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2011 - Volume 2 Issue 2
Casas Bonitas
Outdoor Living
Article: Jessica Muncrief
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A freshly potted, colorful plant is perhaps the easiest way to brighten up any space, but a little extra effort can turn your container garden into a true element of décor that complements the overall setting. Whether you are an apartment dweller with only a balcony to spruce up or a suburbanite with an entire yard to play with, basic elements of design can easily be applied to create exciting, eye-catching displays.


Enchanted Gardens

Guzman's Color
Your World


Nash Patio and Garden

Sierra Vista Growers
Approach your container garden with the same eye you would use when designing a landscape or decorating a living room. Balance, colors, shapes, and form are all important considerations. The opportunities to express your creativity are endless, but seasoned gardeners and landscape designers seem to agree on a basic, three-part structure that works well when combining multiple plants in a large container.

1.)  Start with tall, eye-catching plants. These serve not only as the exciting centerpiece to your design, but also provide height to keep your arrangement in scale with the surrounding environment. Jackye Meinecke of Enchanted Gardens in Las Cruces recommends dusty miller, snapdragons, stock, and Karl Foerester grass for the fall/winter season. Russian sage and sunflowers are good picks for the spring/summer season.

2.)  Add some long, trailing plants that spill out of the container. These add texture and movement for lush, appealing creations. Jackye suggests ivy and alyssum, which will stay green during the winter. Bougainvillea, begonias, and sweet potato vines work well in our summer climate.

3.)  Finish with some fillers. Medium-sized plants create balance by bridging the gap between the trailers and the tall, vertical accents. These are also good for adding shapes and colors. Some good options for fall planting include pansies, petunias, cyclamen, chrysanthemums and geraniums. In the spring, plant calibrachoa and daisies.

If you prefer just one plant in your container, Mark Nash, owner of Nash Patio and Garden, says architecturally interesting plants will give you the best value for your money. For this area, he recommends large, spiky shrubs that come in great colors such as New Zealand flax, cordyline, and Thompson's yucca. Mark also offers up a designer tip—try installing a light that shines on the pot. It will create a great shadowing effect.

Using color is perhaps the most exciting element in design and it is just as important when gardening in containers. If you are a beginner or just unsure of what look you are going for, use lots of color. Landscapers agree that you cannot go wrong in choosing a multitude of bold, vibrant, contrasting colors. This is how we see plants growing in nature, so almost all colors of flowers naturally blend together.

Displaying just one color throughout the arrangement can produce interesting results. Use lighter and darker shades, hues and tints of the same basic color to keep it interesting. Or, for a designer-inspired look, opt for only two colors. Pairing complementary colors, or those that are opposite each other on the color wheel (purple and yellow, orange and blue, red and green), is particularly striking. If your arrangement still seems to be missing something, consider adding touches of white flowers, which will enhance and brighten any composition, or see if you can find a blue flowering plant. Blue flowers are rare and hard to find in all seasons and in all planting zones, so they are intriguing and eye-catching additions.

Fortunately for container gardeners, there are plenty of potting options beyond the standard orange clay pot. Look for planters made of interesting material such as stone, metal or limestone, or just use your imagination! Virtually anything can be a makeshift flower pot. Antique tin cans, baskets and metal buckets are fun options. Whether you are buying your flower pots from a store or turning an unconventional item into a planter, Gary Guzman, owner of Guzman's Color Your World, recommends starting with a good, light-weight and porous planting mix. "This can make or break the success of your container planting," he says. ///
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