Garden Photo of the Day

Containers by Lynn in Wisconsin

The left container is all perennials….Ligularia japonica, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola', Hosta 'June', and 'Sweet Tea' heucherella.  The middle container is simply Astilbe 'Delft Lace' and Hosta 'Mighty Mouse'.  Those plants were waiting to go into a small garden to be planted in the fall.  The right hand container is Vinca 'Illumination', purple fountain grass, and one perennial 'Sweet Tea' heucherella.  These containers received only morning sun to about 11:00.  As you enter our property from the highway, you first see a long 3-1/2 car garage.  I use containers between the doors all the way across.

Day 2 with Lynn Nehring in Wisconsin! Today she says, "Recently I have been planting many perennials in containers, alone or with annuals.  If you have an area where you can hold things over winter it can save a lot of money to use some perennials rather than all annuals in your containers.  At the end of the season, I replant the perennials in a holding bed and the overflow in the black dirt pile.  I would like to share some of the combinations I've used." All of those heucheras and heucherellas, Lynn–they are AMAZING in containers! I have to remember this for spring. Thanks so much for sharing with us these past two days!

Send me photos of YOUR garden! Email me at [email protected]

Come and meet up at the  Northwest Flower and Garden Show this year!

I'm scheduled to give another GPOD talk (A few of you will be getting emails in the next two weeks as I put together the slideshow…), and a number of people have emailed to say that they'll be at the show, and that they'd love to meet up with a bunch of fellow GPODers!

The RSVPs so far:

Glenda Curdy (Nurserynotnordstrom)
Tia Scarce
Jeanne Cronce (Greengenes)
Sheila Schultz
Shirley Graves
Chris Niblack (ChrisSeattle)
Kielian DeWitt (Annek)
Linda Skyler (Meelianthus)
Kathy Schuler

So…who else is going to be there?? Let us all know in the comments, and we can start planning an outing! Perhaps after-dinner drinks one night at the bar at the Sheraton?  I'll repeat this announcement for the next week or so, at least, and keep a running list of who's coming….enticement for even more people to come. Oh, and when you comment to say you'll be there, give us your real name so that I can plan name tags that include both that and your screen name…

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Here I've used a variety of annual coleus with Hakonechloa grass, alongside the Heuchera 'Cinnamon Curls' and a potted hydrangea.  I often buy smaller shrubs, growing them in pots for a couple years before moving them to a more permanent location.  Having many things in containers allows me to fill in vacant spaces in the gardens as well.

The large container is Hosta 'Roy Klehm' along with pieces of Boston fern.  Heuchera 'Caramel' on either side and an annual in the front.

This was one of my favorites.  All perennials:  Hosta 'June' and autumn fern, Sedum 'Blue Spruce', Hakonechloa 'All Gold', and Heuchera 'Cinnamon Curls'.

This is the north side of the house.  I use three large containers in the corner to achieve height and color.  Since no rain gets into the corner, the containers do better (with much watering of course).  Ligularia, astilbe, hostas, and hakonechloa grasses all do exceptionally well in containers.  I add an impatiens for color.

Another favorite.

Taken September 14.  A mum plant combined well with the gorgeous Heucherella 'Copper Cascade'.

This picture is from several years ago when I got carried away doing a fall display.

The left container is eucalyptus along with the Heuchera 'Cinnamon Curls' and again the 'Sweet Tea' heucherella, purple fountain grass, and Hedera helix 'Golden Child', I believe.  You may have guessed by now that I got a good deal on several 'Sweet Tea' heucherella.

View Comments


  1. Nurserynotnordstroms 01/22/2015

    Lynn great pots I love using perennials too like you said they are great to move later on into the gardens. Is that a begonia on the right in the photo with caption "another favorite" can you tell me what it is if you can remember? Also will you tell me where you get your plant tags?they look like really great tags.your plant combinations are really wonderful and I have really enjoyed your photos these past two days I'm so glad you shared them with us.

    1. satisfaction 01/22/2015

      Thanks for you comments! That is a begonia. I have the tag right here as it's the most beautiful one I've seen. 'GRYPHON' Begonia Hybrid. It went well with the Japanese Painted Fern (which barely shows). My plant markers are from Kindcaid Plant Markers. You can't go wrong with them. I've used plastic, wood, aluminum and whatever. None can stand up to these. They're 100% sturdy stainless steel. You'll probably recognize some of the pictures on his website.

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 01/23/2015

        Thank you so much for looking that begonia up. I love it and I hope I can locate one or two because colors are amazing. I'm going to google the plant markers because it is so hard to find good ones and yours looked like something of quality. Hope you will share more of your gardens again,I have really enjoyed all of the comments you inspired and the excitement that was felt from your photos.

    2. satisfaction 01/23/2015

      Sorry!!! I looked at the wrong tag this morning. That is a "Rex" begonia called 'Purple Snow'. The 'Gryphon' I referred to is lovely too and I usually grow that as a stand alone plant.

  2. perenniallycrazy 01/22/2015

    Such healthy and luscious containers Lynn! Love your strategy of planting them up in the fall thus you can enjoy them first while you figure out the best place for them in the garden. I love perennial containers - they do not have that "tired and wasted look on the latter part of summer" like annuals do. Heucheras and heucherellas are some of my absolute favorite container plants. I refer to them as the "coleus" of the perennial world. Can't wait to see what you do with your next batch of perennial containers... I do wonder what you would do when you run out of garden to plant in like me?!

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/22/2015

      Hi Cherry. I love your comment that Heuchera and Heucherella are the coleus of the perennial world. With all the exciting and varied foliage color, and sometimes some great flowers to boot, I could never be without them or stop trying new ones!

      1. sheila_schultz 01/22/2015

        Tim and Cherry... I'm with you guys. I couldn't do without heucheras or heucherellas in my containers or gardens. Don't you just love all the newer orange tones?

        1. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/22/2015

          The orangey-copper tones drive me mad with desire, and I mentioned above my new love affair with the silver tones. I've never used them in containers. I might need to now. I'm thinking a silver-leaved variety with black mondo grass and something startlingly purple!

          1. sheila_schultz 01/22/2015

            We are usually a year or two behind when it comes to new plants, but I did start noticing more silver-leaved varieties last year. I'm so stealing your combo idea... if I can find decent black mondo grass. I love that little grass but it's generally pretty shabby looking at our nurseries.

          2. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/22/2015

            Happy to share. I've never grown the black mondo grass. I see it regularly at nurseries here and it looks good, but for some reason it is always very expensive (at least relative to the size of the plant). Maybe we can have a black and silver combo invitational. :)

          3. sheila_schultz 01/22/2015

            Hmmmm... a GPOD challenge. Could be fun ;)

      2. perenniallycrazy 01/23/2015

        Ditto Lynn. I haven't met a heuchera or heucherella that I didn't like.

  3. bsavage 01/22/2015

    Lynn, your gardens and containers are gorgeous! Love the combinations... and I'm pinning them to remind me in the spring! Thanks for sharing!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/22/2015

    Love your approach to using so many colorful and texture rich perennials in your containers, Lynn. I think you have stirred up some extra enthusiasm for tracking down and including heucherellas in many of us. I am assuming your containers stay out through the winter but perhaps I am wrong about that. However, if so, are they mostly a fiberglass/resin type that can withstand freezing and do you find them locally or have a particular mail order source? They are very attractive although subtle.

    1. sheila_schultz 01/22/2015

      Michaele, their are some beautiful glazed ceramic containers available now that can withstand freeze-thaw issues. They are fired at higher temps and typically out of Viet Nam.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 01/22/2015

        I'll be on the look out, Sheila because, at this point, I always bring my glazed ceramic ones in for the winter. I do like to keep some pots outside for the winter and those are fiberglass types, i assume. This past summer, I bought some inexpensive ones which had colors I didn't particularly like and I just painted them. They are living outside this winter so I can see how they hold up.

        1. sheila_schultz 01/23/2015

          Michaele, if you like ceramic containers, they are heavy to move w/ or w/out soil, esp. when they are large. (Are there any other kind?)

          Fiber pots can also be gorgeous and they don't have to be cheap looking. So many possibilities out there now!
          I'm concerned about the pots you so lovingly painted. Since they are non-glazed, you must empty them and cover w/ a heavy duty plastic bag, even for your pretty gentle winters. (It's the moisture that wrecks them I think.)

          Living in Denver and having clients that don't want to deal w/details but want their pots to last forever (?)... I've learned a lot about pots.

          1. User avater
            meander_michaele 01/23/2015

            Sheila, quite a few years ago, I treated myself to some high quality fiberglass planters from a company called Claycraft. They were horrendously expensive back then as far as I was concerned and just a few months ago, I decided to see if they had a website and what their pricing was like. Ouch...they are waay more pricy than before. However, I have always kept them outside and their patinas have stayed perfect. I have always felt so grateful that I took the plunge and bought a few.
            The ones I am living "dangerously" with that I painted this summer were quite cheap...$4 close outs from Walmart but they seemed decently sturdy and were good sized. I am curious to see what happens to them so I am willing to suffer the loss if my experiment is a failure. I do appreciate your advice and if they had cost more, I probably would not have taken the risk.

          2. sheila_schultz 01/23/2015

            Michaele, my thought is that you look at a couple of your important containers that are falling apart. Replace them with high quality fiber or ceramic pieces. They should last for many years and will earn their keep. It's a hit in the beginning, but consider how much has been spent replacing the $4 pots. My large ceramic pieces and quality fiber pieces have been outside in Denver year round for 8-9 years now. I also don't empty them... flies against what we know, but saves visits to the chiropractor ;)

          3. sheila_schultz 01/23/2015

            PS If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to give the names of the container companies I trust. Nothing lasts forever, but we have had good luck with a couple. They are not cheap, but worth the initial hit if you plan on having them for a few years.

          4. User avater
            meander_michaele 01/23/2015

            Wow, Sheila, I am impressed that you have ceramic containers that have served you so well staying outdoors all year round. I would love if you shared the name of your buying sources. I love to look at websites that have that kind of merchandise. Ah, yes, we gardeners do keep chiropractors in business, don't we?!

          5. sheila_schultz 01/23/2015

            My main source is Campania... they are my go-to brand and their gorgeous pots are available at most nurseries. I'm embarrassed to say that the other 'brand' for ceramics has left my feeble mind, but I have a message in to my supplier and I will let you know as soon as I get the name ;(

          6. Nurserynotnordstroms 01/23/2015

            I personally love AW pottery pots ,they all stay outside every year. So sorry if I butted in but I love to read what everyone writes and I always learn something new

      2. satisfaction 01/23/2015

        The glazed ceramic containers are beautiful but just too heavy for us to work with. Many of my containers come from Menards and if I'm lucky they are on sale. Others from two local garden centers. We've painted a few of the resin type and they look good for a few years. We left two fiberglass/cement combination urns out over winter but they cracked badly.

    2. satisfaction 01/22/2015

      I've been collecting containers for many years. I'm still using the fiberglass ones I got in the early 90's. We empty every one in the late fall, clean them out and store most of them in the basement....that's because we need the garage for our vehicles in the winter.

  5. VikkiVA 01/22/2015

    Dear Lynn, Thanks for all the container ideas. I love Hakonechloa and have several in the garden but have never considered using it in a container. You have used yours as a stunning addition in your planters. I'll be trying many of your combinations. Vikki in VA

  6. Lisianne 01/22/2015

    Wow. I have been getting very, very bored by container planting ideas lately. All magazines seem to show the same kinds of things following the same kinds of rules -- and they're all just the same. These are different, and I particularly like the first photo. I never have seen ligularia grown in a pot nor thought of doing so. And the variegated vinca mixed with the heucherella on the right is simply stunning. Thanks for some new ideas!

  7. lesliefarrelldelongpre 01/22/2015

    I love the possibilities of container gardening. Your combinations are unique and eye catching. I'm going to dream and plan how I can incorporate pot combinations in my yard, this next season. Thanks for your inspirations! kudos!

  8. Luvfall 01/22/2015

    Lynn, I use containers as nursery pots too. I started when I tried to rescue a tiny piece of Japanese fern. After wintering it over in the garage (Wisconsin) it came back bigger than a gallon perennial and I was hooked. It's really effective for those poor, neglected specimens you find for a dollar or two in July and August. You've given me tons of ideas for new combinations - I love your description of heucheras as the coleus of perennials.

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/22/2015

    Lynne, these are awesome. I bet Sheila Shultz is going to be taking some notes! I might have to rethink my containers for next year. The Heucherella in the the containers are stunning. My Copper Cascade did not really perform well in the ground for it's first year, so I'm hoping it takes off leaps and bounds in the spring. As much as I love the coppery-colored varieties, last summer I fell in love with the silver and pewter colored cultivars, like Heuchera Stainless Steel and Heucherella Gunsmoke. I've plugged several different ones in my garden. Once I see how they perform, I'll have to figure out how use them. I bet you could make some stunning combinations using the silvery, foil-like leaved varieties. Love that coleus combo, too.

    1. satisfaction 01/22/2015

      My Copper Cascade grabbed the ground the first year and started traveling. I had to cut it back as I didn't want it to travel too far. The soil is loose there and had cocoa bean mulch. I buy more coleus than any other annual. With our shade and part-shade conditions, it always works.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/22/2015

        I guess my soil is pretty heavy. If mine doesn't take off this spring I'll move it or lift to amend the soil. Thanks for the tip!

    2. sheila_schultz 01/22/2015

      Tim, you know me too well! I'm also lusting after that front coleus ;)

  10. annek 01/22/2015

    I've got an iPad and a computer on my lap looking at your plant combinations and ordering said combinations on the Internet. I love your creativity with perennials. The height of the ligularia and castor give real presence to the container display and your fall display is breathtaking

  11. wGardens 01/22/2015

    Lynn, these are absolutely fabulous!! I love them all. You have a gift for combinations- as well as expert care for them. Thanks for sharing! Great 2 days of photos!

  12. ladeedah 01/22/2015

    The fall display is beautiful. You said you got "carried away" but I think sometimes it takes getting carried away to make a worthy show ! My efforts are always entirely too simple to be noteworthy.

  13. user-7006958 01/22/2015

    I loved every single one of your containers! The containers alone are a lot of work to water, fertilize, move to storage etc! and then that lush gorgeous garden! When do you have the time? Thanks for sharing!

    1. satisfaction 01/22/2015

      We use a nursery mix soil which I add about 2/3 cup of slow release fertilizer to a wheelbarrow full of soil. No need to fertilize again that season. I do use additional liquid fertilizer on some annual containers with petunias, etc. I do all the planting, Dick waters most of the containers and I do the cutting back and deadheading. As I commented yesterday, we have lots of help maintaining the gardens.

  14. digginWA 01/22/2015

    I love the way that ligularia leaf works with the heucherella leaf. Thanks for the inspiration. It's time to get to work. I think I'll spend this rainy day at the nursery.

  15. GrannyMay 01/22/2015

    Absolutely stunning, Lynn! There will be an awful lot of heucheras, heucharellas and Castor Bean sold this spring! I already grow a lot of perennials and shrubs in containers, some just until I decide they are large enough to survive in the garden, others because I prefer them that way, but you have reminded me that containers are a good home for plants that need different conditions than your garden can provide - Ligularia and Astilbe will be on my list to try one more time.

    For plants that might be borderline hardy through our winter, I plant them into a regular nursery pot first then insert that pot into a larger decorative container with either soil or peatmoss between the two pots. The roots are restricted to the inner pot and the outer pot and filler act as insulation. This planting method also helps when removing a potbound plant, as you're not trying to pry it out of a decorative container.

    1. satisfaction 01/22/2015

      Yes, I do the same (now). We learned the hard way about trying to pry roots away from the sides of the decorative containers. I use plastic inside many of them. Also, it affords the opportunity to move them to a different container. The Ligularia and Astilbe need plenty of moisture. Toward the middle of the season, the japonica needs 1+ gallons of water a day in a container.

    2. sheila_schultz 01/22/2015

      May, I double pot my larger succulents, too. Their roots are often quite shallow and they are not winter hardy here, so it makes the end of season take down sooooo much easier. I love that technique, and it also is a huge backsaver with the rootbound plants!

  16. greengenes 01/22/2015

    Looks as though you started something, Lynn! Container fever spreads like the measles! These are gorgeous and has opened up a whole new world for me! Liguilarias are what is going in my pots and flower beds this year along with some of those great heucherellas and coleus. I was quite enamored with the first photo and the liguilaria in it. I didn't know that there are so many different kinds. I hope I will be able to find them around here. Thanks for sharing all your fun!

    1. satisfaction 01/23/2015

      The Ligularia 'japonica' is difficult to find now. I bought mine from Shady Oaks in 2001 when they were still retail. There's a new one out that is smaller (japonica 'Chinese Dragon') which Plant Delights offers. You'll just have to come to see me as there could be one with your name on it in the holding bed. The one I used this year will be two that size next year. Ones from the nurseries were too small for a large container the first year.

      1. greengenes 01/23/2015

        Awh..thanks for the offer! I will be right over! I wish....Well I sure will look for them now! There is only 53 days until spring! The weather has been so mild around here. Bulbs are starting to peak out of the soil and trees are buying too. We hope it won't turn cold again now...Thanks so much for sharing these last couple of days..your beautiful gardens...

        1. satisfaction 01/23/2015

          I don't know where you are but here in Wisconsin spring is the end of April if we're lucky.

  17. satisfaction 01/22/2015

    I start the Castor bean seeds in 4" pots the last week in May. Give them lots of sun and when they're about 18" tall or so, I plant them in containers or in the ground.

  18. GrannyCC 01/22/2015

    Wow a wonderful display. You must have tons of energy to manage all your garden. Thanks for sharing your beautiful place and today's inspiring pots. I think I probably have seen Heucherella before but just assumed it was Heuchera. I see it is a cross between coral bells and foam flowers. I have quite a bit of shade so will try it. I love your Fall display along your garage.

  19. sheila_schultz 01/22/2015

    Your combos both in containers and in-ground gardens are stunning, Lynn. Using primarily perennials in your container gardens is really the gift that keeps on giving! I also use a lot of heucheras and heucherellas, they can't be beat except maybe with hostas... so many possibilities to play with. The added bonus with using perennials in containers is the amount of money you save in the long run when you can pop them into your gardens... well at least, that's what I tell my husband ;) And yes, Tim's right, I'm taking notes!

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/22/2015

      I saw this post and it had "Sheila" written all over it. Plant fever is taking over and Lynn is not helping matters. A friend shared this item from the FAQ on the Plant Delights web page:
      "Can you keep my spouse from knowing that I ordered more plants?
      Hmmm. Probably not…that seems a bit beyond our scope of expertise"
      Story of my life......

      1. sheila_schultz 01/22/2015

        It's definitely 'dream time' around here... love the quote! So True!!!

      2. greengenes 01/23/2015

        Oh I so know what you mean! Our grocery money seems to disappear this time of year!

  20. User avater
    HelloFromMD 01/22/2015

    Hi Lynn, I will be looking for the begonia 'Gryphon'. I too collect coleus and am overwintering a boatload this winter for next year's containers and to add color to the shade gardens. I am loving the coleus in the front of the pot next to the pot of Heuchera Cinnamon Curls. Would you please share the name of that coleus? Oh, I'll have to add Cinnamon Curls to my list as well.
    Mt. Cuba has released the third year data in their Heuchera trial. I went through the results yesterday and added Heuchera Steel City to my list, sounds like the foliage is a very unusual color for heucheras, goes from purple to a blue green and has pink flowers. Spellbound is another top pick from the trial, planted two last year and they were beautiful.
    My favorite container has the black elephant ears. I did several containers with colocasia lasst season and overwintering is tough due to spider mites. The other annual I am loving for containers is 'Baby Tut', it is increasing and overwinters easily.
    Got to say I am loving your shade garden!

    1. satisfaction 01/23/2015

      Correction! That is a Rex Begonia 'Purple Snow'! Sorry, I looked at the wrong tag this morning. Gryphon is a lovely begonia as well. I usually use that one alone in containers. I wish I knew the name of the coleus. It is likely one of these: Solar Eclipse, Solar Radiance, or Mocha Mint.

  21. User avater
    HelloFromMD 01/22/2015

    Thanks for making me laugh, Tim. I've got some cash stashed no one knows about for going to my favorite nursery this spring, Groff's Plant Farm, in Pennsylvania. Thanks for the comments on double bloodroot. I get Discus comments in my email and clicked on yours to respond but it takes me right back to the GPOD page. Don't want to clog GPOD. Is there a way to respond, say thanks, without it posting here?

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/23/2015

      That is something that I like about Disqus: the ability to have small discussions and responses, although I do worry about stealing bandwidth away from the gardener's moment in the sun. Please email Michelle Gervais and ask her to forward your email to me and I will reply and you'll have my email. She won't share contact info without express permission, which is great. I could probably just post it, but I'm too ignorant to know if that somehow exposes my email address to automatic spammers....

  22. satisfaction 01/22/2015

    I just remembered I was going to tell you I buy the seeds from "Select Seeds" out of Connecticut. The New Zealand Purple turned out to be gorgeous with purple leaves.

  23. schatzi 01/23/2015

    I am way late today as I did not have a chance to check email before I left the house this morning. I concur with all the comments from my more language-gifted friends! Lynn, are you a professional garden designer or just exceptionally gifted? Your texture and color combinations are outstanding. I too love perennials in containers and in spite of having a large property to garden, have a multitude of containers on and around my deck. And in my house and greenhouse. I get thru our wet, gray winters by filling house and greenhouse with flowers. Orchids, Gesneriads, amaryllis, and the pots of geraniums I over-winter in the greenhouse keep blooming til late winter. Now the stores have pots of my favorite daffodil,
    Tete-a-tete, and mine aren't up yet, so I succumbed and put them in one of the large pots on my deck. Love the variegated vinca with the fountain grass, the tri-colored coleus with Cinnamon Curls, the fall display by the garage, and what DO you feed your black elephant ears?! Gorgeous! Love it all!

    1. satisfaction 01/23/2015

      No, I'm not a professional garden designer. I've just had lots of years of practice and I read a lot of container gardening magazines. With so much shade I have had to focus on foliage texture and color combinations. The elephant ear got the same soil with slow-release fertilizer mixed in. Thanks for all the great comments. I've really enjoyed doing this.

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