Get Impact with Containers

Holding pretty flowers is not the only thing containers can do for you. When thoughtfully placed, they make a major difference.
Steve Bender

Blooms Galore, No Fuss

Knowing she needed help, Celeste called garden designer Linda Hostetler. Celeste told Linda, “I want the garden to be very low maintenance, but I also want continuously blooming, beautiful flowers. And we need to turn it into a knockout in six months.” That’s a tall order, but the two women pulled it off, and containers brimming with color played a major role.

Structure Is Key
Well-designed gardens often trace their appeal to what designers call “good bones”―fences, walls, walkways, gates, evergreen plants, and containers (the most frequently forgotten). All help to give a space structure and form, even in winter when many plants are bare. “I think the secret to having a good garden is having as much structure as possible,” says Linda.

That’s exactly the case here. Low stone retaining walls enclose a formal garden. Imposing planters resting on stone columns flank the entrances to the garden from the front yard and the rear. Like colors massed together catch your attention, signifying areas of importance.

Fooling the Eye
One major curve Celeste threw Linda was a request for parterres―formal garden beds that are separated by walks or paths. The difficulty lay in the fact that parterres should be symmetrical but the overall area was asymmetrical.

Linda solved this problem with an optical illusion. A stepping-stone walkway running from the back terrace toward the house is centered on a millstone set into the walk. Pedestal planters cascading with verbena flank the walk and punctuate its terminus. Lining up these elements gives the appearance of symmetry.

You can’t beat verbena for filling planters. Its flowers, which come in many different colors, spill over the edges all summer long. As the seasons change, so do the annuals.

A Happy Ending
What was once a weed patch is now a retreat that Celeste enjoys every day. “The best thing about my garden is that I can just live in it, no matter what the season,” she says. And anytime the garden club needs her to host another meeting, she’s ready.

5 Ways To Wow

  • Mass similar colors in the same area.
  • Elevate containers so that flowers are at eye level.
  • Go big rather than small when choosing containers.
  • Repetition creates impact and unity.
  • Place with a purpose. Accent entries and the primary axis first.

"Prepare for Impact" is from Southern Living's Container Gardens.