This urn contains a black-leaf Phormium, a golden-leaf barberry, and a red-veined Heuchera. Variegated vinca is trailing down the side. This long-lived combination would be suitable in half-day sun in our climate. Christina Salwitz/Courtesy photo
Quick effects, lots of color impact. The tradeoff here is that these plants will outgrow the mix pretty quickly. But with some trimming and strategic removal and replacement, this planter will change and provide beautiful color over many weeks. The designer has mixed petunias, lantana, sweet potato vine, salvias, geraniums, against a backdrop of burgundy-leaved cannas and Physocarpus Diablo. Wow! Christina Salwitz/Courtesy photo
A touch of whimsy? No reason garden art objects can’t be part of your planter.
The flowering shrub in the back is an Erica canaliculata, a form of Scotch heather. Preferring acid soil conditions, it might not be the best choice with our alkaline water. Consider Breath-of-heaven (Coleonema) instead. The other plants include (clockwise from right): heuchera, sedum, campanula, barberry, and another sedum, with a euphorbia in the center. This mix would probably need some trimming and perhaps some replanting in a few months. Christina Salwitz/Courtesy photo
Vertical contrast here is provided by common dwarf Lily-of-the-nile (Agapanthus). Gold-leaved heuchera and blue nemesias fill the perennial palate, while lobelia and burgundy coleus provide seasonal summer color. Replace the annuals in winter with violas or cyclamen. Christina Salwitz/Courtesy photo