These ladies have thought of everything, including the consideration we often don't take into account--how the design grows. Each combination is considered for its seasonal sequence, or how each plant comes into its prime at certain times in the season.
A container filled with plants that include a shrub, a perennial and several annuals is meant to last the majority of the season, its colorful and textural foliage working wonders to brighten up a semi-shady corner. With only two flowering plants included in the seven-plant combo, it's good to have foliage that carries the color through summer. Consider the impact of:
- Lamb's ears 'Bella Grigio' with long, arching, silvery, nearly-white leaves
- Aeonium 'Sunburst' offers succulent foliage that's pale green striped with cream
- Sedum with deep purple leaves provide a perfect foil for the lighter colored plants.
- Fountain grass 'Fireworks' is slender and variegated hot pink-green-burgundy-white.
- Deutzia 'Creme Fraiche' is a hardy dwarf shrub with pale green edged with white.
- Fan flower 'Pink Wonder' is an annual flower with pink flowers on stiff stems.
- Bacopa is a trailing plant with the bonus of tiny white flowers.
I love the idea of separating the combinations into early to mid-summer and late summer to fall. The categories are further separated by their preference for full sun or part shade. The authors have even devised combinations that change color, hold their own while you're on vacation, and examples of pairing plants with sculptural elements, from vases to figurines.
Gardening with Foliage First by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz is the perfect kind of book--it's great for just leafing through for the great photos, but it's also easy to pick up and pick out a few eye-catching designs to try in your own garden.
|Mixed container for sun|
|Mixed container for shade|
Bloomers, along with the Pelargoniums and the Peruvian daffodils, include a shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana), which might get quite tall, but is easy to pinch. The big guy toward the middle is Alocasia Gageana California, a dwarf elephant ear that grows to just 4 feet tall.
I'll have to keep an eye on it though, as its leaves tend to droop and cover the plants surrounding it. Until the companion plants beneath it grow large enough to hold their own, I'll be selectively removing its lower leaves.
The entire container doesn't look like much now, but the photos will serve to remind me what I planted, so if any of the residents start to muscle in on its neighbors, I can rescue them by doing a bit of pruning. And I always warn my plants that if they really misbehave or even disappoint me, I'm not afraid to get out the shovel.
I think I'll be much happier with these "mostly foliage" planters. They'll be colorful even if they don't have flowers.