Pick a Color, Any Color

Focusing on a single hue results in a stunning, cohesive design

Fine Gardening - Issue 157
Spineless Hedgehog™ aloe, Retro Succulents® Carmine™ aloe, Tree aeonium, mistletoe cactus, Cochineal nopal cactus, QIS Orange gomphrena, feather grass and Acapulco Orange hyssop in a brown container

Last spring, we challenged our readers to design a container that featured a single color. Whether you have a passion for purple, a yen for yellow, or an obsession for orange, we wanted to see how you celebrated your chosen color in a monochromatic container design. The results are in. And yet again, we’re astounded by the talent and vision of our readers. Congratulations to our winner and finalists!

The Winner

The softer side of orange (photo above)

This is the third time Sheila has won our challenge, and there seems to be no end to her talent and imagination. While she chose orange as her color, she went for subtlety rather than flash, leaning toward peach tones. We love the peach tips of the aloe, how the hyssop and gomphrena echo the aloe’s tones, and how Sheila chose a container that makes the entire composition harmonious. Bravo!

  1. Spineless Hedgehog aloe (Aloe × humilis ‘Andhogp’, USDA Hardiness Zones 9–11)
  2. Retro Succulents® Carmine aloe (Aloe ‘Carmine’, Zones 9–11)
  3. Tree aeonium (Aeonium cv., Zones 9–11)
  4. Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera, Zones 10–11)
  5. Cochineal nopal cactus (Opuntia cochenillifera, Zones 9–10)
  6. QIS Orange gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana ‘Orange’, annual)
  7. Feather grass (Nassella tenuissima, Zones 7–11)
  8. Acapulco Orange hyssop (Agastache ‘Acapulco Orange’, Zones 6–10)

Designed by Sheila Schultz, Denver, Colorado


The Finalists

White lights up the shade

White mandevilla, Variegated Algerian ivy, 'White Blizzard’ ivy geranium and ‘Hip Hop’ euphorbia against a dark painted shed

Cindy has a shady yard, and white was just the ticket for brightening things up and creating a focal point against a dark-painted shed. The tuteur adds height and support for the lavish blooms of the mandevilla. The Algerian ivy and geranium ground the container, keeping it from becoming top-heavy.

  1. White mandevilla (Mandevilla cv., Zone 11)
  2. Variegated Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis cv., Zones 6–11)
  3. ‘White Blizzard’ ivy geranium (Pelargonium ‘White Blizzard’, annual)
  4. ‘Hip Hop’ euphorbia (Euphorbia ‘Hip Hop’, Zones 10–11)

Designed by Cindy Young, Brewster, New York


Red-orange turns up the heat

Canna, bamboo, coleus, Blue chalk sticks, Sweet potato vines, barberry, Japanese blood grass and Tropical hibiscus in a red orange plant container

There’s no mistaking what color inspires Nathan. His large unabashedly red-orange container is the perfect canvas for a spicy variety of plants that celebrate this invigorating hue. Nathan’s mix of textures is intriguing, and the range of red-oranges—from pale to deep—is exciting.

  1. Canna (Canna cv., Zones 8–11)
  2. Bamboo (Fargesia rufa, Zones 6–9)
  3. Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides cvs., Zones 12–13)
  4. Blue chalk sticks (Senecio serpens, Zone 11)
  5. Sweet potato vines (Ipomoea batatas cvs., Zone 11)
  6. Barberry (Berberis thunbergii* cv., Zones 5–8)
  7. Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica* ‘Rubra’, Zones 5–9)
  8. Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus cv., Zone 11)

Designed by Nathan Brown, Reno, Nevada


Pink is lush and cheerful

‘Limon’ jewels of Opar, Supertunia® Sangria Charm petunia, ‘Graziosa Royal Lilac’ geranium, ‘Fireworks’ fountain grass and Pink baby’s breath in a dark plant container

Margaret celebrated pink with a mix of old standards, like petunia and geranium, with some exciting surprises, like a lemony jewels of Opar and a jazzy ‘Fireworks’ fountain grass. A froth of pink baby’s breath is the frosting on this floral cake.

  1. ‘Limon’ jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum ‘Limon’, annual)
  2. Supertunia® Sangria Charm petunia (Petunia ‘USTUN34803’, annual)
  3. ‘Graziosa Royal Lilac’ geranium (Pelargonium ‘Graziosa Royal Lilac’, annual)
  4. ‘Fireworks’ fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum* ‘Fireworks’, Zones 8–11)
  5. Pink baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata* cv., Zones 5–9)

Designed by Margaret Hebblethwaite, Liverpool, New York


Purple can be dark and sultry

‘Mona Lavender’ plectranthus, 'Purple Flash' ornamental pepper, Purple Heart, Whirlwind® Blue fan flower, ‘Plum Delight’ loropetalum and Echeveria in a dark purple plant container

Chris chose to celebrate the darker side of purple: with dusky purple and almost-black foliage with slightly brighter flowers, which keep the foliage from fading into the shadows. Even her terra-cotta container has dark purple tones. The result is subtle, sophisticated, and rich.

  1. ‘Mona Lavender’ plectranthus (Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’, Zones 10–11)
  2. ‘Purple Flash’ ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum ‘Purple Flash’, annual)
  3. Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’, Zones 8–11)
  4. Whirlwind® Blue fan flower (Scaevola ‘Scablhatis’, annual)
  5. ‘Plum Delight’ loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense ‘Plum Delight’, Zones 8–9)
  6. Echeveria (Echeveria cv., Zones 10–11)

Designed by Chris Culler, Venice, California

Michelle Gervais is a senior editor and the editor of the Garden Photo of the Day blog at

Photos:  courtesy of Marge Hebblethwaite; Cindy Young; Nathan Brown; Chris Culler and Sheila Schultz.

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