This year I was originally thinking about planting tropical hibiscus in my containers out front because we had one that did so well last year. Over the few years of landscaping our front stoop I have come to realize we actually get a good dose of morning and early afternoon sun. With the success of the hibiscus last year I pretty much came to assume I can pull off full sun loving annuals. However, when I finally took the time to run around town the one thing I didn't find was the hibiscus I was hoping for. Some retailers had them in stock but they looked too neglected and beat up. I had a certain color scheme in mind and it just wasn't coming to fruition. So, as any horticulturist would, I bagged the idea of what it was that I exactly wanted (if you think about it a very human-centric approach to landscaping which can often get you in a pickle) and instead began looking through what was available, seeing if I could find a decent match (a much more logical approach).
Of all places I actually got a good idea at the Home Depot. They had mixed containers of annuals pre-made and sitting outside to be easily gobbled up by the slightly less adventurous, more instant gratification garden enthusiast. One had a dark purple petunia paired with a bright orange marigold. Hmm, I thought. I continued to roll my cart along, slowly cogs began to turn. I bet I could do something like that but better.
When learning color and composition of garden design you learn about how you can pick a few dominant colors to be your guide and base your design and plant selection on those. Often you might try and pick a few colors that work easily together because whether consciously or not they are comfortable to the eye and easy to digest visually. These might be colors on the same side or close to each other on the color wheel. Then perhaps you figure out a contrast color from the other side of the color wheel as well so you have some contrast and variety and something sparks a slightly more complicated aesthetic chord throughout your design. I love contrast in the garden so I often lean towards super pop.
I had a few plants already in place out front and a few houseplants that I bring out for the summer. So I already had green (remember, green is a color in the garden!) foliage on the chrysanthemums in two different pots, and silver with a little shot of red on the succulent kalanchoe and the begonia I cut back hard before bringing out. Kind of a funny combination but in the same pot as the green germander is a Tradescantia which will produce silver/green fuzzy leaves that I hope will trail down. I decided on a color scheme of green-silver-purple(-a touch of red) with orange as the contrast color. And I give to you the arborboy summer containers for 2009.
On top to the left we have the Begonia 'Sinbad' which should push out new wing-shaped foliage in silver and purple/red to go along with the Kalanchoe on the bottom step and the trailing Tradescantia (to the right on the stair above the bottom), planted in the same container as the green Teucreum (germander). Above the Kalanchoe the Juniperus procumbens 'Nana' will continue to slowly pour out silver and green foliage year-round that will eventually begin cascading down the steps. On the top right I am hoping Oxalis 'Charmed Wine' will be protected enough and continue to do well, (it might want more shade to be happiest), but matched with the Petunia 'Supertunia Royal Velvet' you have great strong shots of purple up and down throughout the layout. And finally the poppy Tagetes (marigolds) are scattered throughout the pots and layers to provide that little bit of wow. In the big rolled-rim pot and below that with the marigolds the Korean chrysanthemum will bloom late in fall once the petunias and marigolds are on their way out. There you have it, green, silver, purple, orange. We'll see how everything does as the summer goes on. Remember too, horticulture is always a learning process no matter what your skill level. Enjoy.