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A Variety of Interesting Plants Give These Pots an Extra Punch

This reader mixes bright colors and bold textures in his containers

three containers with pink flowers and bold foliage

Our friend Jeff Calton in Tennessee was so inspired by these containers from Butchart Gardens that he decided to share some of his own designs. Some are at his own house, and some he designed for clients.

large container with bold and colorful foliage

container with large foliage and pink and yellow flowers

small container with various succulents

container with diverse foliage textures

container with colorful foliage plant

urn container with large foliage plant

group of containers planted with a single plant each

patio covered in cacti and succulents in containers

group of cacti and succulents in containers

container with edible plants

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  1. dirtgirl1949 07/22/2013

    Oh goodness Jeff, what some amazing container arrangements! I would be more than happy to have any of these in my garden. Well done Jeff on such spectacular results.

  2. user-1020932 07/22/2013

    thanks dirtgirl! i swamped Michelle with photos as we do well over 100 containers for clients each spring, switching some out mid summer and switching many many out with evergreens for winter. i get the leftovers at my house but sometimes you have to PLAN for what you want leftover! the leafy black pot no longer exists, it's chard and various lettuce varieties and ihave eaten it all and yes it's a bowling ball. by Halloween i have the most colorful compost bin in the state

  3. brainbear 07/22/2013

    Wow Jeff, your containers are beautiful. I especially like the fourth one down, what is the plant with the large dark leaves in that container? I would also like to comment on the actual containers, I've have never seen any that nice in Ontario. Do you have an internet source for some of those fancy shiny ones??

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/22/2013

    Hi, Jeff, your container compositions all have so much flare and personality...nothing humdrum or ordinary about the choice of plants and how they're combined. I'm particularly drawn to the one that showcases the Japanese painted fern which adds such a sense of texture and subtle colorfulness...just beautiful. Actually, the word "Spectacular" comes to mind to describe them all!

  5. user-1020932 07/22/2013

    brainbear, the dark leaved plant is Colocasia Kona Koffee, we save those from year to year in the cellar and drag them out in spring for another years work. they can get quite LARGE so i used a small 2nd year bulb in that container. the copper pots were bought locally through Westfield Herbary i'll ask Pam where she got them and if they are still available.
    meander1, you always get a preview as i share WAY too many photographs

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/22/2013

    Wondrerful. I am smitten with what looks like a shrimp plant (no idea of the real name). Is it in a hanging basket or somehow trained as a standard?

  7. user-1020932 07/22/2013

    vojt, it's trained on a braided standard and i am afraid whenever anyone sneezes that it's going to snap off but i do have it on a steel rod just in cast. Justicia brandgeeana and the hummingbirds LOVE it, flowers until frost unfailingly

  8. Heycorrie 07/22/2013

    These are beautiful! I am always looking for inspiration for our containers at work (Cincinnati Parks).

  9. Wife_Mother_Gardener 07/22/2013

    Beautiful! Love the Musa with the begonias!

  10. tractor1 07/22/2013

    I love chard, fresh beet root too... and always perturbs me whenever I see folks rip off the beet tops at the market and discard them... often I ask and get a huge bagful for free before they end up in the dumpster... beet tops are far better than spinach. What is that mauve (love saying 'mauve') powder puff looking flowering plant behind the shrimp plant... looks interesting but I'll just bet it's something that won't survive my 5a winters, or the deer. Very nice container plantings and superb photo compositions, thank you, Jeff.

  11. cwheat000 07/22/2013

    The botanical gardens have nothing on you. They are all dramatic and beautiful. I especially love the copper containers.

  12. User avater
    HelloFromMD 07/22/2013

    Hi Jeff, love the choice of containers- the black one against the black iron rails. Lovely combos of plants and great idea to use the painted fern. will be doing that one now myself take care, Nancy

  13. GrannyMay 07/22/2013

    Amazing containers Jeff! They make me realize how timid I have been in choosing the heights of the plants for my own. Can't wait till next year to try the giants! Especially love your succulent and cactus collection and your penny bowling ball.

    Vegetables grown in containers are a great idea too. I tuck everbearing strawberry plants into some of my perennial containers and dill into the large pot that holds my dwarf peach tree. I tried growing kale in one full compost bin but the deer found it just right for a big feast!

  14. sheila_schultz 07/22/2013

    Great containers, Jeff. Lot's of fun combos and blends of colors. It's also a treat to see all the begonias and Japanese Painted Ferns... they're not nearly as happy in CO with our lack of humidity!

  15. janetsfolly 07/22/2013

    Jeff, I have to agree on the container with painted fern, LOVE it! Croton and anthurium were such a common part of my various gardens in St. Croix that I seldom bother paying the prices here in Ohio, but THAT combo is so stunning. The copper urn is part of the beauty but I might be able to fake that somehow. ;-) Thanks for some beautiful inspiration and a shot of your wonderful whimsy!

  16. user-1020932 07/22/2013

    tractor1 that powderpuff flower behind the shrimp plant is a crape myrtle and you're right, it won't make it that far north.

  17. tractor1 07/22/2013

    Strange how I keep admiring that same plant in all it's pemutations just to discover I can't have one... oh crape, mercy!

  18. user-1020932 07/22/2013

    tractor1 you must have been a southern boy in a previous life, crape myrtles are EVERYWHERE thruout the south . Heptacodium might work for you it's sort of a crape myrtle for the north , lots of white flowers in august, fragrant, great peeling white bark,,, i use those too when i can find them available

  19. Bobbie2c 07/22/2013

    Lovely arrangements Jeff, but what is the red flowering plant in two of the succulent groupings? Possibly lipstick plant? I would like to know where I can find it and will it grow in Texas? Also about the yellow shrimp plant: I have had one for the past 3 years and it has done great, but is beginning to show it's age. Can it be rooted, or must I find a new one? It seems to bloom non-stop, but is very brittle and breaks easily.

  20. user-1020932 07/22/2013

    may, i will admit that the banana in the copper urn got WAY bigger than we anticipated. the client selected that particular plant for the urns (there are 2 matching ones) and wanted them by the front door. 2 weeks ago i got a text from her saying: help i'm trapped by bananas and can't get out of the house. so we moved the deck urns to the door and the banana urns to the deck. i also lost a sizeable Dioon in a windstorm, the wind caught it and just sailed it away, no clue where it is and just today i was helping a client search for rhododendron that were washed away in our sudden deluge last week. almost 6 inches of rain in an hour, it was and still is a mess

  21. user-1020932 07/22/2013

    bobby2c the red flowering plant is Begonia boliviensis, i have had it for years. in fall i cut off the top and put in the basement and drag it out in the spring and it regrows, i have a stump in the pot from which it emerges. i think it would be hardy a bit further south i'm in 6b. i saw it growing everywhere in the andes of peru and bolivia and it gets pretty cold at that elevation. the yellow shrimp plant i have never tried to root, , i just buy new ones each year. i like immediate gratification. i have had problems trying to winter over with whitefly but outside,,,,,,no problem. where in TX? i lived for a year in san angelo way out west

  22. Bobbie2c 07/22/2013

    Jeff, I appreciate you're answering and I would never have guessed a tuberous begonia! I'm looking for one of those now, although I may not have enough sun and I have too many deer, so may not have your success! My yellow shrimp plant is the only one I've ever seen, so they are not very plentiful here and I may try rooting it just to keep it going. It's had no white fly problem although I've had them on my coleus. We are in Salado, central Texas, IH35 half way between Austin and Waco and very near Fort Hood. I am familiar with San Angelo, although not very near there.

  23. bee1nine 07/22/2013

    Wow! Mega magnificent on your container work Jeff.
    Surely have quite a collection of succulents and cactus too.
    And looks like even more have been added since your last
    submitted photo's. Am I right?
    I have a begonia bolviensis(Bonfire') as well. Have had it for about five years now. And need to do the same as you, to
    winter it over each year. Here in MA. Love this plant!

  24. user-1020932 07/22/2013

    bee1nine yes i have added more cacti and succulents and i keep adding more of everything. it's really outta control! the largest ones have outgrown my abilities to overwinter so i'm giving them to a local school with a pretty good horticulture program for use in their lobby planters. the LARGE golden barrel, the pachypodium, Dioon, all the Zamia and anything else i can pawn off on them i just don't have room for the big stuff . i planted the hardier of the Agave outside last weekend buthad to build raised areas and really work the soil to provide fast drainage or else they would rot this winter. yes, i'm crazy

  25. bee1nine 07/23/2013

    Hi Jeff, Appreciate your relay. You just can't beat succulents and cacti with/for their minimal care!
    My thumbs up to donating those you can know longer overwinter
    and go to your local school. Wonderful solution!
    And by the way, you're NOT crazy- it's a positive passion,
    and as long as we have our health and strength, it's a good

  26. bee1nine 07/23/2013

    Jeff, Was just checking in again and noticed my goof. It
    should read as- Appreciate your reply!

  27. 7lfair 07/23/2013

    Butchart Gardens should hire you Jeff! Your containers are spectacular.

  28. janeeliz 07/24/2013

    What a great assortment of containers you've created, Jeff! Each one so unique! Makes me want to try using more containers, but I'm not sure where I'd put them.

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