Containers as Focal Points
It can be a challenge to find that one element to act as a focal point around which we can build a cohesive theme for our gardens. We may be seeking a color story, a design style (i.e. cottage, tropical, native) or just a component to draw the eye into a specific area of the garden. Perhaps we wish to create vignettes by grouping pleasing textures, colors and forms together. Containers-much like a ‘specimen’ tree or shrub- either planted or empty, can provide a centerpiece around which other fundamentals of a garden area coalesce.
In this Portland Oregon Plant collectors’ garden, an imposing container gives the eye a resting place, and injects a splash of color. Because the designer did not scrimp on size, or shy away from a bold hue, this oil jar style container can be seen from almost anywhere in the garden.
In this same garden, another large container marks the front entry and provides structure for a small courtyard.
A nursery display garden in Mendocino County uses a similar device to add interest and create an axis in a long path along the west border.
At Hollister House in Washington Connecticut , this pathway container is sited to lead the visitor towards the portal in the hedgerow.
In this private garden on Bainbridge Island Washington, a container planted Yucca rostrata anchors the corner of a patio area, drawing the eye to the flower garden beyond.
In the iconic garden of artists Little and Lewis, this planted container set atop a pillar raises the level of the garden and along with the color saturated pillar and pergola breaks up the monotony of the green foliage backdrop.
Containers placed directly into the garden add interest in many ways. Here at Coastal Maine Botanic Garden in Boothbay, this simple terra-cotta jug adds a subtle color point to a long border of greenery near the entrance.
In decorative artist Deanne Fortnams’ garden in New Hampshire, this urn is densely planted and set among low ground hugging plants to elevate the vignette.
Returning to Coastal Maine, these striking combination pots are strategically positioned within the herb and vegetable garden and as entry beacons, again elevating the scene above ground level. In addition, they add a splendid ornamental element to a working edible garden.
You can see here how different this scene would appear if not for the central container planting of Hakone grass which unifies with the seating pieces and directs the eye to the stand of Scheherazade lilies in the background.
Finally, even a table-top sized pot seen here planted with Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ and placed on a side table has something to contribute.