Stylish container displays for summer

Head gardener Thomas Unterdorfer uses textured foliage, chalky tones and plum coloured salvia in this stylish summer container display. 

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Long-lasting summer display

 

This pot sits by the swimming pool where it has to look good from the first warm days in May right up to September. The planting also has to work at night, when the lights and candles are lit and the pool garden is elevated to a theatre-like set. I have chosen plants that will provide interest for the whole season, but also make sure the ensemble changes through the season and ends up in an exuberance of lush foliage and flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plants

1 Pelargonium tomentosum Heavenly minty scented and easily propagated by cuttings. Small, white flowers, but mainly grown for its leaves. Flowers July to October. 1.25m.

2 Salvia Love and Wishes (= ‘Serendip6’) Rich purple flowers with dark-purple racemes. Benefits from deadheading and feeding. June to October. 1m.

3 Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’ Great cut flower that benefits from deadheading. June to October. 1.2m.

4 Plectranthus argentatus Pale-lavender flowers in racemes. July to September. 1m.

5 Plumbago auriculata f. alba Pure-white flowers on terminal racemes. Needs full sun and a sheltered position. July to October. 1.2m.

 

 

How to achieve the look

Colours and shapes
I’ve kept the plant selection cool, but you could easily use blue-flowering plumbago and pink-and-purple cosmos. Pelargonium tomentosum is one of my favourites for its scent and leaves and we also train it as an espalier at the back of the loggia. Plectranthus argentatus is another favourite, flowering in a pale lilac in summer. Salvia Love and Wishes (= ‘Serendip6’) will flower all summer, but you will have to make sure it doesn’t get swamped by its neighbours.

At the height of summer, Plumbago auriculata f. alba will start flowering and I like to think of it as fireworks, especially at night. Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’ is my desert island plant and I have grown it forever for its beautiful flowers and determination.

Container, cultivation and care
This pretty terracotta pot is from Impruneta, a small village outside Florence where the potteries produce a vast array of different styles. I’ve loved them ever since I visited the village while I was studying in Vienna.
The pots are resistant to frost, even on a Viennese roof terrace.

Many plants in this arrangement are very hungry, so I will feed them with a liquid fertiliser right until the end of the growing season. Discreet staking will be necessary to avoid damage and enable me to tease some pelargonium and plectranthus shoots right to the top. Salvias and cosmos will have to be deadheaded and if any plant tries to take over, it will have to be curtailed with secateurs.

 

 

Words Thomas Unterdorfer
Photographs Andrew Montgomery

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