Plants For Contemporary Containers – Simple plants with strong shapes are the sort that will look best with contemporary containers. If your plants are over-fussy, you completely lose the effect of your stylish pot. For the same reason, it’s a good idea not to mix too many plants together. For a contemporary look, you’d stick to one kind of plant per container, but make it something with a dramatic shape like a grass. That same shape could be repeated several times over so you had, say, several round tubs of different grasses, all of a different size. Use them as a group, but space them out enough so that you can see the shape of each one separately. Three or five would be plenty – odd numbers always work best.
Grasses and sedges. The evergreen kinds like festuca and carex are specially good for containers, as you keep your effect all year round; these make neat tussocky shapes and come in a range of colors from bright blue through greens to bronze. The variegated kinds look great. And bamboos which are just giant grasses – are brilliant in big containers.
Spiky plants like outdoor yucca and cordyline palm are specially striking, like living architecture – some also have variegated foliage. The purple ones just look as if they are dead.
Rock plants. For smaller containers you can find drought-proof spiky rock plants like sea thrift, Sedum spathulifolium ’Purpureum’ and sempervivum – they look like pop art shapes. If you want a bigger ‘statement’ you could plant them all together in a big bowl so they run into each other.
Sedum spathulifolium ’Purpureum’
Box. lf you want to go to town on shapes, then box trimmed into very neat simple topiary shapes like spheres can look great. You could just have a row of identical box balls in pots lined up along a wall or displayed on a distressed painted wall unit. Or plant a bigger container with different-sized box balls all overlapping each other to make a cloud shape.
Tree ferns. Tasmanian tree ferns look prehistoric, just a thick hairy trunk with a great spray of ferny fronds sticking out of the top. In New Zealand some tree ferns are so common that they use the trunks as timber called ‘punga’ tor making fence posts, which take root and start sprouting – a row of them wired together looks amazing.
Cordyline australis ‘Red Star’