Container Gardening Ideas – Window Planters – Colour Schemes


colour co-ordinated hanging flower baskets

Creating Colour Schemes for Window Planters, and Garden Pots and Planters

When walking along a short residential street, a square or a close, or even when looking up at a block of flats, it would be nice to see some overall colour scheme for their window planters, hanging flower baskets or other plantings. For individualists, however, there are plenty of ideas to be found. I recently admired a large cartwheel painted in a colour to match the house and hung around with potted plants.

Another idea I liked, outside a gipsy’ caravan, was an arrangement of three gaily-painted barge water cans planted up with coleus plants which complemented the strong colours and patterns on the cans. Both these novel ideas fitted the homes which they adorned.

What about making a leafy jungle around the front door with wall-hung flower planters and individual pots? These might be placed on wooden shelving painted to match the door. Another way would be to place wall baskets and tubs around a piece of sculpture — wood, stone, or ceramic. This can look great arranged against a plain white wall, and here sculptural foliage will really come into its own. There are inexpensive yet good-looking lion masks and cherub heads on sale, meant actually as water spouts for garden pools, and they make excellent wall pieces to give emphasis to a grouping of plant containers.

Colour and texture can be exploited in all kinds of interesting ways. For instance, a stone bird-bath might make a very unusual container for ‘grow anywhere’ plants, like bright yellow stonecrop or mixed houseleeks with their subtle colouration, even if the bird-bath has no drainage hole. I make a mound of compost rather than leaving it level below the rim of the bath. Climb pastel-coloured sweet peas and yellow canary creeper or variegated ivies up a metal or wickerwork bedhead fastened to a wall, to make a dramatic feature for, say, the balcony of a flat. These bedheads with their swirling designs make remarkably impressive and original supports for climbing plants.

In some situations a large, deep, home-made wooden box lacquered a brilliant Chinese red or orange can look expensively effective with, for example, flamboyantly-coloured nasturtiums growing out of it, or try yellow and orange Charm or Cascade chrysanthemum plants. This scheme might not look so good in the depths of the country against old timbers (where the box might be better stained to link with its surroundings) but could be stunning outside a smart town dwelling. Novel ideas soon come with a little imagination. How about hanging an old birdcage, painted black, in the entrance to a town garden? Plant it with variegated ivies, ferns, or fuchsias. It can hang from its own stand, or from a simple archway of white, blue, or green trellis.

Near the sea I have seen old small boats used to great effect as planters, hung — not too high —from a handy beam by chains fore and aft. One I saw painted blue and white and planted with scarlet zinnias looked patriotic as well as eye-catching, but a totally different visual effect could be managed by planting with mixed jewel-coloured dwarf zinnias.

Ideas which might look funny in one situation are perfectly at home in another. Old oil drums may not immediately catch the imagination as containers, but I once saw them used to great effect as the entire container garden on the deck of a houseboat moored on the Thames in London. The boat itself was painted black and white, and the oil drums were black to match; they had been cut down to a variety of sizes and vigorously planted with flowers in a motley collection of colours.

Do your own thing and be inventive, as much with colour as with the things you can press into service as plant containers. There is no special virtue in the British love of mixing lots of different plants (and colours) in one container.

More memorable results may come for you by displaying a greater quantity of just one kind of plant in one container. You might experiment with mixed pink and white trailing geraniums (pelargoniums) or the hardy garden anthemis cupaniana with its grey foliage which is sprigged from early summer onwards with white daisies. After anthemis seem to have finished flowering you can cut back all the shoots which have bloomed and new shoots will continue to flower for many weeks.

Instead of one kind of plant in one container, what about that idea of just one colour? Variation and visual interest can still be achieved with variety of shape and texture, for one colour need not necessarily mean only one kind of flower. You could have a refreshing scheme of frilly white azaleas under-planted with crisp white pansies in your window planters, white trails of lobelia set off by more white pansies, or white begonias, in the hanging baskets, and white pelargoniums massed in boxes by the front porch. The flowers’ own green foliage does, of course, make a cool setting for immaculate white.

Or you could go to the other extreme and select a more vivid colour, say joyous orange. There might be African marigolds of a good, strong, look-at-me orange, with pendulous tangerine begonias for the hanging flower baskets and paler orange tagetes in window planters, and terracotta garden pots and planters might have gazanias with orange marigolds. Such colour schemes look magnificent if planted fearlessly, full and fairly close.

Another idea would be to take one colour, perhaps yellow, and ring changes on the theme with tints and shades ranging from pale creamy yellow to bright butter yellow, and even on towards copper or old gold. The flowers could be polyanthus, wallflowers, alyssum, and doronicum, with trailers of Hedera Goldheart or Hedera Buttercup for the spring.

Softly-coloured blue hydrangeas in garden pots and planters in summer could be colour-matched with hanging baskets of the ever-useful lobelia in pale to deep blues, both dwarf sorts and trailers, plus that remarkable nautical blue convolvulus tricolor ‘Royal Ensign’ to make the whole thing shipshape. The colours we use must depend on the plants we can get. Excellent sources are well-stocked nurseries and garden centres, Women’s Institute market stalls, or florists’ shops with good suppliers. Some of these, if we inquire early enough, will try to get the particular plants and colours we need. Other plants can be lifted from the garden as they come into flower, or can be specially grown in the garden in pots and transferred to the containers as they bud up. It is a matter of planning ahead, and it is best to try to resist the ‘one of this and two of that’ philosophy, the job lot of bulbs, and so forth, when you are hoping for a good display.

06. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Container Gardening, Gardening Ideas, Hanging Baskets, Window Boxes | Tags: , | Comments Off on Container Gardening Ideas – Window Planters – Colour Schemes

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