Gardens - Container Gardening

Plant a container for a shady spot

Paul Zammit
Photography by
Edward Pond

Decorate your table with this cool planter filled with plants in monochromatic green

The scale of this shallow, black bonsai planter is perfect as a centrepiece on a garden table, while the palette of monochromatic green plants makes it a no-brainer for adding cool ambience to a shady spot. Fine, light green club moss provides contrast to the dark planter and offers an ideal backdrop for the other specimens, while the tones of variegated ivy echo those of the cypress and miniature hosta. The Japanese maple and cypress give height to the arrangement, and contribute textural interest without adding density.

Planting tips:

  • Shallow dishes like this have only minimal soil capacity and are prone to drying out, so make sure to keep the soil moist. A moisture-retentive additive, such as Soil Sponge, would be helpful here.
  • To accessorize the final combination, I selected three torches to match the vintage depression glass pitcher and glasses. Note that this serving tray is actually the saucer from another planter. Remember: never leave burning torches unattended.
  • Keep centrepiece material low-slung to avoid blocking sightlines around the table. Here, the specimens chosen for height were open and airy enough to achieve the same goals.
  • In early fall, carefully dismantle the container arrangement and transplant the winter-hardy material, such as the Japanese maple and hosta, into your garden. The remaining plants (divisions, cuttings, even the entire specimen) could be brought inside for the winter, or you can treat them as annuals.
  • The cost of a small Japanese maple may be considered a large expense for a planter, so get your money’s worth by planting it out into the garden at the end of the season

Shopping list, clockwise from top:

‘Waterfall’ Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Waterfall’)
Variegated umbrella grass (Cyperus albostriatus ‘Variegatus’)
Silver Kabitan hosta (Hosta sieboldii var. sieboldii forma kabitan)
Club moss (Selaginella spp.)
Variegated English ivy (Hedera helix cvs.)
Button fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)


Read more in Gardens and Container Gardening

  • Page 1: Plant a tabletop masterpiece in green

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