Contented Containers

As someone who has spent much of his adult life living in an urban setting, container plantings have been a blessing to me. I have a green thumb and a deep love of plants and flowers, but no land upon which to sow any seeds or plant any plants. To satisfy my plant urges, I've turned again and again to container gardening as a solution. Among the benefits of container gardening is the portability factor; you can arrange and rearrange your collection of potted plants on your deck or balcony as often as you wish. You can bring some of the plants indoors to over-winter them and you can pair plants and make unusual groupings within the same vessel to create your own unique collection of favourites. Below are some lovely examples.

A massive composition of potted plants like this looks stunning with its textures, colours and levels. You can mix tropicals with perennials, larger trees with smaller pots of flowers and exercise your imagination as you explore colour, pattern and placement.
A splash of pink adds charm to this concrete urn. Pink mandevilla mingles with matching bold caladium and a frilly silver licorice plant.
Globed barrel cacti contrast beautifully with the spiky mescal agave. These can reside indoors most of the year and be placed outdoors in the summer to lend an unexpected element to a patio.
Height and a limited palette of reds and silvery greens provide drama without overstatement: Red Abyssinian banana, Purple New Zealand flax, Casa Blanca Oriental lily, Nicky K dahlia, Dusty miller, English ivy, Blue fescue, Red bedding dahlia, Sizzler Burgundy salvia, Coral bougainvillea, Lion's ear, Honey bush and Meteor sedum.
A stunning collection of plants achieves drama and impact: Western mugwort, 'Margarita' sweet potato vine, 'Profusion Orange' zinnia, Dracaena, 'Snoho Wonder' dahlia, 'Intrigue' canna, 'Sonata' petunia and 'Rubiginosa' alternanthara.
Polly African mask, Dragon Wing pink begonia, caladium, golden creeping jenny and Summer Wave amethyst wishbone flower look exotic and alluring in a rustic wooden window box.
The striking silhouette of a variegated American agave is adorned by a skirt of pink ice plant (Lampranthus deltoides).
Even the humble tulip is elevated to new status when grouped tightly together in a pairing of terra cotta pots.


Anonymous said...

I love container gardening as well! Especially for herbs and small fruit. Did you see her "do it yourself" planters in the March issue of MSL? I'm so there. -Renee


Yes, Renee, that's what inspired this post. I love the gardening issue. It always gets me back into the soil - even if it's potted soil!

Ailsa said...

Lovely plantings. I must say though that I am moving away from overly complicated combinations. As I get older (!) I seem to be craving simpler displays, so that my containers now have no more than 2 or 3 plants/colours in each, mostly contrasting foliage colours, texture and form. I find it more soothing and more of a challenge to find the perfect combinations. What do you think Andrew?


I'm with you, Ailsa. It can be a fun challenge to get some really interesting pairings but it can also be satisfying to have one, single beautiful plant to showcase. It's also nice mixing several one-plant pots with one or two multi-plant pots for contrast.