Two weekends ago, I attended the annual conference of APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers) in Detroit. During the two days of garden tours, I saw some lovely combinations of annuals in containers.
I saw several shade combos that I really liked. One had white Caladium edged with green in the center and back, white speckled Hypoestes (Polka Dot Plant) in front of them and a small, round-leafed annual flowing over the sides. The trailer could have been Cymbalaria (Kenilworth Ivy) or Muehlenbeckia (Wire Vine). This is a simple grouping of green and white but the contrasting leaf shapes make it an arresting combination.
Similar to the green and white combination was another one that focused on the use of pink: a Caladium with a wide green edge, pink center, and radiating white veins with pink speckled Hypoestes. This combo did not have a trailing plant but I would be tempted to add some pink-flowered Bacopa.
For sun, try using Mandevilla ‘Alice Dupont (Brazilian Jasmine), Helichrysum petiolatum lime (Licorice Plant), and a small flowered, pale purple petunia or Calibrachoa. The Mandevilla will need to be staked or trained onto a trellis in the container while the Helicrysum and petunia can run rampant over the sides of the container. This is an excellent combination for those who favor pastels although the chartresuse of the Helichrysum spices it up a bit.
We often forget that container plantings do not need to be limited to annuals. If containers are freeze proof, we can plant conifers in them for winter interest and supplement with annuals for the summer and fall. There are many types of conical conifers with differing textures. I saw one with very soft foliage that had Dusty Miller at the base, surrounded by flowing Helicrysum petiolatum lime and bright pink petunias.
Windowboxes can be problematic. We want plants that will not need extensive deadheading because they are often hard to reach. I really liked the simple trio of bicolor pink and orange Lantana, Helichrysum petiolatum lime and a lavender ivy geranium.
All of these containers, except the first, were displayed at an amazing garden store called Detroit Garden Works, a fabulous source of containers, gardening supplies, unusual objects for the garden, and some plants. Owned by Deborah Silver, a local landscape designer, this company can be found online at www.detroitgardenworks.com. I saw the first shade combination at a garden that Deborah designed.
I’m always looking for new combinations and I’m sure you are too. It’s never too soon to start planning for next year.