learned that bulbs that are forced in soil tend to become discolored. Because of this, she now uses her product to keep the bulbs used in her arrangements as attractive as the flowers they produce. By placing the 2” size her product in the bottom of a 2” cell, she can add just enough potting mix in the cell to supply the moisture the bulb needs without discoloring it. The bulbs root in the coir (which gives them support) and keeps the small amount of soil that she uses in place during watering. This method provides her with the 4,000 plus beautiful paperwhite bulbs that she uses in her holiday arrangements.
Sharon is a master of horticulture in every sense of the word. She can grow anything. However, it is her design skills that set her apart from other horticulturists. Her skills have earned her a dedicated following of customers that use her creations in some of the finest and most expensive homes in Houston. If you would like to create beautiful potted arrangements like Sharon, visit her website and purchase some CoCo2. (http://gardendivaproducts.com/).