Susan discusses her considerations when DESIGNING THE CONTAINERS for this home. This home was fun, it's an upscale home in a rural neighborhood but they do have challenges. There are deer to contend with, it's a shady area, thus cool underneath the overhang, she wanted to present fall colors that pop but at this time of year the plant palette is somewhat limited. So she wanted to find beautiful evergreen shrubs, perennial plants and colors that pop.
They decide to dive right in. First they move the old ferns out of the way. THE MAIN EVENT is the Black Dragon Cryptomaria. It is evergreen with lots of architectural interest. It's important to note that different plants could be utilized for the main event or "thriller." If someone wanted a different color or texture in the middle, say make this a Christmas interest container, a red berry pyracantha could be utilized, it's a nice plant. A Red Giant Mustard is utilized as a filler. Cool season vegetables should last throughout the winter, its purple foliage provides great color. They next add Pansies, another great filler. Hellebores are another plant that would would work in the fillers capacity, they are a deer resistant plant and has winter blooms, which isn't found with many plants. Next Susan and Eric add the spillers. For these, Susan has chosen several plants - Creeping Jenny provides a bright, light green, which Susan feels is important for wintertime and a variegated Ivy, Gold Child. Gold Child is a great trailing plant, the variegation provides a little brightness and importantly, it's deer resistance.
THIS CONTAINER WORKS BEAUTIFULLY in this setting. It has a simple elegance, it fits in, it looks like it belongs here. The beautiful shrub holds its own architecturally. It adds some height, it breaks up the stone wall and yet the colors are warm together. It's very inviting. The contrast of the darker colors in the pansies with the little flickers of light in the variegated Ivy provide a lot of interest, a lot of nice, rich textures. Importantly, most of the plants are perennials. So with very little work one can pull out the pansies in the spring, for example, then plant summer annuals and be set for another season. Most of the work involved with a container is getting it set or planted. It's a great idea to utilize plants that will be there year round, then simply add a handful of new plants periodically to make it season-relevant. Another great thing about this arrangement is the container itself, the pots are beautiful. These pots are Vietnamese pottery, they're frost proof which is a fabulous asset in these hills where it does freeze occasionally. Susan also utilized a great soil mix. It has moisture retention crystals which makes watering easier, an important consideration since under a roof. Containers do use a fair amount of water and the crystals provide a little more time before getting the hose out, thus it's a nice timesaver. The containers have done a lot to warm this area up. When walking down the path to the house they make the entrance look inviting. Sometimes it's the little touches that spruce up an area. The little bistro table and chairs are an example, they add a nice touch. Eric can see himself siting there with a newspaper and coffee and enjoying the morning out in the open. Another nice touch Susan incorporated is the wonderful little container. The container is complimentary but has different plants, it's filled with edibles. The herbs and vegetables will last all winter and since it's located in reasonable proximity to the kitchen, it's functional and convenient.
By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
Labor Day may represent summer’s unofficial close but now is a perfect opportunity to add late-summer perennials that will continue to beautify your landcare until fall arrives. click here for an article that identifies 9 perennials for late summer.
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