Container Planting: Garden Designers Roundtable

Container Planting: Garden Designers Roundtable

This month the fabled and fair designers of the Roundtable are waxing eloquent about container gardens, and I couldn't wait to sign up with my colleagues to write this one! I container garden on my own 150 square foot balcony, and create potted gardens for many of my clients as well. What I love about this kind of gardening is that anyone, anywhere, can do it, whether you're on an estate with a cabana and a pool or in an apartment with a patio or balcony like me.  Plus, regardless of your style--formal, contemporary, artsy, cottagey--container plantings can not only complement your landscape, they can be the focus of it. Here's how:This is a totally monochromatic planting with succulents in a huge glazed green pot; it's all the textures, shades of green and variety in form that provide the interest here. And don't you think it's just a gorgeous, lush look?How about an artsy, colorful garden? When you use complementary shades of pink, purple and silver in a casual arrangement, the result is striking and exuberant. Diggin' a little more formality? The owner of the house where I planted the container in the previous photo sold her house to a woman who liked more formal and elegant lines. Thank goodness a gardener came with the house! I came back and planted a yaupon topiary, and continued the formality with a choice of one flower color in the cyclamen and one spiller down the side. How about a cool contemporary look? We fabricated planters from 1/4" rolled steel for a sleek, modern sensibility and the client loooooved it. Here again, we used succulents--but see what a different look you can get depending upon the selection and arrangement!So what if you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain? If you pinky promise not to sing the song, I'll tell you. You take flowers in purple and orange, throw in some screaming lime green and you got some tropical heatwave happening on your patio! This client asks for this color combo every year, and I always feel like doing the limbo around the pool deck while I'm working.Now, if you have a little tabletop that needs some green, what's smaller than a wire wreath form lined with sheet moss and filled with 4" potted plants? Here we used a variety of succulents, but what about little pots of herbs, or tiny flowers like alyssum or violas? When the plants get a bit too big or finish their lifecycle, simply transplant or start with new seasonal flowers!

I hope you take a few minutes to tour container blog posts by our other esteemed container junkies! You are bound to learn the ins and outs of container selection, combining colors and plants, or keeping potted plants beautiful and thriving. And, as always, thank you for cruising The Garden Designer's Roundtable for a veritable plethora of garden design tidbits!

Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT Jenny Petersen: J Petersen Garden Design : Austin TX Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO Laura Livengood Schaub : Interleafings : San Jose, CA Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA Rochelle Greayer : Studio “G” : Boston, MA Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA

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  1. says

    Jenny, what a lovely tour of the different types of style you can go for. I love how your planters do have an immediate effect, but at the same time I can see they won’t be crammed or overfilled in time – a garden pet peeve of mine!! I just love the photos and your commentary on each.

  2. says

    Dude, who DOESN’T love pina coladas! num num!!!

    The wreath idea is intriguing and something I could definitely do for my patio garden!

  3. says

    Great idea to compare and contrast the same planter/location designed for different owners. Your examples really showcase your great flair for meeting your clients’ needs. Bravo!

  4. Robert Webber says

    Especially love the limbo dancing combo and the long steel planter took my breath away!
    Best Wishes

  5. says

    absolutely love the rolled steel container – i’m curious if it has a steel back against the house foundation? would love to replicate that! also like the wreath form turned upside down… clever… i’m going to have to try that too.

  6. says

    I’m in love with that steel planter box myself! What a great look, especially for Austin. But I enjoyed seeing all your different container designs–very nice!

  7. says

    LOVE your drippy drooping plants in your zone! So many of those are not hardy here and they give such a yummy texture to pots! Those succulents are succulent. 🙂

  8. says

    Thanks, all! Andrea, the steel planter does have a back to protect the house. It’s like a box with no bottom. We have an awesome metal worker, Mark Gerow, who does all of our steelwork. These planters start out that great natural steel color and then weather to a rusty patina. Gorgeous! Not cheap, but gorgeous!

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

  9. says

    Love the steel planter! I’m a sucker for metal (as if you didn’t know!)…beautiful photos, Jenny. And I won’t even say it. Okay, I lied…’if you like making love at midnight?’…ewwwwwwww!

  10. says

    Jenny Your pots are fabulous. Whether they are formal, informal. in modern format or traditional. I know you talked about size being important so pots don’t dry out in our wicked summers. I should have asked you on Saturday what medium you prefer for pots. Hope I get the chance next Garden a Go Go.

  11. says

    Susan, I have the best team to work with: a fantastic 3-man crew and foreman, a master carpenter and a talented steel worker. I could NEVER do the jobs I do without them!

    Jenny, I usually use Metro Mix with nutrients like worm castings or bat guano. Then I also add slow-release fertilizers, depending upon the types of plants I’m using–all of that food in the soil makes for very happy container plants!

    Rebecca, all I have to say is: I was tired of my lade-eh, we’d been together too long. Like a worn out recording of a favorite song!

  12. says

    Hi Jenny!

    As is the theme here, I love the steel planter and am envious of your team! Is that a Juncus in the first photo? I have been contemplating using Juncus in several pots of late.

    Embarrassing side note: I played that song to death back in the day, and still know all the words! So for your listening enjoyment, “Yes I like Pina… (SMACK), whew thanks, I needed that!

  13. says

    Hey Scott! The plant in the first pic is a Mexican Bear grass, although if you’re not familiar with it, it’s not really a grass. It’s a nolina that looks spikey but isn’t at all. You can run your hands over the top with no problem. “So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad, and though I’m nobody’s poet, I thought it wasn’t half bad!” No, it wasn’t HALF bad, it was horrible! ; )

    Shirley! I thought you’d like the succulent wreath addition! Cheers to you!

  14. says

    I love your work. Can I jump on the bandwagon and also LOVE the steel planter box? How great that you have a fab metalworker on your team – I gotta get me one of those!
    I am such a sucker for all of the ipomeas. I can’t plant anything off the ground without them!
    And I adore the first container – DAMN! I wish I had written a post, too!!! SO JEALOUS! You rock and we are going to be hanging out SOOOOOON!!!

  15. Susie says

    I just found your blog and love your work. I’m from the Odessa area and love the idea of the more vertical pots with succulents. What is the trailing plant off the first one in the large tall green pot? I think the same plant was used in the long metal planter box, which by the way is spectacular.

  16. says

    Thanks Susie! It’s a burro’s tail or Sedum morganianum. When I first started planting with it years ago, I was never successful with them because I tended to them too much! Give it a part-sunny site and water sparingly (once every 10 days). Same with string of beads (Senecio rowleyanus).

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