Wind just destroyed months of time and effort

I live in a Condo where they encourage owners to personalize the outside with container gardens. They even let you plant your own stuff in your bedding areas.
I have several containers with flowers. Two of them are heavy ceramic 16-17" sized containers with tall sunflowers in them. They were growing beautifully, with dozens and dozens of buds. I also had an over-the-railing window box on my deck filled with Music Box sunflowers (2 feet tall) that had just come into full bloom.
I planted EVERYTHING directly from seed on May 15, and nursed them with daily watering, regular fertilizing, insecticide, and fungicide treatments. I spend probably three hours a day watering and caring for them.
Since yesterday morning at 8:00 am until today right now, I have been frantically running around like a madman trying to stop the wind from destroying these flowers. It's just non stop, gail force sustained gusting. It seems it isn't touching any of the neighbor's stuff, then again, they don't have tall sunflowers. There isn't even any kind of weather advisory right now or anything (I am west Michigan), and the forecast says nothing about high winds. Yet outside my window, there are huge winds ripping into my containers.
One ceramic container of sunflowers got blown over and smashed into a million pieces. I went to Lowe's and got a larger 20" foam container, weighted it down with two heavy concrete foundation wall blocks, then transplanted them into the new pot. The wind blew it over again. I then had to try and get creative in figuring out how to weight it down. I got four foundation blocks, put two ratcheting tie down straps underneath them, put the pot on top of them, put the sunflowers back up again (not easy, as soon as I set them in the pot the non stop wind would send them instantly sideways, holding them in position was like playing tug of war), put three more foundation blocks on top of the pot, then tied the whole thing together with the ratcheting tie downs (the straps used to tie motorcycles and atv's down to pickups). The whole thing now looks like the flower container version of Frankenstein's monster. It's a husk of what it once was.
As to the deck railing planter of music box sunflowers, I looked outside the window today, and they were gone! The wind had actually picked them up and carried them down about 24 feet away from my deck. The railing planter smashed into a million pieces. I propped up the root bound dirt and went to Frank's and could only find another container in a different color than all the others I have. Took what I could get. Set the flowers down in the new planter, put it back out on the deck (not easy, my deck doesn't have stairs, had to carry it up a hill and through the house), tied it down with bungee cords to the rail, with the cords going over the top to hold the flowers in.
It got picked up and carried off again. This time the bungee cord kept hold and it ended up dangling from the edge of the deck. Had to get a ladder to pick it back up, couldn't hold on to it though as I cut the bungee cord, and it fell. Picked it back up again and put it in the container, which didn't shatter this time, then put it back out and tied it down this time with the ratcheting tie down. Only had two, so used one on this container, and one on the other container of music box sunflowers that hadn't got blown off yet.
A third container of sunflowers also got blown over. The heavy ceramic container that it's in didn't get broken, so I picked it back up. I fastened it with bungee cords to the only thing that I could find that was close to it, a shepherd's hook. It's double ended with one side having a hanging pot and the other side nudged in between some bricks on the house to hold it straight.
It got blown over again. The bungee cord was simply stretched from the shepherd's hook over to the container. Put it back, fastened it again with more bungee cords. The bricks that were holding the hook strait chipped, now the shepherd's hook lost its support. Forced it back in between the bricks further down so that it's slightly crooked now. It also has a tendency to pop out easy now, so it's very likely this container will get blown over a third time, taking the shepherd's hook with it.
After this, one of the sunflowers in this container got snapped in half by the non stop gusting wind.
Keep in mind, these are very heavy ceramic containers filled with 6-7 foot tall plants. When I say I picked it back up, it wasn't easy. I am alone, no wife and neighbors don't help, just stand there gawking.
The winds are still out there gusting, I wonder which of my hard work will get destroyed next. I wonder if the stuff I did will hold. I wonder if the stems will snap. Anyways, the stuff that I set back up got pretty wrecked. I had smaller flowers like pansies and violas and other stuff planted around the outer rims that was just starting to bloom, of course that's all smashed and lost now.
I guess I just need someplace to vent. Thanks for reading if you've read all this.
I should ask, I can't be the only one who has ever fought an epic battle like this. I may not grow plants any more, I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown after these two days. How do you cope? Is there anything you can do to fasten down containers with tall plants? Anyone have any techniques to share?
Right now, I'm thinking if I do plant containers next year, I will bolt down the window boxes. Will make emptying them in the fall harder. If I do tall plants like sunflowers in large ceramic containers again, I'm thinking of using the technique of fastening the container down to four foundation blocks underneath it using the ratchet tie down. I could get a black one maybe, that might not look too bad.
Anyway thanks for reading if you made it through all this.
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That exhausted me just reading about it. I dont think i would try to fix something while the wind was still blowing. I hope someone can give you real answers. I feel your pain losing everything you grew from seed. Good luck.
On Sat, 26 Jul 2003 22:50:16 -0400, Pelvis Popcan

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I really feel bad for you. But I'm puzzled over something - if it was so bad out, why fight the battle - just take them inside. That's what I'd do.
JWB

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Hey Pelvis, Jeeze I'm sorry all your hard work was ruined. Don't give up though. I agee that the conatiners should have been taken inside. Is there anywhere else to put your plants? Maybe next year plant lower growing things and definitely secure the planters.
--
Jayel.
"Pelvis Popcan" < snipped-for-privacy@gmREMOVEx.net> wrote in message
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Absolutely no room whatsoever. Garage is full of crap that I need to get cleared out. And we're talking about moving several hundred pound sized containers. Don't have anyone around her to help. The things weigh so much, it's hard to believe they can get blown over. I never would have imagined anything like this. But I guess it's all about leverage, sunflower leaves act like sails, throw enough of them up on strong staked stems high enough, and it takes less power to tip the container. The foundation blocks coupled to the base of the pot will widen the base and will hopefully triple to quadruple the weight of the container.
Downtown they have trees planted in containers. I wonder how those stay up... probably bolted down.

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In article snipped-for-privacy@gmREMOVEx.net says...

I'm on the other side of the lake in Chicago and we've been experiencing wind too. I have my pots just sitting on the top of the wall and so far (knock on wood), no wind has been able to knock them over. Pots with soil have a pretty low center of gravity. That said, you might want to see if there is some sort of (I don't know how to describe this) tunnel effect causing the wind to be directed at your plants. What I mean is like downtown Chicago, the wind blowing between two skyscrapers or buildings will be at a much higher velocity than the actual wind because of the way pressure works in enclosed spaces. Sometimes this can cause very severe gusts.
Although it could be just the weather. There are some parks in Chicago where hundred year old trees were just flattened everywhere just due to the recent wind (I.e. no tornado). Other parts not far away, like where I live, didn't experience a tenth of that force. It has been a very strange month weather-wise.
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poplars; and Michigan and not Memphis, where much of the city is still without power from Tuesday's storm. It's an El Nino year, there will be strange weather.
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On Sat, 26 Jul 2003 22:50:16 -0400, Pelvis Popcan

Yes. Don't grow 6 to 7 foot tall sunflowers. The leaves catch the wind...that's why deciduous trees can tolerate winter winds...they lose their leaves in autumn...leaves which would literally rip them up out of the ground like a parachute.
Sunflowers also have a "support group" in their native habitat...thousands of other surrounding sunflowers supporting each other.
Dan
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Believe me, you are not alone.
You had three containers with two months of growth get beaten up. I know how heartbreaking it is. But, think of the people who have trees that have been in their families for generations that get blown down. Or think of the farmer who loses an entire crop to an act of nature, like fire, floods, swarms, or yes, high winds, or tornados! And think of the people who lose entire homes! There was a windstorm in Michigan in 1998 that wasn't a tornado or hurricane, just REALLY strong wind that destroyed houses.
I'm not trying to belittle your post, just hopefully making you feel not so bad! Think of it this way, they're just plants, if they get wrecked, just pitch the things rather than literally fighting an epic several-day-long battle. You can then go to your local Franks, Lowe's, or other nursery and get some new smaller plants to put in the empty containers that won't get blown over for the rest of the summer! They'll complement your hand-sown containers that survived. ;)
Strong winds blowing things over is very likely to happen to any gardener. Every summer will have a windstorm at some point like you describe. So, now you've learned to expect it and you can take precautions.
Bolting down the windowboxes sounds great. Make sure you use enough bolts, put two on each end and in the middle for your over-the-railing containers.
The ratcheting tie downs / foundation blocks sounds like a very creative idea! For existing containers it sounds like it would work great. Widening the base is definitely the way to combat the leverage effect. A couple of things to consider though - if the four bricks are sitting in an X pattern, there should be some pipe or perhaps some THICK cut plant stakes forming an X in between the bricks. You also should lay some waterproof lining underneath it to help keep moisture from the bottom of the pot soaking the straps every time you water.
For a new pot, I'd recommend bolting the bottom of the container down to the bricks. To make holes, use a hammerdrill and a masonry drill bit. Drill four holes in the bottom of the container an inch from the edge forming a X. Set it on the bricks, then mark the bricks. Take the bricks out, and drill holes in the bricks. Put them back under the container, line up the holes, and use masonry bolts and washers to bolt on the bricks.
You'll get better coupling and no unsightly straps coming down from the sides of the pot. In the fall, just dig out the dirt until the bolts are exposed, and unbolt. Use new bricks next year.
You should only have to do that for the large containers with tall plants (sunflowers).
You can also use your masonry drill bit to make a hole in some smaller bricks, you can then insert tall plant stakes into these and put them on the bottom of the container before filling with dirt. Just make sure the center drainage hole is clear after all this! :)
Don't let those ridiculous posts about bringing 10 foot tall sunflowers in heavy containers inside get to you! :p
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