Summer Containers – Washington, DC

The National Arboretum

Often I am asked for my container planting “recipe”.  Location is my first planting ingredient followed by the container.  The plants are the last added ingredient.  I like to let the location and container inspire the plant selection.  These photos from The National Arboretum capture location, container and plant selection.
Grass display gardens
Huge concrete containers are positioned throughout the grass and turf display gardens.  These containers are planted with grasses and millet.  Adding these simple planted containers gives the location visual layers.
Furcraea foetida ‘Medio Picta’
The foliage of Furcraea foetida ‘Medio Picta’ appears to glow when positioned in front of a black wall.  The common terra cotta is a great container choice for this plant and location.
Sedum and Nassella

This concrete perimeter wall extends the length of the walkway.  The wall has built-in containers that are planted with Sedum and Nassella.  This planting combination appears softens the look of the concrete and the Nassella billows in the slightest breeze.

Most of the time I think in terms of location, container, and then plants.  Sure there have been many times when I have purchased an unplanned container and a plant then spent a crazy amount of time scouting for the perfect location.  Not a problem there is always room for one more planted container.

Summer Containers – Austin, TX

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

My professional and leisure time is plant focused.  Visiting public gardens is an essential exercise that tunes my plant skills.   In June I had the opportunity to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX.   The day of my visit the daytime temperature was forecasted to reach 105 F.  Exciting!

It was an adventure studying the gardens at the Wildflower Center.  Each garden design complemented the natural landscape and generously motivated me.   That motivation inspires me when I create client containers.

Salvia greggii, Dalea greggii
Salvia greggii, Dalea greggii

Here is a sample of some of the containers on display at the Wildflower Center.  When you arrive this large terra cotta box container sits near the admission kiosk.  The Salvia greggi is lush and the Dalea greggii gracefully overflows.

Illex vomitoria 'Pendula'
Illex vomitoria ‘Pendula’

Sitting in the courtyard is a large terra cotta container planted with Ilex vomitoria ‘Pendula’.  This weeping specimen is large and showy.   Wow!  Look how this simple container planting complements the courtyard.

In the Theme Gardens galvanized containers are used to display a variety of plants.  This water garden was surrounded by smaller containers this display was a visual feast of plant variety.

Theme Garden galvanized containers
Theme Garden galvanized containers

The container you place your plants in matters.  Plant in a container you love.  Each container at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center accessorized the garden space.

Garden Container Love

When I was a child my family sold terra cotta and ceramic containers from Mexico.   We did not have a retail store.  We would scout vacant lots on busy street corners park and sell our merchandise from the back of a truck.  The containers usually sold out by the afternoon.

This large Pennoyer Newman container is filled with tulips and violas.
Pennoyer Newman container filled with tulips and violas.

Winter is a good time to inventory garden containers.  During the winter I use this time to evaluate the containers that I have set in client gardens.  Containers complement the attitude of any garden.

Patapsco Valley Sales wherehouse.
Patapsco Valley Sales

Each one of my clients has a unique landscape attitude.  You can find containers for every attitude.   Client  landscape attitudes shift over time.  I am always looking to add a new garden container.  Hunting for new containers is exciting.  If I love the container sitting on a pallet I will buy it.

Do you love your containers?  Loved containers inspire seasonal plant selections.   If your container love has fizzled out it is time to move or modify your containers.  Best scenario is to add a new container to refresh your container love.

Large urn with bright foliage.
Large urn with bright foliage.

I am always scouting for containers.    Where I look depends on the garden attitude.  Good sources are nurseries, wholesalers, and consignment shops.

Some of the places where I have purchased containers:

  • Patapsco Valley Sales, Baltimore, MD – The inventory quality is fantastic.  Every container that I have purchased from Patapsco looks great.
  • Pennoyer Newman, New York, NY – These containers are tough, lightweight, look great, and can be left outdoors in cold climates.   My experience is with the following designs:  Garland Planter, Dutch Planter, French Florentine Round, The Modern Collection.
  • Southland Nursery, Vancouver BC – This nursery is an adventure.  The selection is amazing the team is happy to assist.