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




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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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.


Plant Crush: Aquilegia

Perennials, Plants | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Every September I make a plant order from Holland for us to grow in our nursery the following year. I create the list based on the plants I have seen in inspiring gardens throughout the year (either through Pinterest, traveling or reading) or just those that catch my eye in the catalog. The plants then arrive at the tail end of winter for us to plant and nurture in the greenhouse until they are rooted and can start planting outdoors. There is a good six months between ordering the plants and when they arrive, and then another two months before we get to see them in all their glory.  Before the end of the year, the plants I order normally find a home, but if not we add them to the gardens around our offices or at my home. The result of my ordering process results in a lot of excitement around the greenhouse in April/May as we get to see what unique items we have to play with this year.   Plant Crush: Aquilegia vulgaris 'Black Barlow', Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Black Barlow’ is an example of a plant I saw in a Pinterest pin and ordered 100 plants without a specific project to use.  The image that spurred my purchase is from a garden designed by Wilson McWilliams for the Chelsea Flower show. The link for the image does not go back to a site with any information, but with more research ‘Black Barlow’ was used in the Cloudy Bay Discovery Garden in the  RHS 2013 Chelsea Flower Show.   Plant Crush: Aquilegia vulgaris 'Black Barlow', Thinking Outside the Boxwood     With my order of bareroot plants, we got a surprise with an additional cultivar and species of Aquilegia plants; Aquilegia ‘Chrysantha’ and Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Rose Barlow’. The ‘Chrysantha’ is a beautiful yellow with delicate yellow cup flower surrounded by five long, pale outer petals, while the ‘Rose Barlow’ is a pink with white tips flower matching the ‘Black Barlow’. We only have a few of these plants so will either use them in a container design or in our gardens around the shop. Plant Crush: Aquilegia vulgaris 'Black Barlow': Aquilegia vulgaris 'Black Barlow'Aquilegia 'Chrysantha' and Aquilegia vulgaris 'Rose Barlow', Thinking Outside the Boxwood

I will share photos of these planted in the garden later this year. With only 100 plants I think these will go pretty fast.

Six Chartreuse Perennials and Shrubs for your Garden

Perennials, Plants | Tagged , , , , ,

A few weeks ago I posted about a garden in Cheshire, England I visited awhile back and one of the key features of the garden was the use of chartreuse perennials throughout the gardens. When viewing a garden you can appreciate the hue spectrum found in green foliage. In particular, chartreuse is a great color to add to the garden given its distance from “grass green” in the color spectrum.

ILady's Mantle - Alchemila mollis ,Chartreuse Perennials and Shrubs for your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


I have curated a group of six perennials and shrubs with chartreuse foliage you can in corporate into your garden and container designs. These are all plants I have used in my designs and have had great success with. Also, the list is limited to perennials and shrubs because the list of annuals would be endless.


Six Chartreuse Perennials and Shrubs for your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood



A successful garden and container design is created by the relationship of the plants selected and how the play with (or against) another. One of my favorite combos with chartreuse plants are those with black/purple green foliage. The high contrast of the two shades, highlight both colors’ uniqueness.

Heuchera 'Obsidian' and Hakonekloa macra 'Aureola' : Six Chartreuse Perennials and Shrubs for your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' and Sedum 'Angelina' : Six Chartreuse Perennials and Shrubs for your Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood



Here are links to plant profiles and growers for the six plants profiled. You can use these links to confirm if a plant will work in your zone, sun exposure and soil conditions. (CLICK ON THE PHOTOS TO LINK OUT)

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'Cotinus coggygria 'Ancot' - Golden Spiritalchemilla_mollis_ladysmantleSagina subulata 'Aurea' - scotch mossHumulus lupulus 'Aureus' -  Golden HopsPhyscoarpus opulifolius 'darts gold'

In Bloom – November 10, 2014

Arrangement of the Week, G A R D E N S, gardening, Gardens, Get the Look, Landscape, Plants, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I think this will be the final cuttings of items in bloom this year. Almost all the leaves are gone and all the perennials in the nursery are in beds to be wintered over. Below are the final collection of color and some final bounty of harvest off the figs. I will need to replace the in bloom posts with holiday decorating and then planning for 2015.

Bergenia cordifolia ‘Bach’ (Pigsqueak), Beta vulgaris ‘Ruby Red’ (Swiss Chard), Geranium wallichianumHavana Blues‘ (Havana Blues Cranesbill), Senicio serpens (Blue Chalk Sticks), Rosa ssp. (Rose hips), Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’(Brown Turkey Fig), Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ (Royal Purple Smokebush), Kalanchoe thrysiflora (Flapjacks)


In Bloom - November 10, 2014, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


In Bloom - November 10, 2014, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Brown Turkey Fig In Bloom - November 10, 2014, Thinking Outside the Boxwood, Brown Turkey Fig

In Bloom – July 21

Advice, G A R D E N S, gardening, Gardens, Inspiration, Landscape Design, McCullough, My Work, New Albany, Ohio, Plants | Tagged , , , , ,

First, want to ask for a favor and your vote for best Professional Landscape on Gardenista’s Considered Design Awards. It was a surprise on Sunday to hear we were a finalist and are a few days behind on voting. I would greatly appreciate your daily vote here:

Gardenista Considered Design Awards. 


Now to this week’s In Bloom post. To mix things up this week, we are featuring the flowers in bloom as boutonnieres made by our resident floral designer at McCullough’s Landscape- great job Steve!  Both of these boutonnieres feature thistles from previous weeks with additional foliage now previously used. The benefit of the thistles is the heads are long term beauties in the garden, hence their feature for the past few weeks.


In Bloom - July 21, Thinking Outside the Boxwood- Plant Id at In Bloom - July 21, Thinking Outside the Boxwood- Plant Id at

Top: Erygium alphium, Erygium yuccifolium (foliage) and Echeveria ‘Lola’

Bottom: Erygium yuccifolium, Foeniculum vulgare (Bronze Fennel) Plectranthus ‘Cerveza n Lime’

See the blooms from the previous two weeks:

July 7

July 14


I see that my past three posts all feature arrangements, so need to get back on the design posts more to come this week feature ideas and inspiration from my annual trip to Detroit.


In Bloom – July 7

Advice, Flower Truck, G A R D E N S, gardening, Gardens, Inspiration, Landscape Design, Perennials, Plants, Redtwig Farms | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

During the spring we appreciate every flower bloom as the hellebores lead to tulips and daffodils, and by the time the forsythia is done blooming we have so many blooms we can forget to appreciate the weekly progression. I am trying to sit back and really appreciate what each week brings in the garden and make arrangements of the blooms to share each week. I shared these arrangements a few times last year, but plan on keeping the series going for as long as I have blooms to share.


This week the arrangement features a collection of plants that I appreciate for their striking round heads and lack of floral petals. The distinctive shape of these plants make them great for floral arrangements when arranged with softer petals, but also work great together.


In Bloom - July 7, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Here are some detailed photos of the arrangement:

In Bloom - July 7, Thinking Outside the BoxwoodIn Bloom - July 7, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


All these flowers were gathered from our display gardens and in the greenhouse. I selected to grow some for perennial gardens and others for selling in floral markets so it is a random mix of flowers. Here is a breakdown of the individual flowers that complied the arrangement: Listed left to right- Row 1: Rudbeckia occidentalis ‘Green Wizard’, Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Glow’, Echinops bannaticus ‘Star Frost’.  Row 2: Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’, Erygium alphium, Erygium yuccifolium. Row 3: Allium sphaerocephalon, Combination arrangement.

In Bloom - July 7, Thinking Outside the Boxwood- Plant IDs at


Keep checking back each Monday to see how the blooms and arrangements change through the seasons.

Garden Design Magazine

C O N T A I N E R S, Formal Garden, Garden Design Magazine, Garden Structure, gardening, Gardens, Landscape Design, My Work, Plants | Tagged , , , , ,

On Tuesday evening a box of fresh off the press copies of the relaunched Garden Design Magazine arrived at my house.  I know I cannot provide a truly objective point of view since I contributed an article (page #62 ) and pretty much stop every ten minutes to confirm it is really there. But the magazine is must subscribe and great coffee table book.

GARDEN DESIGN MAGAZINE IS BACK! Thinking Outside the Boxwood


When the magazine shut back in 2013, it was sad but not initially mourned. Its last issues were too west coast, uber high end, and less grounded in horticulture. Then I started reading shelter magazines for their garden features and just got annoyed. Great photos, but plant IDs were limited to boxwood, roses, lavender and hydrangeas and never helped readers gain any plant knowledge. Worse yet, articles always skipped over the often amazing landscape designers and architects that created the spaces. Garden Design needed to come back!


The team at the magazine really listened to all the chatter about the magazine, interviewed readers, and realigned to create a garden magazine that can be enjoyed by people across zones, coasts, yard size and level of horticulture knowledge.  The magazine includes no ads or sponsored content and the paper is think with some heft to the magazine.  Congratulations to the team at the magazine and thank you for allowing me to be a part of it. I pinch myself you included me with the cool kids (ahem, Dan Hinkley) in helping to bring it back.


Ok, now go subscribe!







Silver and White

Advice, G A R D E N S, gardening, Gardens, Landscape, Landscape Design, Plants

I will be the first to say, I am a designer who looks a texture before color.  And as you can guess, I think this pairing is a show stopper.  Yes, I know it is not for everybody, but if you like working with a limited pallet of green and white look no further.  The two plants, Salix alba ‘Sericea’ & Hydrangea paniculata ‘Lime Light’ in their own right are fantastic plants but when combined offer a cool, calm and collected garden combination for a large border or perimeter planting for some screening.

Dropping the color from the photo really helps to illustrate the immense texture in this combination.  Now I just need to figure out where I am going to plant these plant and my house…..

Peonies Lately…

Central Ohio, Ohio, Peonies, Pinterest, Plants, Redtwig Farms

I have been busy lately with peonies from our production fields for our floral farm, Redtwig Farms. We may have flooded the central Ohio market with fresh peonies, and next year we will have even more! Below are photos of the actual peonies we grew in our fields. It is amazing each morning to see number of buds we harvest.

I will be back soon with normal landscape/design posts soon. May is already the busiest time of year for us and adding the peony production to the list I have had no time to write.