By Laura Hughes, Greenhouse Supervisor, Dundee Nursery and Landscaping
Creating beautiful annual planters is not a science, but rather a work of art that reflects you! I always start by determining my light conditions (sun vs. shade) and the color scheme I want to use. Then I consider the symmetry to use by asking myself if the planter will be viewed from all sides or only from the front. Once these questions have been answered, it’s time to begin creating using the “Thrill, Fill, and Spill” method. Imagine the letter “A” when thinking “Thrill, Fill, and Spill.” It’s tall in the middle and widens and fills out as you go down.
Thrill yourself with something dramatic in the center of the planter – something tall and eye-catching. Depending on the light conditions this “thrill” can be anything with height (i.e. grass, dahlias, or guara, to name a few.)
“Fill” plants can provide variety and texture to your planter. Two of our most popular “fill” plants are euphorbia and coleus. Euphorbia, with its dainty, airy white flowers, provides a nice contrast to other darker colors. Coleus can provide interest and texture through its vivid colors and patterns.
Don’t forget the “spill!” There are so many vibrant trailing plants that can be used for drama and contrast that it will be hard to choose. A few of my favorites are ipomoea (sweet potato vine), torenia, lysimachia, calibrachoa (million bells), ivy, and verbena.
The key elements of any beautiful planter are height, texture, and color. Don’t be afraid to experiment when you’re shopping. Using your shopping cart as your planter, pick plants that you love. Arrange them on the cart as you would in your planter. Doesn’t look quite right? Reposition them, change colors, add or subtract until you have the combination that express you. If you’re still not sure, find one of our friendly, knowledgeable staff. We are always available to help with ideas! Most of all have fun and don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities.
In the following photo, the fountain is the “thriller” and gives dramatic height to the arrangement of flowers. The fountain is “filled” on the top level with torenia and on the lower level with petunias and grasses. The “spillers” are ipomoea and lamium.
In the next photo, we have bold, gigantic colocasia (elephant ears) as our “thriller” with light pink impatiens as “fillers” and ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra as the “spiller.”
These matching arrangements feature carex grass as the “thriller” with New Guinea impatiens and their pink and red flowers as the “filler” and lime green lysimachia as the “spiller.”