Behind-the-Scenes Container Gardening
Producing our container gardening stories can be a dirty endeavor! See our Grumpy Gardener, Steve Bender, in action and learn what designers behind some of our prettiest containers think about garden design.
Steve Bender, our Grumpy Gardener dons a smile whenever his hands are covered in dirt.
Prep the Pot
Steve works closely with local garden stores to ensure we have the right kinds of soil and flowers on set to make-up a variety of containers. We may plan on using a particular flower, but if they aren’t available or have sad-looking blooms, we’ll make on-the-spot replacements.
Experiment with Placement
Steve experiments with multiple placement options before committing to plant. Even when we have container gardens designed by professionals, our team tests the designs and plants to make sure our readers will be able to execute the ideas.
We hear it over and over again on our container gardening sets: “Don’t overcrowd the pots!” You’ve got to give your blooms room to breathe and grow. Some of the containers you see on our pages were planted far in advance of the shoot, to give the plants time to naturally grow into their containers.
Event designer Keith Robinson uses found containers (like this old toolbox) to give his container gardens a rustic, casual feel. “I love the idea of using utilitarian elements in an unexpected way.”
Shades of pink and soft blues and cascading greenery instantly give containers a lush, feminine feel. Birmingham florist Holly Carlisle aims to “create containers that don’t feel too formal, but that grow naturally in the garden.”
Memphis landscape architect Marley Fields Slutz opts for a modern look because, “simple lines and streamlined palette show off the plants more.” Succulents, evergreens and blooms like purple calibrachoas make up her stunning, clean-lined arrangements.
Traditional and Timeless
Southern Living flower guru Buffy Hargett Miller has a simple formula to build traditional pots: start with a dominant color, and then round out your pot with flowers in surprising shades. She also subscribes to the “thriller, filler, spiller, mantra, which means mixing together upright, mounding, and trailing plants in one glorious arrangement.