Summer Containers using Elephant Ears and Caladiums

GARDEN DESIGN, Landscape Design, Plants

May is providing us a progression of peony and iris blooms, but the life of a gardener is planning for your enjoyment a season or two ahead. Now is the time to plant bulbs for summer containers that will be large and impactful throughout the hot months. Here are two options of bulbs you can plant in containers for high impact this summer.

 

How to use Elephant Ears and Caladiums in containers for impactful summer containers. From from Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

 

ELEPHANT EARS:

Just as their name suggests, Elephant Ears have oversized leaves and are the alpha element or “thriller” in any container combination. Elephant is blanket common name for the genus Colocasia and Alocasia.  One is not necessarily better than the other.  It just depends on the what characteristics you are looking for.  Recently, most of the breeding has been geared toward Colocasia so you are seeing many interesting variations like Colocasia esculenta ‘Mojito’ and black foliage Colocasia esculenta ‘Diamond Head’. The tubers grow quickly and range from 3 – 5 feet in height. In a 2 feet tall container, you will have a lush, stately 7ft container. Elephant Ears can handle a variety of sun conditions, so are a good placement for anywhere expect heavy shade.

 

Thanks to their long stocks, you get to have a lot of fun experimenting with the foundation plantings around the tuber. You can go for burst of color or play with textures in the same tones. In the example below, we stayed in the dark tone, but would also look great if you used silver foliage for high contrast. SHOP or EXPLORE additional varieties at Longfield Gardens.

How to use Elephant Ears in Summer Containers. Containers feature - 'Portodora' elephant's ear Alocasia 'Portodora' More at ThinkingOutsidetheboxwood.com

A pair of containers flanking a walkway feature a single dark tone combo of Colocasia esculenta ‘Diamond Head’ and Setcreasea pallida ‘Purple Heart.’

 

How to use Summer Bulbs in Containers. Combo includes 'Portodora' elephant's ear Alocasia 'Portodora' against a black house. more details at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This grouping of three containers from my house last year features ‘Portodora’ elephant’s ear, Alocasia ‘Portodora’ with a mix of under-plantings. The Portodora provided a perfect foil against the black wall of the house.

 

How to use Elephant Ears in Summer Containers. This combo features Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic' and 'Calidora' elephant's ear (Alocasia 'Calidora'). More combos and details at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This is a grouping of summer containers we completed for a client’s home a few years ago. The house was an impressive Georgian, and the elephant’s ears scale were great for providing the scale needed to match the home. Here you see Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ and ‘Calidora’ elephant’s ear (Alocasia ‘Calidora’) with a few other containers with summer plantings.

 

CALADIUMS:

Caladiums have the same elongated heart shaped leaf, but offer smaller, delicate and more color variety than elephant ears. What they lack is size, caladiums provide impact from their saturated red and fuchsia foliage and create an explosion of color when combined with bright annuals. Other cultivars like ‘White Christmas’, provide a cooler palate mixed with silvers, blacks and purple companion container plants. They can also work between the “thriller” or “spiller” in container design, depending on your combination. Below White Christmas is used as the thriller, but mixed with an elephant ear could be the filler. SHOP or EXPLORE additional varieties at Longfield Gardens.  In general Caladium prefer some protection from the afternoon sun they work great tucked under a shady overhang or porch.

How to use Caladiums in summer containers. Combo Includes: Caladium 'White Christmas' Foxtail Fern Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' Hedera helix 'Baltica' More at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This smaller container next to a side porch entry, features Caladium ‘White Christmas’, Foxtail Fern / Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’ and Hedera helix ‘Baltica’.

 

How to use Caladiums in summer containers. Combo includes Caladium 'White Christmas' with ferns. More at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This container features Caladium ‘White Christmas’ with a massing of Boston Ferns. This simple combo is easy to build and can be used with a wide variety of caladiums based on your color preference.

 

uilding Summer Containers with Caladiums. Combo includes Caladium ‘Florida Cardinal’ More at thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

This final combos feature Caladium ‘Florida Cardinal’ on the left and Caladium ‘Carolyn Whorton’ on the right, and both showcase how easy it is to add a massing of other annuals with caladiums even in smaller sized containers.

 

For containers this summer, we have a wide variety of both elephant ears and caladiums to plant and are working on some unique combinations to share once they have matured. Let me know if you have any questions about planting or caring for your summer bulbs.

 

GREAT FINDS – Hats and Tools

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May finds gardeners in the full throws of planting, prepping and maintaining, but still with all the excitement with the fresh start to a new season. While I kick off the season I have found two great resources to share with everyone, which may be old news to you but are new additions to my gardening arsenal this year.

GREAT FINDS - Hats and Tools,  Thinking Outside the Boxwood

TULA Gardener Hat:  I am constantly searching for a wide brimmed gardening hat that is stylish, and is something a guy can pull off. Generally what looks good on one person, does not always look good on another or tends to lend it self better for one sex over the other. But I think I found a great universal hat, the Tula Gardener hat. I tried on someone else’s over the weekend and it was a great size and finish for working outside, and at $37.99 is a great price. My hat is on order so will report on how it holds up over the summer.

 

 

GREAT FINDS - Hats and Tools,  Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Niwaki Tools: So I have had this website on my bookmarks for about a year, just for the simple fact the website is BEAUTIFUL. But the tools have cult following and the are just great stuff from Japan. I highly recommend watching their videos, relaxing and educational. I need to get one of the orchard pruning ladders, because are easier to maneuver compared to the lifts we sometimes need to use, but will need to figure out a good shipping method first.

 

Do you have any must have gardening tools or gear?

Interview with Annika Zetterman

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Interview with Annika Zetterman, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

My last post featured a review of New Nordic Gardens: Scandinavian Landscape Design by Annika Zetterman. I am excited for her book because she has great style and provides a comprehensive foundation of Scandinavian Gardens. Annika was amazing to answer a few of my questions for Thinking Outside the Boxwood, about her favorite products and Nordic plants, restaurants and gems. Her shared sources are like getting a personal tour with Annika, seeing the best shops – coolest restaurants and best nurseries. Thank you Annika for all your answers, and check out her book. Amazon only had 3 copies left (more on their way) the last I checked so act fast, I promise you will enjoy the book. (I have included links to all the locations Annika mentions, and I highly recommend you click through and check out the products or locations, since most translate to English or at least have instagram accounts you can follow for inspiration)

 

BOOK:

ANDO, a beautiful book by an incredible architect, which a very good friend gave to me, hence even more special.

 

TEA:

While most Scandinavians love coffee ( top consumption per capita in the world) tea is my choice, having lived in the UK for many years. Herbal teas is a current favorite, such as “Detox” by Pukka.

MUSEUM:

I love exciting buildings, sometimes more than the exhibitions. The New Design Museum in London is amazing and so is Tate Modern and Getty Center in LA as well as the former railway station in Paris, Musée d’Orsay.

 

FAVORITE CITY TO VISIT or LIVE?

Stockholm and Sydney, beautifully situated on waters. London, which still feels like a second home, where I lived nearly 10 years.

 

 

Favorite Gardens to Visit:

BOOTS:

Lundhags, old company in Scandinavia, making classic, durable, cool boots

 

PURNERS:

Felco nr 9, as I am left handed

 

ESSENTIAL TOOLS:

Tape measure, pencil and drawing pad.

 

BEST PLANT FOR TEXTURAL INTEREST:

Ferns, due to the architectural appearance yet the lightness they possess.

 

VARIEGATED PLANTS, YES or NO?

Hostas that come in many different sizes and colours can look stunning combined. Acer Platanoides and Drummondii is a fascinating variegated tree.

 

FAVORITE SUN CATCHER

There are plenty, but if I have to pick one, I would say birch trees

 

FAVORITE PLANT FOR STRUCTURE:

Miscanthus and Calamagrostis with sturdiness lasting a very long time and coping with our weather conditions.

 

HOTEL:

ICEHOTEL For a once if a lifetime experience, and a fun adventure, the Icehotel where you will have the chance to see the northern lights (Aurora Borealis) or experience the midnight sun too!

 

RESTAURANTS:

In a region where culinary is on a height, there are heaps. From award winning restaurants like Fäviken, Esperanto and Frantzén to local and seasonal specialities that you find in every corner of the region. If in Stochkolm, perhaps go for a vegetarian choice and culinary experience with amazing views over Stockholm at Fotografiska, or enjoy a relaxing brunch at Café Saturnus or Greasy Spoon. Try vivid coctails at an old pharmacy (first opened on 1575) in Old town in Stockholm, pharmarium.

(Annika also provided a link to a BUZZ FEED article with Scandinavian restaurants with delicately beautiful prepared meals. HERE.)

 

INTERIOR DESIGN SHOPPING:

 

GARDEN NURSRIES:

  • Löddeköpinge plantskola – My personal favourite nursery/garden centre in Sweden, located in southern Sweden, always inspiring and tranquil.
  • Slottsträdgården Ulriksdal just outside Stockholm is a lovely nursery /garden centre with a wide range of plants and products. During harvest season you can pick your own flowers, herbs and veggies to buy. The café serves a delisious vegerarian buffet.

 

PUBLIC GARDENS:

 

BOTANICAL GARDENS & FESTIVALS: