Friday, February 01, 2008

Planning Spring and Summer Containers

We're deep into the Winter months here in North Carolina, and I have been pouring through plant and seed catalogues planning for the coming Spring. One area I plan to focus more attention this year is on my containers. Punchy sent me a wonderful book entitled Containers that has beautiful pictures and great ideas. I look forward to putting that knowledge to use this year. I also got some good inspiration from the Biltmore House this past Summer. I took some photos to use as reference for my own creations.

This smaller scale arrangement does a nice job combining the contrasting colors and textures of the silver dusty miller and the two-tone greenery of the center plant. I don't know the name of the center plant, but a hosta or fern would work in its place if you can't find this exact plant. The splash of pink is quite lovely, and could be achieved with any number of different annuals including; cosmos, pansies, petunias or impatiens. Dusty miller can grow to be very tall, so you would need to keep pinching it back to keep it in check.

biltmore planter

Another smaller scale arrangement that combines contrasting colors and textures to achieve a nice unified balance. You could use a decorative grass or yucca in place of the spikey cordyline as the center plant if you cannot find cordyline. It is usually found in the houseplant section of nurseries. I like the silver artemesia that is used for contrast. There are numerous types of artemesia that could be used depending on availability in your area.

biltmore planter

This hanging basket uses caladiums as the anchor plant. What a novel idea. It would need to be placed in a very shady spot and kept well-watered since caladiums tend to wilt quickly in the Summer sun. You can purchase caladiums as bulbs or growing plants at your local nursery. The plant that is spilling over the side is a form of dichondra and is very popular in container arrangements, but it can be hard to find since it sells out quickly. If you cannot find this plant, you could use any type of weeping plant in its place, including; ivy, thyme, periwinkle, sweet potato vine or nasturtiums.

biltmore planter

Biltmore has a spectacular display of very large containers, most of which are not suited for the typical garden, but there are still some interesting elements that can be modified for a smaller container.

The use of a large potted palm with smaller accent plants is attractive to me. There is a lot of interest in this arrangement, and it keeps the eye moving from plant to plant to create a nice effect.

biltmore planter

Here is a larger palm with an electric blue accent plant, possibly this blue form of Superbells from Proven Winners.

biltmore planter

The plants are just jam-packed into this container to provide a nice medley of hot colors and texture.

biltmore planter

This is a softer spin on the previous container arrangement. The designer is still using reds and burgundies, but they are much easier on the eye.

biltmore planter

Lantana gives this arrangement a fuller, bulkier appearance than the previous arrangements.

biltmore planter

I have so many ideas in my head now that there is no way I can put them all into action, but I look forward to trying out some new ideas this year.

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