GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design

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GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

 

I give credit for the monoculture trend in container design to the brilliant container groupings by Danish gardener Claus Dalby. The groupings of containers he places at the entrance of his garden receive over 2,000 Instagram likes for the striking color and scale impact they create. Traditionally you see “mono” container groups of singular variety of specimen plants, such as begonias or succulents. However, this new trend focuses on a variety of plants curated based on color and texture. I compare it to a French or English florist showcasing the seasons best blooms at the entrance to their shop.  The work featured here is all by Claus, but there are a lot of Nordic designers that are creating amazing monoculture container groupings are large and smaller scale.

New Garden Design Trend - Monoculture Container Design showcased in the work by Claus Dalby. More on the trend at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

Generally, monocultures are not a good horticulture practice since they leave your garden vulnerable to pest and disease. Just ask anyone losing their boxwood to boxwood blight or dealing with the relics of Emerald Ash borer. However in container gardens, planting pots in a singular species gives you flexibility in swapping out under performers and revise placement based on height and spread.

 

New Garden Design Trend - Monoculture Container Design showcased in the work by Claus Dalby. More on the trend at Thinkingoutsidetheboxwood.com

 

HOW TO CREATE A MONOCULTURE CONTAINER GROUPING

 

SKILL LEVEL: This container design method is great for gardening novices, you can move and swap to keep it looking fresh and easily replant any unsuccessful pot. Also mono-containers can use smaller, less expensive containers and be placed in compact outdoor spaces. Plant geek level gardeners will also love this trend since you can highlight your unique plants and constantly fiddle with your groupings.

 

PLANT SELECTION: Following in Claus’ footsteps, I recommending following a strict color palate when selecting plants. Either go for variations on one color family or just warm or cool tones. If you are more confident in color theory, mix it up with using complementary colors, etc. But remember this is a designed collection, not a hodgepodge of random plants.

 

CONTAINER SELECTION: This design is great for smaller containers which don’t work with when building combo containers. Since using small and easily moved containers they can be made of just about any material; terracotta (just store indoors during freezing temperatures), metal, concrete, pottery, fiber-clay and reclaimed containers.

 

CARE: Smaller containers will have more frequent maintenance. Check soil daily for moisture. Some weather could require daily watering compared to their in the ground counterparts. Smaller pots provide less organic matter for growing and will result in root bound plants with a shorter plant lifespans for your plants. Outside of watering, remember to fertilize and feed your plants. Also lighter containers could be susceptible to strong winds blowing over, so just take note if placing on a balcony.

 

ARRANGING: For the height and impact, you need a multi-tiered surface. You can start with a grouping of tables nesting together or line a collection down your stairs. You can take it to the next level and find or build a tiered plant stand (try searching antique/vintage French and English plant stand for some ideas). The objective is to have a graduated height with focus on the plants not the stand. For the minimum I would start with 10 containers and a maximum only limited to what the space can hold.

 

GARDEN TREND: Monoculture Container Design, Thinking Outside the Boxwood

I am currently building my small container supply and designing a plant stand based on some antique French models to create my own grand display. I will share the plant stand design and planting results. Also, if you don’t already follow Claus on Instagram (with over 100,000 followers- I hope you do), I highly recommend you add him to your list and include posting notification. Outside of views into his own garden, Claus visits some beautiful gardens across Europe.

Sites for Great RHS Chelsea Flower Show Recaps

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Hard to believe that The RHS Chelsea Flower show has already closed and all the beautiful gardens are being torn down. Since I have yet be able to make the trip across the pond to see the gardens myself, I have gotten good at finding others that have for all the best images and videos. Since I am sure there are others like me looking for the best perspective to the show, I wanted to share my sources. Please if you have any sources please pass long, either videos, blogs or articles. Hopefully soon, I will be able to share my own experience until then I will continue to live vicariously through others. (Sorry for the lack of photos, but I clicking through the links you will not be disappointed)

 

ShootGardening.co.uk

Shoot provides photos and the plant breakdowns for all the show gardens. New this year they provide photographic photos of the plant IDs to help you identify the plants in the gardens and understand how they play with the others with spread, height and texture. This detailed information is great for anyone that needs help ID-ing the plant they like. You can also go back in the archives to previous Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower shows.

 

Preparing for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with James Alexander-Sinclair 

I love anything behind the scenes, and the videos James Alexander-Sinclair did for creating the Zoe Ball Listening Garden provide that on the fly behind the scenes commentary. The second video shows how they tested the sound vibrations in the water, which is just beautiful and you will never understand from looking at the finished photos alone. James has a series of videos called The View from Here… which are also fun watching.

 

RHS 3D Garden Views

For the best quality photos, no one beats the RHS’s own website. For the show gardens they even provide 3D tours, allowing you to experience walking through the spaces experiencing all the different angles. The RHS also has great videos of the whole process leading up to the big reveals that are fun to watch. The link provided is to the landing page of Charlotte Harris’ garden for the Royal Bank of Canada. HERE is another great video with Charlotte talking about the elements that influenced her garden design.

 

The Frustrated Gardener 

For amazing personal photographs, I love the posts from the Frustrated Gardener. The images are beautifully presented on the page, allowing you to focus on each one’s attributes. Beyond the Chelsea articles, this is an amazing blog to add to your reading list for a great garden design perspective.

 

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.