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.


Interview with Annika Zetterman

DESIGNER INTERVIEW, GARDEN DESIGN, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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)



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



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.


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.



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:


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



Felco nr 9, as I am left handed



Tape measure, pencil and drawing pad.



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



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



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



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



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!



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.)





  • 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.






Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist

Green wall, Landscape Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Back in February, I traveled to Cleveland to hear Patrick Blanc speak on the Science, Architecture and Design of Vertical Gardens. The Shaker Lakes Garden Club hosted the event in which Patrick spoke for a full two hours and shared hundreds of images and projects. Patrick is the person responsible for vertical gardening across the world, with the inspiration and foundation starting as a boy in love with aquariums and providing the best environment for fish. What I think is missing in a lot of main stream articles about Patrick is the fact he is a scientist first and foremost in botany and has spent a lifetime exploring the world studying and discovering new plant varieties. It is his vast knowledge and lifetime of passion and curiosity that as giving him the ability to be both the founder and maverick of the vertical gardening world.

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

A private residence in Seoul, features green walls in a motor court that engulfs visitors and blurs the lines of the space. The birch trees are striking against the green backdrop. One of my favorite projects he has completed.


When he explains the systems, it all seems so simple and straight forward, but again that because of his expansive knowledge and experience. His walls can have hundreds of different plant species woven together, however each plant and placement is made based on the individual sight specifications such as direct sunlight based on surrounding structures. The irrigation systems are rigged to deliver water based on the wall placement. Indoor locations get shorter more frequent watering compared to outdoor spaces. He is also very specific in the nutrients added to the watering system, knowing the balance of the plants needing only a bit of some nutrients. Finally, maintenance should just be watching the watering and periodic trimming back if following his directions.

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

(Posted information at the Shin-Yamaguchi Station in Japan showcasing the plants included (many native to the area), Patrick’s sketch for plant placement and the young plants of the wall to the left.)


Besides his ability to put is work into such simple terms to understand the basics of the system, is his ability to constantly be pushing what and where vertical gardens can be. Here are a few projects he shared that I enjoyed the most, but his website lists so many you should really explore.


His personal home, featuring a home office on a glass topped aquarium with green tendrils dripping down the walls, filled with frogs and birds. It is pretty magical in photos, can only imagine what it is like in person, especially in the evening with lighting in the aquarium. More photos of his residence are HERE)

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Blank walls seem to be the logical place for a vertical garden, but this project for a free-standing sculpture covered was an aha thought, you don’t need a building with a blank wall to go vertical. (More photos of the Spiral at Chaumont Sur Loire HERE).

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Another great example of thinking away from the empty wall, is this rainforest chandelier hanging down the center of a shopping mall in Bangkok.   (You can see more images of the project HERE)

Patrick Blanc – A Madly Inspiring Scientist & Artist, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


All the images on the post are from Patrick’s site, so I highly recommend you check it out and explore. A great tool is the project MAP, you can see where all the projects are located, maybe in you area during your future travels.