Thrillers, fillers, spillers for your garden

Creating your own planter is really quite simple and easy if you remember three things, says Brian Minter


This past Wednesday was the first cool morning we’ve had in a long while, and it was not only refreshing but it also signalled the beginning of a new season.  When I look at the many tired planters and baskets on porches and patios, it truly is time for a change and a refresh.  It takes so little time and effort to create a new fall look that I’m surprised how few folks actually bother.  Over the next three to four months, as the weather turns colder, grey and more wet, you will really appreciate having created a new uplifting look for your home.

Creating your own planter is really quite simple and easy if you remember three things.  Proven Winners actually created a theme for containers called ‘thrillers, fillers and spillers’.  What’s a ‘thriller’?  Well it’s an attention getter, something that just ‘pops’!  For ‘thrillers’, I love to use grasses, such as dwarf miscanthus ‘Yaku Jima’ with its tiny flower heads, the thin elegant leaves of miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ or colourful conifers like cypress ‘Fernspray Gold’ or ‘Forever Goldie’, which you will enjoy all through winter.   I also love the delightful dwarf nandinas, often called Heavenly Bamboo.  They are not bamboo, but are rather an elegant lacy broadleaved evergreen that looks fabulous at this time of year with a touch of red that lasts all winter.

The ‘filler’ is just as its name suggests – something to accent the ‘thriller’ and give body to your pots.  Beautiful fall coloured chrysanthemums provide the most punch at this time of year, and they combine nicely with grasses. Some of my other favourites are the new stunning blue fescue grass called ‘Beyond Blue’ which is a real eye-catcher and the evergreen euphorbias like ‘Tasmanian Tiger’, ‘Glacier’ and ‘Ascot Rainbow’.  Not to be outdone are the many, many colours of heucheras, like the limes, purples and bronzes.  Each of these plants has a way of colour blending your pots to bring it all together.

Finally the ‘spillers’, gently cascading over the edge of your containers, will soften the look of your pots  and add to the charm.  Evergreen carex grasses are the best, and there are many new colours such as C. ‘Everillo’ (hot lime), C. ‘Everest’ (a popping white and green) and C. ‘Ever Lime’ (a rich shiny dark green).  These new varieties, along with the proven superstar C. ‘Evergold’, will make a significant contribution to any grouping of plants.  Variegated ivy, trailing ajugas like ‘Black Scallop and evergreen cotoneasters like C. dammeri with its red berries will all add a nice touch too.  For hanging baskets, just use some of these ‘spillers’ along with the new trailing ‘Cool Wave’ pansies for colour.

For an instant wow factor, after gently ruffling up the roots of each plant, snuggle them closely together –the fullness of the planting will create a fabulous looking container and your plants will be happy.   To maintain that nice look, a couple of tablespoons of slow release 14-14-14 fertilizer will keep them well fed until late fall. Make sure you use a very well-drained soil, like ProMix High Porosity (HP) for an ideal fast draining blend which is essential during times of heavy rain.

For a final touch, pop in some contorted branches of willow or filbert or some cool new fall décor.  As it starts to get darker earlier in the evening, a string of LED lights will create a magical touch.

So let’s recreate a fresh new look for fall.  It’s fun, creative and easy.

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