Great plants lead to great combinations
To see these plants identified, click the image to enlarge it.
Many plants are highly suitable for cool-season containers. I like to start with a true fall performer—although it may not be the most notable plant in the container—and build around it for a rich, overflowing combination.
Bergenias (Bergenia spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) are great in fall containers, when their glossy green leaves become a bronzy red. For a design that epitomizes the season, I partner bergenia with red pansies and redtwig dogwood. The deep red pansies echo the color the bergenia will become, while the dogwood adds height, contrasting form, and complementary color. And its leafless branches are in keeping with the season. I round out the container by adding dark ‘Palace Purple’ heuchera and brightening things with a gold-thread sawara cypress.
New Zealand flax is eye-catching in any season. Its striking, swordlike leaves add strength and excitement to a design, making it perfect to plan a container around. I combine the cream, pink, and green leaves of ‘Sundowner’ New Zealand flax with some similarly colored ‘Imperial Antique Shades’ pansies (photo, p. 35). The two-toned foliage of ‘Amber Waves’ heuchera makes it seem seasonally appropriate, as though it were fading to autumn colors. Another heuchera, ‘Plum Pudding’, provides dark, heavy-looking leaves with a wonderfully ruffled texture.