Outdoor plant containers: your garden's character actors
Add character to your outdoors with container gardens.
A character actor can add drama, quirkiness or a splash of brightness to a Hollywood movie or a Broadway play. It's the same role a container garden can play on a balcony, deck or one of those vast expanses of green around your home.
So consider yourself something of a director when choosing the "personality" of your container and its contents.
Will you go quirky (think Seth Rogen) or opt for something more subdued (perhaps Laura Linney)? Will you go neon green with sweet-potato vines or mix it up with purples and yellows? Before you head over to the garden center, get a little coaching from a couple of gardening experts on how to create blockbuster potted gardens.
Think color: "Decide on a color palette you like," said Barb Pierson, nursery manager at White Flower Farm (whiteflowerfarm.com), a Connecticut-based garden center/mail-order nursery. She favors conservative choices, but "if you're wild and crazy and like a rainbow," go for it. Just don't let the color mix become a hodgepodge.
Want that container to be a trendsetter? Yellow is making a splash this year, said Connie Rivera, owner of City Escape Garden Center & Design Studio (cityescape.net) in Chicago, especially in soft yellow-orange combinations.
Shape it up: A general design rule is "one vertical element, two bushy plants that grow up and out, and two cascading plants," Pierson said. "One of my new favorites (is) Dichondra 'Silver Falls' with tiny silver leaves. ... Over the course of the summer, it just goes crazy. It looks Venetian."
And mix it up. "Make sure your two fillers are different," Pierson said. For example, team a plant with feathery foliage, such as dill, with the coarser leaves of a large coleus.
Practical considerations will determine the pot you buy: heavy if it's on a balcony that gets a lot of wind, light if you plan to move it around. Major point: Be sure it has drainage holes in the bottom.
Pierson recommends choosing two similar containers because repetition "gives you consistency and is very pleasing to the eye." If your budget is cramped, think about choosing one glamorous pot, then buy less-expensive resin or plastic pots in colors that complement the star.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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