Trouble spots in the garden, bare patios, decks and balconies are the perfect place for a collection of containers filled with plants, and with some creative arranging, a “potscape” is born. Inspired by collections of potted plants at the front door of Great Dixter, the garden of Christopher Lloyd in Rye, and the greenhouse entrances of Beth Chatto’s nursery in Colchester, England, groupings of containers like those shown here have become a fun way to experiment in our gardens.
Potscapes can contain all types of plants—annuals, perennials, small shrubs, houseplants, ornamental grasses, vegetables, herbs, tender bulbs, even water plants. Varying plant heights, interesting foliage texture and coordinated colours bring the scene to life. Each container is a garden unto itself, with larger pots being home to a variety of plants and smaller pots planted with one variety to complement the larger mixed planters. Group plants however you like, with no need to stick to similar soil conditions—you can easily position dry-loving succulents right next to bog plants if they complement each other.
Containers can be anything, as long as they have drainage holes. With the exception of water gardens, excess water needs an escape route. It is not necessary, or helpful, to put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the pots. Good-quality potting soils, or soilless mixes with some compost added, are preferred to garden soils. For succulents, some coarse sand or fine gravel can be mixed in as well. Plant central items first and work your way to the outer edges. Loosen matted roots to let the plants establish quickly; add slow-release fertilizer and gently firm soil. Water the pots when the
soil feels dry to the touch, then arrange and rearrange at will.