Whoever suggested we “deck the halls with boughs of holly” clearly wasn’t also trying to cook a turkey, wrap gifts and bake dozens of cookies. Planting a container garden is rarely on the holiday to-do list, yet it is such a perfect way to welcome friends and family to a home.
With a little creativity you can quickly transform any container gardens you may already have, and with some extra planning you can ensure that they continue to shine year-round. By starting with a backbone of great foliage and then adding a few seasonal highlights, you can have your container gardens mark each season with style while still having enough time to enjoy the festivities.
Here are five easy container garden designs and ideas on how to change them up for each season.
1. Fall Container Garden
Fall shades are the starting point for a Thanksgiving design that can easily be given mini makeovers to look great all year.
• Dwarf vine maple tree (Acer circinatum ‘Little Gem’)
• ‘Spellbound’ coral bells (Heuchera hybrid), with gorgeous purple foliage
• Dwarf evergreen conifer
• Orange grass-like ‘Goldfinger’ New Zealand iris (Libertia ixioides)
• Trailing ‘Wojo’s gem’ periwinkle (Vinca maculata)
Fall interest (shown):
• Add deep red pansies.
• The orange pot itself sets the scene.
• Nestle orange and yellow gourds among the purple foliage.
• The bare red stems of the maple add height and Christmas color.
• Replace gourds you added in fall with gold accents, such as weatherproof ornaments.
• Orange ‘Princess Irene’ tulips will repeat the color of the container and can be planted in fall with the pansies.
• Forgot to add bulbs? You can purchase pots of flowering spring bulbs and simply tuck them in.
• The pansies will be in full bloom.Summer interest:
• Replace the pansies and tulips with deep burgundy ‘Black Magic’ ivy geraniums.
2. Quick Summer-to-Fall Pot
I often have leftover plants at the end of summer — this container idea is an easy way to put them to good use. These plants are still in their nursery pots and simply nestled into a decorative container. Milk cartons and empty pots are stacked inside the brown container to get the plants to the right height. You can always plant them properly when you have more time.
• Big leafy coral bells (Heuchera)
• Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)
• Andromeda (Pieris japonica)Fall and Thanksgiving accents (shown):
• A large pumpkin easily fills in space.
• Colorful vines provide instant trailing accents.
• Replace the pumpkin with faux gifts wrapped and beribboned in festive colors.
• Add a basket of pretty primroses, still in nursery pots and surrounded by Spanish moss to hide the evidence!
• This is a good time to plant everything properly, as it will make watering easier.
• Replace primroses with shade-tolerant annuals, such as begonias or impatiens.
3. The Little Black Dress
Black never goes out of fashion, and with a few new accessories this artistic container can easily be ready for a party.
• White Japanese anemones (Anemone japonica) planted behind the gardenia
• Add a couple of mini white pumpkins around the base of the gardenia.
Christmas cheer (shown):
• Add everlasting accents and stems, such as silk magnolia, white berries and clusters of cones dusted with silver.
• Insert evergreens from the garden — such as cedar, juniper and fir — into the moist soil; they will keep fresh for weeks.
Hanukkah highlights: This elegant, monochromatic design could easily be enhanced with silver and blue glass baubles.
• Hide pots of flowering white daffodils behind the gardenia.Summer interest (shown):
• Replace spring bulbs with white cosmos or wand flower (Gaura lindheimeri).
4. Holly Isn’t Just for the Holidays
Keep holly (Ilex sp.) in your container and you have a jump start for every season.
• ‘Gold Coast’ holly (Ilex aquifolium)
• Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens)
• Leatherleaf sedge (Carex buchananii)
Fall and Thanksgiving accents:
• Add colorful pumpkins.
• Add stems of yellow and orange bittersweet(Celastrus scandens)
Christmas cheer (shown):
• Add pinecones, stems with berries and silver balls
• Insert lengths of evergreens from the garden, such as fir and spruce.
5. Nontraditional Colors
The color scheme for this container garden is blue, white and silver but that doesn’t mean it can’t work for fall holidays and springtime too.
• Korean fir (Abies koreana)
• ‘Baby Blue’ boulevard cypress(Chamaecyparis pisifera)
• Trailing ivy
• Cyclamen offer wonderful fall color on a protected porch. Keep them in their nursery pots for ease of watering. Simply remove the plant in its container and stand it on a saucer of water for a few minutes before tucking back it into the planter.
• The felted silver foliage of dusty miller(Senecio cineraria) is winter hardy.
• Blue and white pansies
Christmas cheer (shown):
• Hang silver ornaments from the tree branches.
• Add larger silver and white balls at the base.
• Insert a few stems of blue spruce around the container’s edges.
• Consider just a single splash of bright color, such as this little red cardinal.
• White crocus
• White hyacinths
• The pansies will be in full bloom.
• Replace the pansies with white million bells (Calibrachoa).
Just a few minutes of your time can transform those container gardens from frumpy to fabulous.