Containers Make the Space

Visit this backyard Eden, and take a few smart ideas home with you.
Ellen Ruoff Riley

You can have a yard, or you can create a garden. Lynn Jennings's Dallas landscape beautifully defines the difference. When she and husband David built their home 11 years ago, their focus kept drifting outward. "We designed the pool and garden area so it would be visible from nearly every room in the house. So many times, this is an afterthought--you lose sight of the fact that you should plan your outdoor rooms while you're building," she says.

Whether you're gazing out a window or dangling your feet in the pool, Lynn's garden draws you into a lush canvas of textures, colors, and flowers. "My mother was an artist, so I grew up with a big easel, blank canvases, and a houseful of paints. I really see the garden that same way. Every year it becomes a new picture," she explains.

Lynn tempers her artistic enthusiasm with an insatiable desire for planting know-how. With the help of Chip Clint, owner of Clint Horticulture, they plant to satisfy both goals. "Our friendship has grown with the garden," Lynn says. "We always pick colors first. In the front yard we go for understated elegance, but I want the backyard to be a surprise. We like to use things that are unexpected."

 

Color Cues
The garden's finely woven tapestry comes from careful planning, as illustrated in the large bed of caladiums bordering a portion of the pool. Instead of choosing one selection, they combined three for a stunning effect. "We take a common plant such as caladium and look at the colors within one selection," Chip says. "We take that color thread and find a complementary shade in another caladium selection." The result is companionable colors within the same plant family, producing a bright, well-planned appearance.

Containers Abound
If you dare do a head count, Lynn's containers number close to 150. What could potentially become clutter, though, is avoided through her artistry in placement. Each one has a purpose, and they all work together. "I adore containers. They make an area so interesting and take your eye where it wouldn't ordinarily go," she says. "I love to put them in places that make you want to go and take a look."

Every spring, Lynn and Chip decide on the container arrangement. It varies from year to year, as do the plant choices. Many pots hold treasures she has nurtured for years, while others become blank palettes, waiting for the season's new color scheme and combinations. "Containers give me a chance to try things that may not grow in the ground. And they're other places to add more flowers!" Lynn exclaims.

 

Takeaway Tips
Lynn and Chip offer this advice for great-looking containers.

  • Be aware of sunlight, and choose the right plants for the exposure.
  • Containers dry out faster than a garden, so check for water needs every day.
  • Feed containers regularly to keep them flourishing. "I like ferti-lome Start-N-Grow. You sprinkle it on, and when the blue crystals disappear, it's time to add more," Lynn says.
  • Add coarse gravel to the bottoms of the pots to ensure adequate drainage.

"Containers Make the Space" is from the May 2007 issue of Southern Living.