container gardens
Planters for Permanence

   Among evergreen and deciduous shrubs, there are the Japanese yews, spreading and ground-cover types of junipers, dwarf arborvitae, shrubby evergreen euonymus, skimmia, cherry laurel, mahonias, leucothoe, dwarf Hin-oki cypress, the convex-leaved and other hollies, camellias, azaleas, slender deutzia, dwarf rhododendrons, fothergilla, flowering quinces, heathers, and the mugo pine. Good barberries include the Wintergreen (Berberis julianae), Korean (B. koreana), Mentor (B. mentorensis), three-spine (B. triacanthophora), and warty (B. verruculosa). The dwarf forms of the Japanese barberry, including Crimson Pygmy and the low Berberis thunbergi minor, are superior plants.

   Cotoneasters are valuable because they stay small, have attractive foliage and red berries, develop a loose, informal habit, grow in a variety of situations and withstand wind. Certainly worth considering are the bearberry (Coton-easter dammeri), rock spray (C. horzontalis), the small-leaved cotoneaster (C. microphylla), and the delightful prostrate form, Cotoneaster adpressa.

   Several specimens of trees or shrubs make a pleasing combination with one type of ground cover or trailer, like dwarf Japanese yew with English ivy, Korean boxwood with myrtle, or dwarf Hinoki cypress with pachysandra. Other good ground covers to combine with evergreens include pachistima, prostrate junipers, bearberry or arcto-staphyllos, yellowroot, sweet fern, trailing euonymus, as the purple-leaf type {Euonymus fortunei coloratus), leio-phyllum or sand myrtle, ajuga, and various thymes and sedums.

Flowers for Color

   Planters also need flowers for color. You can start with spring bulbs, like daffodils and tulips, continue with annuals, and finish the season with chrysanthemums. For a pleasing edging, there is the permanent English ivy. Except for small planters, flowering plants are best combined with shrubs. For planters that are three feet or longer, petunias and geraniums, though colorful, are not tall enough.

   Built-in types look well with tropical foliage and flowering plants, which are summer subjects in the North. In sun, for example, the bold leaves of rubber plants (include a few of the variegateds), small palms, Japanese aralia, large-leaved philodendrons, scherfleras, alligator pears and pandanus look well together. Smaller kinds- crotons in variety, hibiscus, grevillea, brunfelsia, and flowering maples-offer spots of color.

   Cannas, with huge, bold leaves, have a modern look. Hybrid angel's trumpets, with large leaves and dramatic white flowers, are dynamic. In smaller planters, dwarf varieties of cannas-Pfitzer's Cherry-Red, Pfkzer's Primrose Yellow, and Pfitzer's Shell Pink-are more desirable. Castor bean, difficult to place because of its enormous leaves, is excellent for the large planters of contemporary houses, as is elephant's ear, started easily from tubers.