In The Garden Now ... Going To Pot - for summer color, that is

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Text and photos by Victoria Gilleland

Adding a splash of color with some planted pots is a great way to brighten an area where you can’t or don’t want to plant a garden bed.

Container plantings are wonderful on decks, patios and porches as well as along sidewalks and paths and even within a planted garden area. Containers often elevate special plantings so that they are closer to eye level where they are more easily seen and enjoyed. 

I’m often asked to share my favorite container plant combinations. The truth is no two years are the same. I’m always experimenting with new plants, containers, and locations in the garden.

For the past several years I’ve enjoyed incorporating various begonia varieties in my container gardens so I guess I’d have to say they’re my favorites right now. Some have fabulous variegated and textured foliage that becomes more interesting as the season progresses. Many of the Rex Begonias make good houseplants through winter and can be returned to the outdoors when the weather warms in spring.  

My planted garden pots are sometimes featured alone but more often in groups of three or more along with a decorative item to make a cohesive design statement. The pots are often of different sizes, shapes and colors. Plants included are usually a mix of annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees. Many plants are destined for other locations in the garden after a season or two growing in pots.

The planting above is actually made up of 6 different containers with different plants in each … Dragon Wing Pink Begonia, Variegated Swedish Ivy, Variegated Rex Begonia, Carex ‘Everillo’ a mounding grass, Golden Creeping Jenny, ‘Plum Crazy’ Oxalis, a dwarf hosta along with some miniature ferns. Japanese Forest Grass is peeking out of the pot on the left. 

Placement in the garden is very important because I depend on background plants, as well as hardscape items to compliment the design. The large tropical looking leaves above the Milk Can belong to a Japanese Aralia shrub which has been growing in the garden for years. The tumbled Pennsylvania Bluestone with moss growing between the stones along with the wood chip path add texture. The weathered red Milk Can made its way to our garden from an estate sale on Whidbey Island.  

Don’t be afraid to mix it up when you’re putting together a container garden. Combine a variety of plants with an interesting found object for a true garden surprise. Keep on having fun while you garden!

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


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