Knockout Garden Containers


Designer Mark Bartos shares his strategies for making a grand entrance

Sharon Cohoon

Q: Which plants always command attention?

A: New Zealand flax, for one. I love its boldness and iron constitution. 'Firebird' is my favorite ― it's a great color (red, turning bronze-orange in summer). 'Skyrocket' juniper ( Juniperus scopulorum) is very narrow and blue, and looks great flanking an entrance. Agaves give Mediterranean gardens punch, and growing them in containers restricts their size. A. angustifolia 'Marginata' is a favorite. Mexican weeping bamboo ( Otatea acuminata aztecorum) has a beautiful lacy texture that creates instant serenity. Variegated Italian buckthorn ( Rhamnus alaternus 'Variegata') has the simplest of leaves but a complex, almost tortured shape. I love the contrast.

Q: Flowers never play a very important part in your containers. Why is that?

A: Choosing plants for their flowers is like picking an actor for his wardrobe. But if you base your decisions on the shape, texture, and overall character of plants, you'll have a container that looks good year-round.

 Resource: Pots from Asian Ceramics (to the trade only).

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