Garden Photo of the Day

Container Magic

Colorful foliage and flowers work together in beautiful container plantings

Dawn Johnson from Memphis, Tennesee sent along these images of some beautiful container plantings she put together for a client. Her containers step outside the usual by combining shrubs, perennials, and annuals, and getting brilliant color from both foliage and flowers. I asked Dawn how she put these combinations together, and she told me that for one, it all started with a plant, sweet olive ‘Apricot Echo’ (Osmanthus fragrans var. aurantiacus ‘Yue Yue Hong’, Zones 8 – 10). She said, “I really fell in love with the sweet olives when I saw them with their colorful foliage. And there just happened to be only two left at the nursery, so I felt like they were meant for me. I then chose the other plants in the containers to coordinate with the sweet olives. Love the brightness of the heuchera!”

In the smaller container, she went for bright plants that would lend color and light to a dim, part-shade area. She started with bright yellow variegated osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ (Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’ Zone 7 – 9), and then complemented that color with the plants around it.

Sweet olive ‘Apricot Echo’ (Osmanthus fragrans var. aurantiacus ‘Yue Yue Hong’, zone 8 – 10) has fragrant peach flowers through the winter, and come spring, bright red new growth that contrasts with the green older leaves. The green-and-red color scheme is carried on by bright Heuchera ‘Fire Alarm’ (Fire alarm coral bell, Zone 3 – 8) Nandina domestica ‘Firepower’ (heavenly bamboo, Zone 6 – 11) Lenten Rose ‘Ivory Prince’ (Helleborus ‘Walhelivor’, Zone 3 – 8), variegated English ivy (Hedera helix, Zone 5 – 11), and pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis, Zone 4 – 8).

Close up of the red and green foliage combining with white flowers in the container.

A second set of planters is built around the brilliant osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ (Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’ Zone 7 – 9), with the yellow color complemented by Carex siderosticha ‘Banana Boat’ (Banana boat sedge, Zone 5 – 9), yellow viola (Viola x wittrockiana, annual) and contrasting red dianthus.

Close up of the yellow and red color scheme.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/21/2018

    Great looking containers and plant groupings, Dawn. I'm a fellow Tennessean but you had more success with the ‘Goshiki’ as a planter focal point than I did. My Knoxville winter was just cold enough to kill mine off but it looked great until Feb. I can see why the new foliage of sweet olive ‘Apricot Echo’ really caught your eye. It's quite striking and you've accented it beautifully with the 'Fire Alarm' coral bell. Nice job!

  2. user-7003263 03/21/2018

    Very pretty pots. Like Michaele, I like the new foliage of sweet olive 'Apricot Echo' and the combination of perennials and annuals you put together around it.

  3. user-7017435 03/21/2018

    Your colorful containers are a welcome site on this cold snowy morning in central Md. Is that Duetzia Yuki, Cherry Blossom combined with Huechera ? I've had good luck with overwintering both in containers & Huechera Peach Blossom provides 4 season color.
    Terrific combinations,thank you & good luck, Joe

  4. cheryl_c 03/21/2018

    Dawn , I loved your second picture of the sweet olive with the hellebore - what a great combination that NEVER would have occurred to me to attempt! Of course the other plants in the pot just add to the subtle combination, but, my goodness, what a nice surprise!

  5. User avater
    richardanderson 02/01/2019

    I love to see these flowers. these plants are unique. I really like the colors of these flowers

  6. brycedixon 04/01/2021

    Beautiful flowers and containers!
    geometry dash

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