Thursday, July 9, 2009

contain yourself

there is a certain style of container plants that i do not appreciate. for some reason, it has become customary to have each container have a very planned look, consisting of three elements: a trailing plant around the perimeter (like sweet potato vine or vinca), a ground cover plant (like impatiens or pansies), and something with height in the center.

there are two things about this formula that i don't appreciate - one, that it is a formula at all and thus all such planted containers look uniform and calculated, removing all natural appeal. they look like they were created according to a diagram, and they often are.

and two, because i don't think each of the elements is used in its best light, especially the "height" element, often some variety of spikes or tall grasses. in these containers, the spikes always look naked and embarrassed, detracting from their own beauty like a tall girl in middle school looking to disappear. sometimes the planter even skips the ground cover or the trailing element, making it even less fluid looking.

ridiculous, right?

the whole look is just too severe for my taste. here is one variation on it i can live with, because the height isn't such a contrast from what's around it, so the proportions are more appropriate.

but still.

in this picture, i like how they use a relatively low, trailing sweet potato vine as the "height" element -- they must have graded the soil underneath so that it is physically higher than the impatiens, or there could be a small container sitting in/on the larger one with the potato vines.

in the picture below, although they use spikes, they're so frondy and they bend so low, that they provide a nice relaxed cover for the shorter flowers below, so again, less severe and much prettier, though i'd like to see the greenery below the spikes fuller. i have one on my balcony in this style that is a window box of sweet potato vines and very long, low spikes and i like it alot.

here is a picture of what a local hair salon does each year (very sorry for the horrible drive-by picture, but i really wanted to show it so you get the visual). i think these raised planters are a great way to add height to a display by using a difference in actual height. it provides visual interest, color and a certain “up and down” look with elements both high and low to draw the eye. at the same time, it doesn’t resort to the formula of trailing, ground cover, height. this is a strategy easily employable at home by placing planters at different heights so that even similar plants take up different space and appear at different heights from one another. they also sell plant stands that have spaces for three or four different pots, each a different height.

i also that they stuck to a simple color palette. except if i had my druthers, i’d get rid of the spikey ferns in the middle, obvi.

on balance though, i would much prefer to see containers with uniform plantings in abundance and maybe put on display with other containers with different uniform plantings - like one container with all pansies, one with all sweet potato vines and coleus, and one with taller frondy or spiky plants. then there would be a variation of colors and types, but in a way that gives each its own full glory.

love this mix:

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