2005 Container Design Challenge Results: Footloose and Flower-Free
2005 finalists' efforts can serve as inspiration for entries this year
by Michelle Gervais
For our annual container design challenge, we asked our readers to make the best use of interesting leaves -- and they delivered.
Given the staggering amount of plants with stunning foliage on the market these days, we challenged our readers to create spectacular container designs that depended solely on interesting leaves -- that's right, no flowers allowed. The response was overwhelming. Apparently, gardeners have been taking advantage of foliage in their container plantings for years. The designs we've chosen not only are compelling on their own but also look good all summer long with minimal maintenance. There are also a number of options for shade.
We received more than 200 entries from gardeners throughout North America. Thanks to everyone who participated, and congratulations to our winner and the finalists showcased in the May/June 2006 issue of Fine Gardening (#109). Down with deadheading!
A sampling of the finalists Here are two finalists from last year's challenge. To see the winner and several more finalists, pick up a copy of the May/June 2006 issue of Fine Gardening (#109) today.
Container designed by Robin Blesse; photo: Robin Blesse.
A pot to match a garden Robin Blesse, Newcastle, Ontario, Canada Robin was inspired by the photos of last year's finalists to enter this year's challenge. She loved the design she had planted in this same pot last year, and decided to replicate it as closely as she could without flowers. As a self-proclaimed "plant fanatic," she spent many an hour researching plants, with help from plant enthusiasts at the garden center where she works in spring. The result is a study in shades of yellow and blue, which matches the theme of the surrounding garden.
Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens, Z 4-9)
Dichondra (Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls', Z 9-11)
Golden sage (Salvia officinalis 'Aurea', Z 5-8)
Heuchera (Heuchera "Lime Rickey", Z 3-8)
Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita' , Z 11)
Container designed by Nancy Falconer; photo: Afchin Pedram.
Putting on the pink Nancy Falconer, Ithaca, New York Nancy thought about her entry for several weeks, mixing and matching plants in a pink and plum color scheme. She chose the Madagascar dragon tree first, for its pink and white edges and spiky form. The peacock plant, whose leaves sport plum-colored undersides, came next. She settled on caladium for a big splash of pink, the coleus to continue the plum element, and the ivy to echo the variegation of the dragon tree. Nancy credits Cornell Plantations, a public garden she visits quite often at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, for the bulk of her gardening inspiration.
Caladium (Caladium bicolor cv., tropical)
Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides cv., annual)
English ivy (Hedera helix 'Nena', Z 5-11)
Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor', Z 11)