Mix it up and be adventurous

A few weeks ago I designed some planters for the entrance of a “sophisticated comfort”  food store on a busy street in Ottawa.  Although their signature colour is red, I decided to avoid the predictability of red geraniums and opted for a more subtle colour palette.

I had remembered Paul Zammit waxing poetic about the new varieties of papyrus, namely Cyperus ‘King Tut’, a variety from the Proven Winners people.  This cultivar can reach from 4′ up to 6′ tall and is very striking when planted in a large container.  Its a great substitute for grasses since it provides the same kind of verticality and breezy movement.

The overall effect is quite subdued, with colours ranging from silver/white to green to purple/black and blush pink.  If you look closely you can also see a hint of true blue.  Here are the plants that I’ve used:

Alternanthera ‘Purple Knight’ (annual)

Anagallis ‘Wildcat Blue’ (annual)

Brassica oleracea (edible annual)

Cosmos atrosanguineus   (rare annual)

Cyperus papyrus ‘King Tut’ (tropical used as an annual)

Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ (annual)

Gaura lindheimeri Stratosphere (TM) ‘Pink Picotee’ (marginally hardy perennial)

Helichrysum ‘Mini Silver’ (I know this plant as the perennial Artemisia stelleriana ‘Silver Brocade’)

Pennisetum x advena ‘Rubrum’ (annual)

Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’ (annual)

Sedum munstead ‘Strawberries and Cream’ (perennial)

I don’t normally go to the nursery with a preconceived idea or list of the plants I want; this kind of shopping inevitably ends in frustration and failure.  Rather, I go in with a big cart and start loading up, creating a theme or colour story, and selecting plants that will provide height, mass, texture and overflow.  And as you can tell from the list above, I don’t shy away from using different kinds of plants:  tropicals, annuals, edibles and perennials.

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