Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana, annual) and other cold-hardy flowers arrive at garden centers in April, putting color-starved gardeners in the mood to start arranging their first annual containers. The jewel-like flowers just need a striking companion, the “thriller” in container designs, but options for substantive cool season annuals are few. Thankfully, there’s a solution: a small tree or shrub.
Incorporating small trees and shrubs into container plantings diversifies the options for gardeners seeking low-care, dynamic combinations. A well-selected woody plant eases transitions between seasonal container updates; exchanging spring pansies for summer flowers, adding a flowering kale in fall, and dressing up your container with some winter evergreen boughs is easier and less expensive with a woody plant offering four-season interest at the core of your design.
Here in Wisconsin, we’ve found some super hardy options for woody plants that seem happy to spend their winter outside in a container.…
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