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Containers With Serious Contrast

Balance the light and dark elements in a design to create more visual impact

Fine Gardening - Issue 188

How often do you return home from an expensive assault on the local nursery to find that, ultimately, your container design is disappointing for reasons you cannot quite explain? Creating a pleasing arrangement of plants in a container can be a challenge. You set out to create a thing of blended beauty and find that you have merely a collection of plants. In two decades of helping clients put together container combinations, I’ve finally distilled all of my advice for creating visual interest into this simple mantra: more contrast!

Contrast is the arrangement of opposite elements in design to create visual interest, excitement, and drama. Harnessing the power of contrast is as simple as making sure each plant has different characteristics from its neighbors, so that each plant complements the others while remaining distinct. When plant partners are too similar, the uniqueness of each plant is lost, and so…

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