Container idea: Leaf love

Leaves in a container

Leaves, the often under-appreciated players of a great container planting.

I was at a big box store a few days ago (ok, Costco) and barely got out alive. People were scrambling to grab white plastic hanging baskets stuffed with all kinds of crayola-coloured flowers. The prices were insane, of course. But as I dodged a careening cart bulging with containers of hot pink geraniums, peachy million bells and bright purple whatchacallits, I was tempted to yell “It ain’t just about the flowers, lady!” But I feared I’d be misunderstood. Again.

Here’s the thing. In my opinion. Leaves are just as important as flowers. Maybe even more so when it comes to planting up a container you’re gonna love until that hard frost drops it. They provide texture, for sure. And they help fill in those gaps we sure don’t want. But leaves can add so much more.

Here are three reasons why you’ll want to leaf it up.

To make a space feel bigger:  You can use leaves the way an interior designer uses paint and furniture. For example, if you put a container planted with large leafed plants like Elephant Ear on a small apartment balcony, the container can really be in your face, making the space feel small and crowded. On the other hand, pots of plants with delicate, fine textured leaves, particularly in cool colours like soft greens and silvery blues, tend to recede, softening the hard lines of the balcony and making a space appear larger.

To get things moving: Grasses and shrubs with finely textured leaves like Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’  will dance in the slightest breeze–just the ticket for a patio needing some distraction.

To have colour and fragrance longer: Flowering plants aren’t always in bloom but plants chosen for their leaves can put on a slowly changing show of colours from fresh spring green to deeper tones in summer and a final flame-out in the fall. And when there aren’t flowers to add a nice fragrance, herbs and grasses can add scent with nary a bloom.


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