Garden Photo of the Day

Revisiting Sheila’s garden in Colorado, Day 2–Containers!

Welcome to day 2 of Sheila’s garden in Colorado! Today she says, “As much as I love my gardens, container gardening is my true passion. My container gardening style is freeform, as is my in-ground gardening style. I’m not very good at following rules.

I’ve also become rather obsessed with succulents and cacti since we moved to Denver, so many of the containers I design have one or the other as an element. There are very few plants in my opinion that can provide the drama of an agave or a yucca. I’ve also learned that some succulents can tolerate more water than others so they often get paired with foliage plants that bring in needed color.

It’s fun for me to see an agave playing well with heucheras, coleus, and sweet potato vines all in the same pot. You’ll probably notice that I use very few flowers in my containers, I’ve found that if you have enough textural differences in the leaf shapes with pops of color from the foliage, flowers aren’t aways needed to bring interest. It certainly cuts down on everyday maintenance.”

Your containers are truly inspired works of art, Sheila. Thanks so much for sharing them with us!

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  1. perenniallycrazy 09/30/2014

    Amazingly beautiful works of art! The flow of your garden is wonderful. It must be so enjoyable to be surrounded by all this in your seating area. I hope you've had time to do that this summer.
    The specimens in the third photo and the last photo peak my interest. Could you please the share of names of plants?

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      In my dreams I could share all the names of my beauties dear friend. I used to be so meticulous in list taking and tag saving, but as I age not so much anymore. So many of the succulents and cacti I bring home have no tags which I'm comfortable with since I now look for the visual impact of the combos. As in my gardens, I go for shapes, textures and colors that will catch my eye and make me feel comfortable. I few years ago I would have been embarrassed to say that, but not now. In thinking about it... it's the visual comfort that drives my passion.

      1. perenniallycrazy 10/01/2014

        I totally understand.

        BTW, I'm crazy about the ladies especially the one with the dichondra hair. What kind of succulent is beside it?

        1. azulverde 10/01/2014

          Sheila, if I have to make a succulent container, I'll have to use yours as a reference. My favorite is the gray lady with just the slight lean of her head towards the flowing dichondra tresses. I think the succulent next to it belongs to the Haworthia genus.

          1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

            Thanks Azulverde... I'm so pleased you are enjoying my containers! The succulent does resemble a Haworthia from a distance but the leaves are actually very plump... even thicker than an aloe.

        2. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

          Good Morning Cherry... I believe the succulent in the gray lady's hairdo is a Gasteria hybrid. It came without a tag and at first I thought it an aloe hybrid, but I'm pretty sure it is a variety of Gasteria. BTW, dicondra overwinters nicely inside! This is the 2nd year she has had these curly locks!

          1. perenniallycrazy 10/01/2014

            I am really loving the combo. I've not seen any gasteria in my neck of the woods so I'll just have to enjoy vicariously.

        3. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

          PS The green lady is new, I found her when we were in IL for a wedding. She was so cheap I just HAD to bring her home ... in my carry-on!

          I'm not sure if I like her Barrel Cactus bun, I just happened to have an extra one laying around. What do you think? Ideas for a 'new do' next season?

          1. perenniallycrazy 10/01/2014

            I think we all enjoy changing up the containers any season. Whatever 'do' you design for her, I'm sure it will be fabulous. Reminds me I gotta do mine too! =)

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/01/2014

    OH...MY...GOODNESS...Sheila, I enlarged each and every picture in a separate window and just poured over them. I probably look like a neurotic monkey as I click from one to another and scroll and wish that my laptop had a touch screen so I could make things even larger and poke my nose into crevices and corners. As lovely and comfortable looking as your seating area appears, I'm not sure I could sit. If I were there in person I would want to stroll (instead of cyber scroll) and gaze and touch. You, dear lady, are a genius with containers! I adore your serene dark gray lady with her lighter bluish gray tresses that tumble down the side of her face.
    Now...I believe I remember you sharing on facebook that you bring many of your beauties not only inside but upstairs. How do you decide who gets to winter in warmth?

    1. NCYarden 10/01/2014

      Good morning meander. So true - I just asked to have seat on that welcoming patio, but just like you, I probably couldn't stay seated. Heck I can't even sit down it my own garden. Christine is constantly charging me with the inability to just sit and relax. Whenever we're on our patio, she always says, "I knew you couldn't just sit there," as I get up after just a few minutes. I'm getting better, but it's true; I can't help but get up and go be in the garden, which really is my way of relaxing. Great comment.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 10/01/2014

        Ha, David, sounds like we sing the same song...gotta' keep moving and doing! Of course, one of the pleasures of gardening is creating charming seating areas but I think the sly motivation there is that then the hardscape needs to have plants added to soften the edges. I just mentally counted up 13 seating "opportunities" in my garden and but seeing that number "13" which is associated with bad luck makes me think I either better add one more or take on away...tee hee, guess which option I will probably go with.

        1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

          You are such a sly gardener, my friend! Do you think Darwin has caught on to your tricks yet?

      2. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

        Meander and David... I didn't know it was possible to sit and relax. Do people really do that??? Hmmmmm.....
        Your new seating area is perfect, Michaele. Did you match the color of the chair cushion with the birdhouse or visa-versa?

      3. User avater
        meander_michaele 10/01/2014

        Nowadays, there is actually one place I sit a bit every day because it's where I plop to feed the new fish we were recently asked to adopt from someone who was closing their pond. Earlier in the spring, we had done a redo of the landscaping where the chair is placed and , as serendipity sometimes allows to happen, it was perfect timing. Prior to our redo, most of the handsome rocks on the chair side of the pond were obscured by large clumps of pampas grass.

        1. terieLR 10/02/2014

          Love the redo Michaele. Lucky for the fish to have you watching over them.

          1. User avater
            meander_michaele 10/02/2014

            Why, thanks, Terri, I have to admit that it surprised me how much I enjoyed getting rid of the pampas grass...well, not the actual process of removal...those large, overly robust clumps fought my husband and I tooth and nail but we celebrated when the last one was gone!

    2. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      My dearest Michaele, what would GPOD do without your caring and always thoughtful words. You are such a gift to all of us. Thank you.

      When it comes down to what I overwinter in our 'Little Shop of Horrors' otherwise known as the winter nursery, it's basically all of my succulents and cacti with an occasional tropical thrown in if I have the room. This year most plants are in gal. plastic pots with several 3 and 5 gal. pots thrown into the mix. The succulents and cacti that are in combination with annuals, etc., in my large containers are brought in individually. The ceramic containers that are filled with only succulents or cacti come in as they are. I do a tiny bit of propagating in the winter, but mainly with pencil cactus and Kalalchoes. The good news is that most of our neighbors know what I do, those that have just moved in this summer probably think I'm growing pot with all the bright lights blazing for hours on end ;) We are in Denver you know!

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 10/01/2014

        Ahh, Sheila, you are always so generous in expressing your appreciation for what you see as other people's positives. I thank you for your kind words and also for your willingness to share your amazing talents. Ha, yes, this will be a gpod tucked away by many as one to refer to next spring when it's pot filling time again.
        If I lived in your neighborhood , you might eventually have to take out a restraining order against me for my habit of repeatedly popping in and scoping out your stuff!

        1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

          I would relish the help... Oh, you mean you just wanted to check things out? My mistake ;) I can't imagine anything better than having you as a neighbor and having another pair of eyes to help me work thru the inevitable devil pots!

  3. GrannyMay 10/01/2014

    I'm speechless! Well, almost. Like meander, I had to enlarge each photo and study it in detail. I was trying to understand, not for the first time, what makes something special, what qualities or characteristics draw me in. I still don't know. I do know that I love all your containers, and your arrangement of them, and your garden! What a pleasure, Sheila!

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Awe Granny May, you make my heart sing. Containers really are my passion. Sometimes they go together very quickly, other times it's like pulling teeth... then I realize that there is an element that is just not working and I have to walk away for awhile so I can look at it later with fresh eyes. What it boils down to is finding that special plant to build around.

  4. user-502694 10/01/2014

    Just spectacular! Wondering though what you do with all those plants in the winter?

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Thanks Wendy... one of these days I should post photos of 'the nursery'. I don't have space for a greenhouse, so my understanding husband and wonderful son-in-law carry most of the succulents upstairs for the winter. Two bedrooms are converted to hold the plants for 5 to 6 months. We add a fan, turn the heat down to 50 and add extra lighting that is on a timer for 12 hours a day. It's quite the production but worth the savings. The really big plants stay on the first floor in front of a large window. The good thing is that many of my succulents go dormant during the winter so it's easier on them, but they are all desperate to get outside come May! It's quite the production.

  5. user-1020932 10/01/2014

    spectacularfull as i knew it would be. your containers never disappoint. i'm especially jealous of the millet as mine NEVER is that husky.

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Funny you should mention the millet. It was a replacement for my tomato plant that picked up a blight and had to be replaced mid-season. I really never use millet because it always disappoints, but it was the only plant I could find that was in a gal. container, was very full and had a burgundy color! I got lucky ;)

  6. user-1020932 10/01/2014

    also that bowl with the 3 cryptanthus is "dreamy" :) had to post again as Disqus cut me off, is that a sign that i should shut up?

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      I really was pleased with that pot, I'm glad you like it too. It was for a client that wanted a tabletop piece filled with succulents to use as a centerpiece for her parent's 50th anniversary party. She also asked for 'lots' of color! That was the big challenge... then we found the cryptanthus, whew! The other challenge was finding a low container that would make a statement for the party. This piece is a ceramic bowl we found at Crate and Barrel. It obviously didn't have a drain hole, so we needed to use very lightweight soil on top of perlite for drainage. I still love the way the hot pink creates so much drama!

    2. Nurserynotnordstroms 10/01/2014

      Discus cut me off this morning? too. I had more to say

    3. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Jeff... If you shut up all the fun would be gone! That's not allowed ;)

  7. Jaynespaulding 10/01/2014

    What a beautiful way to start my day, oooing and awwwing over your creations! The heads made me laugh, especially the posing lady with her flowing tresses. I bet it's fun to put these together every year! They are each works of art, and so beautifully placed together too. You have an expert sense of color!

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Thank you so much Jane, your comments mean the world to me.

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 10/01/2014

    Wow, Sheila! Not enough words or time. Perfection. My favorites at the moment: the three agaves in the gun-metal grey container with the euphorbia (?) that looks like a Chinese scholar stone, and the container with the brilliant cryptanthus. So many plants, so little time!

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Thanks Tim! That's a great container isn't it? I love the shape. As a matter of fact, it was my prize from FG for my 2nd Container Design Challenge!!! It's one of Todd Holloway's designs out of Vancouver. He makes the coolest pots if you like contemporary designs, and he is also a gifted designer. This particular piece came from his first run... he's now eliminated some of the large lettering ;) (Todd was featured in the FG Container Gardening magazine a couple of years ago.)

  9. NCYarden 10/01/2014

    Oh wow, you really do have a knack for containers. Well done. Like plant bombs laid all around...WARNING! GORGEOUS EXPLOSIONS LIKELY! No, inevitable. I'm digging that wall-mounted container(s) and it's cascading elements. But all the succulents are fantastic. I totally agree with you that there is plenty of texture and color without blooms, not to mention long lasting appeal, perpetual even, unlike most blooms. Do you mind if I come have seat on your beautiful patio, and wear my neck out?

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Hey NC... come on over next summer and bring Christine and the GPOD gang with you ;) Party on the Patio!!!

      Glad you like the vertical piece on the wall. This is the first year I have used them in the back, but I've had a set of 3 in the front for several years now. They are a very cool product called Woolly Pockets and they come in assorted colors and lengths. They are made from recycled plastic and come in indoor and outdoor versions. I have had 2 installed in my kitchen for the last 4 or 5 years now without a trace of dampness or mildew. The outdoor versions don't have as much protection. The design possibilities are huge. I really am crazy about them, especially for those annoying blank vertical spaces where a trellis may not be the look you are envisioning. Some nurseries carry them, but they are easily ordered on line. Amazon often has the best deals.

  10. Nurserynotnordstroms 10/01/2014

    Ummm can't pick my favorite photo. Your pots are all amazing,varigated Hoya,string of pearls great additions to all of yor lovelys. Expanding on my I Pad is definetly a plus when looking at garden photos. I need to move so many plants into the garage it's a lot of work but worth it when you get to bring them back out in the Spring. You really know how to take advantage of your zone and what you can grow. I am going to have more coffee and look again. It was a great start to my morning thank you for sharing your beautiful pot combinations.

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Nnn... I feel your pain for the great migration of your plants this time of year. It's such a chore, but come the next spring it is always worth the effort, both for the mature plants and the pocketbook!

      Do you have a 'Potlifter' for your larger containers? If not get one today!!! It is the best tool known to gardeners when it comes to moving pots. It's a strap gizmo that goes around the pot with handles on 2 sides. It can expand to go around a pot up to 36" in dia., I think, and it can lift up to 300 lbs. It's around $30 and is available at a lot of nurseries or online. It's truly a backsaver!!!

      1. NCYarden 10/01/2014

        Yes, the Pot Lifter is a life (and back) saver. One of the best purchases ever made.

        1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

          You betcha!!! It's sooo much cheaper than a visit to the chiropractor!

          1. User avater
            meander_michaele 10/01/2014

            You got a smile out of me, Sheila, with your phrasing of "it can lift up to 300 pounds"...if only that were so literally true that it could do it all by itself! I'd be standing around giving my potlifter orders to move this pot here and that pot over there and, oh, by the way, it's mid Oct. so carry them all into the corner of the garage. Then again, hubby Darwin probably already feels like I do that.

          2. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

            Woops! If only dreams could come true ;) sigh.

      2. Nurserynotnordstroms 10/01/2014

        Yes Sheila we do have a pot lifter and you are right we have moved giant pots full with dirt plants and all,it really saves the back(but there are a lot of other chores in gardening that are so hard on the back)hummmmm... now I just need to find the best places to put them so we won't need to move them around twice in the garage.

      3. MichelleGervais 10/01/2014

        I have a Potlifter, too, and we use it for tons of other things, too! We love it.

  11. GrannyCC 10/01/2014

    Wow I love them all Sheila!!! No wonder you have won the container prize several times. What an inspiration that you don't have to have flowers to make up a container and have it look gorgeous. My friend May has a talent for that. I really like the Gray Ladies.Where do you put your succulents in the winter? Here on Vancouver I
    sland some can winter over and others go in my greenhouse which is heated to just above freezing.

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Oh GrannyCC, you just had to tell me that you actually have a greenhouse didn't you??? In this house, we all have greenhouse envy! Lucky, lucky you ;)

    2. Nurserynotnordstroms 10/01/2014

      I have been trying to find a great location for a green house,not sure if we can ever squeeze one in. I'm so happy you have one. Do you mostly store your plants ,start new startings,propagate or all of the above. Fine Gardening should do an article on greenhouses from small to big and how to utilize them in the best way.

      1. GrannyCC 10/02/2014

        I use my greenhouse for storage over the winter of plants such as geraniums , begonia tubers and any succulents that won't survive our wet weather. I then plant my seeds in there in the Spring. I keep the heat on just above freezing in the winter. It is a great place to have.

    3. GrannyCC 10/02/2014

      It would be fun to have an article on greenhouses.

  12. schatzi 10/01/2014

    Oh my. Your containers blow me away. especially #7 and 9 - spectacular! You really have an artist's eye. The wall garden was a surprise, and very effective and attractive. Your learning curve must have been vertical after moving to this very different climate from what you were used to. I love all the succulents and colors and textures. The fall move-in must be a real challenge, but so worth it. As gorgeous as it all is, I have to say the last photo is my favorite - all my favorite colors in one pot. Yum! If I can find the specimens, I may have to copy that one. Thank you for sharing so much beauty.

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Thanks so much Shirley. Going vertical is a really fun option for certain spaces. It's worked well for me... especially since I've never been fond of the color of our brick. I love that I now see plants as opposed to a blank and boring wall.

      I'm pleased that you like the last photo, I really was happy how everything came together for that pot, it still makes me smile. Like I told Jeff, the pot came from Crate and Barrel, just remember to be very careful to use a soil mixture that is light since the walls of the pot are on the thin side and there is no drain hole. If I remember correctly... most of the plants came from Lowe's and Home Depot! Remember to cram those little succulents tightly together!

  13. Meelianthus 10/01/2014

    Can I come over!! I would love to just spend the day on your lovely patio gazing forever at all of your beautiful potted plants. You definitely have a 'green' pot-thumb. They are just wonderful Sheila, thanks for sharing your amazing creativity.

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Hey Meelianthus and the rest of my GPOD friends... our doors are always open for friends! If any of you are ever in Denver between mid-June and the beginning of September, come on over the containers will hopefully be planted! Contact Michelle for my E-mail address and we'll make plans! Party on the Patio ;)

  14. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

    Michelle... I appreciate your kind words more than you know, they mean the world to me. I am also blown away with this amazing gardening community you have created. GPOD is such a gift. To be able to see and hear about the passions of so many talented gardeners is such an inspiration... and to have so many gardeners to chat and chat and chat with is incredible. My husband's eyes no longer have to glaze over when I chatter on and on about my gardens or containers! He is so very grateful to all of you ;) as am I!

    1. MichelleGervais 10/01/2014

      Thanks, Sheila!!

    2. Meelianthus 10/01/2014

      Sheila, I did get a good chuckle out of your last sentence as I know that 'look' all to well. My husband is great with the muscle - but the plants, he always brings his computer if we go off to a nursery somewhere . Gotta love those guys!

  15. schatzi 10/01/2014

    Thank you for your reply and planting and shopping hints. You truly are an inspiration.

    1. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

      Hey... what are friends for?

  16. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

    For those of you that like the gray head pot... she was a present from my son. He ordered it from They have some awesome 'potheads' as Jeff would say!

  17. terieLR 10/02/2014

    Hi Sheila! I have just spent my goodnight reading time on your page. ;) What a joy to study your genius combinations and the perfect placement of each and every one. Thank you for taking the time to share ideas and humor with so many GPODers today. All my best!

  18. user-7007140 10/04/2014

    I am playing catch up with GPOD and what a treat I have found! Firstly, Jeff's containers,Sheila's garden and containers, then the incredible treat of reading everyone's posts. Thank you for making the close to my day so very special. And to you, Michelle, who cast your net so cleverly and ensnared us all, my biggest thanks of all.
    One day I will feel my garden pics are good enough to share, but meanwhile there is the joy of learning from you all and feeling I am part of a very special Gardening Club.
    Thank you so much.

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