Garden Photo of the Day

Creating High-Drama Container Designs

This gardener uses her design skills and a few cool tricks to make eye-catching container plantings

Today’s photos come from Laurel Prothro.

The project started with accumulating volunteer hours for my Master Gardener certificate, I started and completed the wonderful course early this year with the UT Extension Williamson County Master Gardener program. I am a jewelry designer by trade, so the landscape design comes easy. All the pictures are from one amazing location: Arrington Vineyards in Arrington, Tennessee. This incredible vineyard opened in 2007. The gorgeous hardscape was installed in 2007, and I do all the container designing.



One of Laurel’s container designs, mixing annuals and perennials and building height with multiple layers of planting.

Another incredible container. I love the drama she’s created by placing the hosta as an elevated centerpiece in the design. Another idea I’m stealing: combining perennials such as hostas with the annuals in a mixed container.

Another view of the container, where you can see how she creates the height, with the hosta in a second container over the lower half-barrel.

Another dramatic container. No flowers are involved, but who needs them with that incredible foliage? Do your containers need some rehab? Read this for helpful container management tips.

When you do container design for a winery, you use what you have! Here, corks form an unusual and very cool mulch in the container. It would be great to recreate this at home, though you might need to host quite a few parties to accumulate enough corks to do it on any sort of a large scale.

And here, another piece of the winery is put to work in the landscape. Jack Daniels whiskey barrels have become privacy screens for a new seating area. The barrels were retired after being used to age the vineyard’s all-Tennessee grape vintage wine.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/23/2018

    Aren't they pretty? Love how creative they are. Thanks for sharing.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/23/2018

    You do an awesome job, Laurel, and it sounds like you love doing it. Since I'm a fellow Tennesseean (outside of Knoxville), I was curious where Arrington Vineyards was located (over near Nashville). I was additionally curious because of seeing hosta used so effectively in what seems to be a plentiful sunshine situation. Do they stay fresh and healthy looking because you water, water, and water some more or have you found a particularly plucky and heroic variety that can deal with the south eastern sunshine?

    1. [email protected] 08/23/2018

      Wish I could see if Laurel replies to your question, Michaele. Would love to know of a sunshine-tolerant hosta!

  3. darylsavage 08/23/2018

    The vineyard is a Master Gardener project in Tennessee? Here in NJ MG projects for volunteer hours are all public gardens. I really don't like this new format where Fine Gardening comments on the photos instead of the gardener submitting the photos.

    1. Meelianthus 08/23/2018

      I totally agree with you 'darylsavage' and it is a mystery to me why Fine Gardening/GPOD hasn't figured out why participation in this previously great posting site has dwindled to almost nil. It really lost all of it's fun and charm quite some time ago which is too bad.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 08/23/2018

        It is sad, isn't it, Linda...and, a good example of the previous sense of camaraderie that gpod once had is the fact that I know your name other than your avatar name. We gpod-ers enjoyed our exchanges back and forth and paid extra attention to the photo sharings of regular commenters.

        1. CTpat 08/23/2018

          I agree completely. I'm also somewhat bemused at the lack of replies to the comments and questions by the person whose garden is on display. Does s/he not get notified of the date his or her garden is featured? I've seldom commented at any point, but I used to really enjoy reading all the back and forth. Now, well . . .

          1. btucker9675 08/23/2018

            I agree as well - it was much nicer when it was like an actual conversation!

        2. Meelianthus 08/24/2018

          Michaele you have been an ever-faithful GPOD responder and they are so privileged to have your wonderful comments. I occasionally check the site but it seems to have turned into a tutorial rather than a visit with the featured gardener. Maybe someone will get a clue.

  4. [email protected] 08/23/2018

    I agree with all of you folks- I love the GPOD, but can't understand why the questions we have aren't answered by the person submitting on the forum. How is this an improvement?

    1. User avater
      CAlexander 08/24/2018

      We are thinking the same thing! I have to reach out to Joseph and make sure he lets people know people have questions for the gardeners. Will report back! : ) Thanks for keeping the conversation going, Christine (FG Web)

  5. darylsavage 08/23/2018

    They should bring back Michelle from Newtown. She rocked this site for us.

    1. User avater
      CAlexander 08/24/2018

      Totally agree! I’ll let her know you said so!

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