Garden ideas: complicated containers made simple

how to plant a mixed container

These beautiful pots look complicated but they all follow a basic formula. From the center radiating out to the edge, plant something:

  1. Tall, upright, and spiky in the center:
    Hollyhocks – here are some black and burgundy ones. So cool.
  2. Upright and bushy
  3. Upright and spreading
    Osteospermum (African Daisy)
  4. Mounding and compact
  5. And finally,
    Trailing, sprawling plants around all the edges:
    Calibrachoa (Million Bells). They look like tiny petunias. I’m in love with them, especially Tangerine and Peach Evolution.
    Verbena canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’

As far as containers go, you literally cannot go wrong with weathered terra cotta in a classic shape. And it will only look better with age.

how to plant a mixed container

how to plant a mixed container

how to plant a mixed container

Garden ideas: intense color combinations

buttterfly weed, coleus, and petunias

Butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa), Petunia ‘Hurrah Velvet’ and Coleus ‘Limelight’

coleus, zinnia, and mist flower

Zinnias, Coleus ‘Watermelon’ and Mint Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum), the world’s most adorable plant.

celosia and zinnia

Celosia ‘Tomato Red’ and Zinnia ‘Profusion Yellow’

bee balm and liatris

Monarda and Liatris again but this time it’s a shocking pink more densely planted.

Black Plants

persian shield

Persian shield and Sweet potato vine ‘Garnet Lace’

Black (and deep purple and maroon) plants give you everything: high impact, drama, mystery, and sophistication. They’re an easy way to add a focal point where you need one, and they intensify the colors of everything around them. All of these photos were taken in the gardens at Cantigny Park┬áin Wheaton, IL.

dahlia mystic illusion

Dahlia ‘Mystic Illusion’ mass planting in front of a green hedge. This variety doesn’t need to be staked.

sambuca black lace

Sambuca ‘Black Lace’ (Sambucus nigra). It looks like a Japanese Maple, but it’s an actually an Elderberry!

persian shield

Persian shield with Coleus


A single black coleus adds depth and cools down this hot group.