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2012 Container Design Challenge Results: Fantastic Foliage

You won't miss the flowers in these designs that feature the stunning variety of leaves

foliage container design

Last spring, we decided to revisit one of our most popular themes and challenged you to create a spectacular container that relies on foliage alone—no flowers allowed. The rules were to select three to five distinct varieties of plants and pot them up to showcase what colorful foliage and exciting texture could do on their own without the benefit of blooms. The results are in, and we couldn’t be more excited by what you created. Enjoy!

The Winner

container with white and bright foliage

Moira McQuarrie, Hanson, Massachusetts

  1. Dragon’s eye black pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Oculus Draconis’, USDA Hardiness Zones 5–8)
  2. ‘Dipt in Wine’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Dipt in Wine’, Zones 12–13)
  3. Porcupine grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’, Zones 4–9)

Congratulations, Moira!

You’ve won a $250 gift certificate from Garden Artisans and a $250 Visa gift card from Tropicanna cannas.

Heather Sazama Geiser, Charlotte, North Carolina

container with light and dark foliage plants
Photo: Heather Sazama Geiser
  1. Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus ‘Gigante’, Zones 7–9)
  2. ‘Lana’ angelwing begonia (Begonia ‘Lana’, Zones 10–11)
  3. ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’, Zone 11)
  4. ‘Baroque Sword’ elephant’s ear (Alocasia lauterbachiana ‘Baroque Sword’, Zone 11)
  5. ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra (Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’, Zones 10–11)


Judy Dean, Centralia, Washington

Photo: Judy Dean
  1. ‘Green Spice’ heuchera (Heuchera ‘Green Spice, Zones 4–9)
  2. ‘Brise d’Anjou’ variegated Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium ‘Brise d’Anjou’, Zones 4–8)
  3. ‘Mosaik Thin Mint’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Mosaik Thin Mint’, Zones 12–13)
  4. Golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, Zones 4–8)
  5. ‘Atropurpureum’ white clover (Trifolium repens ‘Atropurpureum’, Zones 4–8)


Pam Watkins, Independence, Kansas

container with bright green and pink foliage
Photo: Pam Watkins
  1. ‘Ace of Spade’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Ace of Spades’, Zone 11)
  2. ‘Wabashi Lime’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Wabashi Lime’, Zones 12–13)
  3. ‘Mrs. Arno Nehrling’ caladium (Caladium bicolor ‘Mrs. Arno Nehrling’, Zones 10–11)
  4. ‘Red Flash’ caladium (Caladium bicolor ‘Red Flash’, Zones 10–11)
  5. ‘Coffee Cups’ elephant’s ear (Colocasia esculenta ‘Coffee Cups’, Zones 8–11)


Ellen Mann, Fox Point, Wisconsin

container with dark colored foliage
Photo: Ellen Mann
  1. Elephant’s ear (Colocasia esculenta cv., Zones 8–11)
  2. Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides cvs., Zones 12–13)
  3. Golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, Zones 4–8)
  4. Rex begonia (Begonia cv., Zones 12–13)
  5. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas cv., Zone 11)
Previous: Festive Containers in Colorado Ring in the Season Next: Accessorize: Finalist Photos from the 2011 Container Design Challenge
View Comments


  1. jacksonlisa 03/07/2013

    Fantastic idea... Really it looking so nice and beautiful. It gives the different looks to our garden. I like your idea very much and i will try it in my garden plans. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Deziner 05/15/2013

    I feel the winners this year really brought the bar up ! Very creative and inspiring design compositions. It is always a joy to see how people are making their 'garden goodness' and that Fine Gardening magazine is providing a venue to showcase their talents and passion. We all benefit from their efforts.

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  4. Liberty4ev 09/15/2015

    These container designs are stunning! Congrats to all.

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