Planting The Summer Pots

Planting The Summer Pots


The opportunity to suggest a collection of pots to a client is pleasure indeed. We looked at lots of them, but she kept coming back to these Belgian stoneware pots. This was no surprise, given that the architecture of her house is contemporary. And dramatic. The roof combines a large curved window with strongly angular geometric shapes set in a variety of planes. The overhangs are substantial. A pair of large brick planter boxes and an over scaled walk to the front door contribute even more in the way of hard surfaces. It was a given that my client was interested in multiple pots. They would provide a vehicle for introducing some green to the front entrance. Three pairs of pots, different in size and color, would provide lots of opportunity to soften all of the hard surfaces. It took a while to arrange the pots, but both of us were happy with the outcome. The planting design came next.

The planting design of an associated group of pots takes some thought. They needed to relate to each other in color and feeling. They also needed to be of a scale appropriate to the size of the pots. A pair of  lemon cypress almost 5 feet tall would provide strong color and texture on either side of the front door. That color would set the stage for all of the other plantings.

As much as she was interested in contemporary pots, she was likewise interested in contemporary plantings that had a simple and architectural feel. Many of the plants chosen were green plants of various colors and textures. A mix of lime and variegated licorice provided a wide spectrum of shades of green.

To follow are pictures of the planting. Yellow flowered cannas have bold leaves, and the color repeated the lime of the licorice and ginger.  A pair of Limelight hydrangea topiaries will bloom a greenish white later in the summer.  In the meantime, the spherical shape of the head echoes both the roof windows and the steel spheres.

White petunias and euphorbia Diamond Frost will repeat that hydrangea white on a lower level.

A sudden and strong wind and rainstorm interrupted the effort, but on the upside there was no need to water when we finished planting.

Shrubby plants – both hardy and tropical – are great in large scale pots.  The variegated shell ginger, or Alpinia zerumbet “Variegata” features a variety of greens, much like the licorice cultivars. They are a perfect scale for the large Belgian cylinders. In a perfectly hot summer, they will bloom with racemes of white fragrant flowers.

A great planting not only involves a group of people with a respect for plants and transplanting, but a group that understands how to arrange and face them in the pot. Though these containers are a long way from attaining their eventual size and stature, there is no reason why a new planting shouldn’t look beautifully presented.

A sense of humor about rain has been helpful this spring. Wow, we have had a lot of rain.

This is a very inviting entrance now. And strong evidence of how much a container planting can alter a landscape for the better.



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