5 Great Containers, Part 2–Trees

A few days ago I blogged about the client who wanted to surprise his wife with a beautiful balcony. And I showed you the first of 5 great containers.

Here is the first:


Click on the image to get a close up of the under plantings.

The Tree

The main plant is of course the Japanese Maple–Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’. This is one of the more sun-tolerant Japanese Maples, which being understory trees prefer a little shade. But our West Coast heat isn’t very intense, nor is our sun, so as long as these lovely trees are given adequate water, they should be fine. This specimen was probably staked to about 4′ then allowed to begin its “droop”. Next year as the canopy flufffs out, the lower limbs can be pruned off (“limbed up”) so that the growing underplantings can be more visible. (I did prune off a few branches already so there was room for the other plants.)

Underplanted With

The underplantings all had to be happy with moderately damp soil, so I chose:

The sweet little Chamaecyparis pisifera–Golden Threadleaf Cypress. It doesn’t have a variety name, but I’m guessing “Sungold’ or ‘Golden Mop’. The tag says it can grow to 10′, but maybe in 20 years or so! It can also be pruned to stay within it’s container limits, and still be an underplanting.

Next is Sisynchrium ‘sapphire’–Blue-eyed grass. Being a cousin to Iris, this will also want a good amount of water. It’s supposed to be a spring bloomer, but there are actually buds on these little guys.

Then one of my all-time-favourite plants, a Heuchera, in this case H. ‘Stormy Seas’. I was hoping to buy one of the purple ones that I knew would be sun-tolerant for this south-facing balcony (‘Obsidian’, ‘Purple Palace’, ‘Georgia Plum’) none of which were at the nursery that day. So I risked ‘Stormy Seas’. Now I find it on a list of “shade tolerant heucheras. But you can see it’s positioned at the back of the planter, slightly shaded by the plant in front, under the overhang of the balcony above it, and in the shadow of the wall to the west of it. So should be OK.

And finally another favourite, Sedum telephium ‘Xenox’–one of the tall sedums, in this can a real plum colour with just-about-to-bloom pink flowers.

There’s one tiny red Sempervivum (“Hens and Chicks”) in the front, rescued from the succulent pot. They multiply like rabbits (or chicks), so one will be many by next summer.

The Design

The design then is as follows:

one tree,

one smaller shrub,

one fluffy perennial,

one taller perennial,

one grass.

Sort of.

This is a formula you can take to the bank, I guarantee it.

And to give you the preview of the next instalment, and following the same formula:

DSCN2020Details to come, so stay tuned…

And of course, as always, would love to get your comments, questions, concerns, even rants–nicely please.