Container gardening is one of my favorite aspects of gardening each year. It enables me to redecorate the garden and brings out my artistic expression using plants. I try new combinations each year in the larger containers and even change our some plants for seasonal interest. Each year I tell myself I will control this obsession but invariably by early spring the “Bug” hits and here I go. This year I counted 87 containers or hanging baskets in the garden by August 1st. Of course many containers only have a single plant and some of the large ones have as many as 10 varieties. Having a large greenhouse helps to get a jump start on the season since I can over winter many of the tropicals and foliage plants.
Rule of thumb for design is pretty simple. Use at least three plants, one spiky, one mounding, and one trailing. I have a hard time keeping it simple that so many containers will have at least 6 varieties. Use your favorites and don’t worry about color clashes. Mother Nature doesn’t! I am more concerned about varying shapes and textures.
I always learn by visiting my favorite arboretums and taking notes on what they use in their containers. Each year is different and there are always new plants to investigate. When in Asheville be sure to visit the NC Arboretum and the Biltmore Estate Yes, the Biltmore Estate is one of the finest arboretums in the country. You will see container gardens every where.
My favorite sources for plants are Lowe’s and the Home Depot, right after the truck comes in and the plants are fresh, and BB Barnes and Jesse Israel and Sons, great nurseries. For great information on design and plant options check out Fine Gardening magazine and P. Allen Smith Garden Home.
Enjoy the pictures of my favorite containers for this year at the WhiteGate Inn. See if you can recognize my personal favorite. It contains coleus “Inky Fingers”, black and chartreuse Potato Vine, Elephant Ear “Black Magic”, Blue Lyme grass, Yellow Lantana, a variegated Ivy, and a miniature Japanese Maple ‘Red Pixie’. If you have any questions about other plant materials post your questions, with your e-mail, and I will happily respond.