Planting Plan for a Dynamic Four-Season Woodland Container Design

An elegant, simple rectangular container made of resin elevates this design.

spring container with pastel colored plants

Spring Container Design

Pastel colors pop in the understory of this four-season woodland container design

An elegant, simple rectangular container made of resin elevates this design. The soft green foliage of a weeping larch balances the width of the container by cascading over an evergreen ‘Silver Run’ leucothoe, which is changing slowly from its winter burgundy hue back to its light-green-and-white summer variegation. Peeping through the leaves of the leucothoe are the downward-facing delicate flowers of ‘Little Lanterns’ columbine and the bell-like blooms of ‘Rote Glocke’ pasque flower. And it wouldn’t be spring without the pastel shades offered by a yellow-flowered late tulip, chartreuse ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass, and pale lavender ‘Betty’ moss phlox. Its purple flowers are echoed by the multitoned ‘Mountain Lady’ grape hyacinth.

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Centerpiece woody:

1. Weeping larch (Larix decidua ‘Pendula’, Zones 2–8)

2. ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Zones 5–9)

3. ‘Martha Herman’ Scotch heather (Calluna vulgaris ‘Martha Herman’, Zones 4–9)

4. ‘Mountain Lady’ grape hyacinth (Muscari ‘Mountain Lady’, Zones 3–8)

5. ‘Betty’ moss phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Betty’, Zones 3–9)

6. Late tulip (Tulipa tarda, Zones 3–9)

7. ‘Little Lanterns’ columbine (Aquilegia canadensis ‘Little Lanterns’, Zones 3–8)

8. ‘Rote Glocke’ pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Rote Glocke’ syn. ‘Red Clock’, Zones 4–8)

9.‘Silver Run’ leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Silver Run’, Zones 5–8)



Warmer weather calls for some hot hues

summer container with bright red and white flowers

A color scheme of green, red, white, and a touch of yellow creates a summer splash. The bright flowers of ‘Snow Fairy’ balloon flower and Summer Wave® Bouquet White wishbone flower draw the eye immediately. The joyously red begonia cascades over the side of the container and mingles with the other plants. ‘Marrakesh’ coleus gives balance to the other side of the container and pulls the different colors together in its red-and-light-yellow foliage.

– Removed: These spring plants start to lose their luster by the time summer rolls around.

  • ‘Mountain Lady’ grape hyacinth
  • ‘Betty’ moss phlox
  • late tulip
  • ‘Little Lanterns’ columbine
  • and ‘Rote Glocke’ pasque flower


✓ Kept: The interesting foliage of these plants demanded they be kept.

  1. Weeping larch
  2. ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass
  3. ‘Martha Herman’ Scotch heather
  4. ‘Silver Run’ leucothoe



+ Added:

5. ‘Obsidian’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Obsidian’, Zones 4–9)

6. ‘Marrakesh’ coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides ‘Marrakesh’, Zones 10–11)

7. ‘Snow Fairy’ balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Snow Fairy’, Zones 3–8)

8. Illumination® Scarlet begonia (Begonia cv., Zones 9–11)

9. Hiller™ Sunburst lysimachia (Lysimachia christinae ‘Hillyssun’, Zones 7–11)

10. Summer Wave® Bouquet White wishbone flower (Torenia cv., annual)



Fiery foliage is offset by dainty flowers

fall container with colorful foliage and flowers

You won’t have to travel to Vermont for fall color with this container around. As the deciduous weeping larch turns golden, a native bluestar echoes the change with bright yellow-orange foliage. ‘True Blue’ gentian has darker leaves, which are offset by its dark blue flowers. ‘Karmina’ geranium and ‘Brilliance’ autumn fern are just beginning to turn red, extending the show. When we think of fall, our native wildflowers shine. ‘Snow Flurry’ heath aster is covered with star-shaped blooms. ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass and ‘Everillo’ sedge add that grassy texture that screams autumn.

– RemovedThese annuals don’t stand up to the fall chill and were removed to make way for more seasonal players. The faded Scotch heather was also swapped out for a sedge.

  • ‘Martha Herman’ Scotch heather
  • ‘Marrakesh’ coleus
  • ‘Snow Fairy’ balloon flower
  • Illumination® Scarlet begonia
  • Hiller™ Sunburst lysimachia
  • and Summer Wave® Bouquet White wishbone flower
✓ Kept: If anything, these plants with striking foliage look even better in fall.

  1. Weeping larch
  2. ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass
  3. ‘Obsidian’ heuchera
  4. ‘Silver Run’ leucothoe



+ Added:

5. ‘Everillo’ sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’, Zones 5–9)

6. ‘Matrona’ sedum (Hylotelephium telephium ‘Matrona’, Zones 3–9)

7. ‘True Blue’ gentian (Gentiana ‘True Blue’, Zones 4–7)

8. ‘Karmina’ geranium (Geranium × cantabrigiense ‘Karmina’, Zones 5–8)

9. ‘Brilliance’ autumn fern

10. Willow leaf bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana var. salicifolia, Zones 3–9)

11. ‘Snow Flurry’ heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’, Zones 3–9)



Bright evergreen foliage puts texture on display

winter container with bright evergreen foliage

Not every container needs an evergreen as the anchor. By now the weeping larch is bare, but its twisting and curling stems are still putting on a show. Below, ‘Silver Run’ leucothoe has switched back to burgundy. Small conifers of various colors and textures fill the container with festive greens. Yellow ‘Skylands’ Oriental spruce and ‘Everillo’ sedge contrast with ‘Blue Star’ singleseed juniper. Above the scene, cuttings of redtwig dogwood and winterberry make merry.

– Removed: These plants were taken out to make way for some sturdier and more seasonal conifers.

  • ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass
  • ‘Obsidian’ heuchera
  • ‘Matrona’ sedum
  • ‘True Blue’ gentian
  • ‘Karmina’ geranium
  • ‘Brilliance’ autumn fern
  • Willow leaf bluestar
  • and ‘Snow Flurry’ heath aster
✓ Kept: The weeping larch and sedge will retain their shape over winter, while the leucothoe shows its best foliage color late in the season.

  1. Weeping larch
  2. ‘Everillo’ sedge
  3. ‘Silver Run’ leucothoe



+ Added:

4. Limber pine branches (Pinus flexilis, Zones 4–7)

5. Boxwood

6. Winterberry branches (Ilex verticillata, Zones 3–9)

7. ‘Skylands’ Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’, Zones 4–7)

8. Japanese cedar branches

9. ‘Blue Star’ singleseed juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’, Zones 4–8)

10. Redtwig dogwood branches (Cornus sericea, Zones 3–7)

11. ‘Berkshire’ juniper (Juniperus communis ‘Berkshire’, Zones 3–8)


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