If you are tired of the container clich?s of autumn: ornamental cabbages, coloured dogwood branches and? chrysanthemums, you will have a soul mate in Margaret Serreo. She is the horticultural brains behind Toronto?s Fiesta Gardens:? a place for choice plants and a lot of planty wisdom.
We asked Margaret to put together some containers with material she had at hand and easy for anyone, even those who aren?t great designers, to emulate.? Rather than sticking to annuals with a big toss-out at the end of the season, she suggests using perennials especially evergreens. There are now so many gorgeous dwarf forms of every evergreen imaginable that you can go crazy with different shapes from fluffy to pointed to weirdly twisted.?Boxwoods thrive with severe pruning to give a strong structural form.
Where people go wrong in making up containers is that they jam plants in and don?t keep the scale of the plants in proportion with the size of the container (either top-heavy with plants or ditzy little arrangements in huge pots), they are an assault on the eye.? It?s also important to keep in mind the scale of the plants with each other:? use one major evergreen and smaller contrasting texture and leaf sizes for the perennials.
With one superb evergreen as a central focus, see what perennials are left in nurseries or dig up some plants from the garden that will keep their foliage all winter long (grasses, sedges, hellebores and heucheras).
This style of perennial container will last for up to four years and you can tweak it in December with brightly coloured berries, even dogwood twigs or a few ornaments. These arrangements get better as they age and will continue to look more and more glorious.
Here are some Margaret Serreo?s hard and fast rules for dramatic four season containers: