Pastel container flower display

Plant container display using pastel shades and eucalyptus

Ben Preston, head gardener at York Gate in Leeds, lays out a flower container display using pastel shades

For this display the shape and textures of the foliage were planned before the flower and colour combinations. All five plants add something different, from the low-growing, arrow-shaped leaves of Cyclamen hederifolium Silver-leaved Group to the towering Eucalyptus gunnii, while Corydalis temulifolia ‘Chocolate Stars’ takes on many forms, unfurling in January, then as the season warms its leaflets extend and fade to green, before a mass of violet flowers break in late March.

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How to achieve the look

The subtle blue tones of this aged, copper water tank draw this composition together, complementing the silver foliage of the cyclamen and eucalyptus that provide a framework through which you can weave other plants. Using the eucalyptus as the centrepiece here adds an element of height to the tiered effect of this display. The pink saucers of Helleborus x nigercors ‘Emma’, which age to white, rest above the caramel fern-like froth of the corydalis, while its dark, glossy foliage contrasts with that of the silver-leaved cyclamen. Finally, the lemon trumpets of early flowering of Narcissus ‘Elka’ float through the combination, highlighting the end of winter and beginning of spring.

Plants

Plants used in the Pastel container flower display
© Eva Nemeth

Corydalis temulifolia ‘Chocolate Stars’ Unusual, chocolate-coloured, fern-like foliage topped with lilac tubular flowers. 40cm. RHS H5.

Plants used in the Pastel container flower display
© Eva Nemeth

Narcissus ‘Elka’ Delicate, lemon-yellow trumpets that fade to white. 25cm. AGM. RHS H6.

Plants used in the Pastel container flower display
© Eva Nemeth

Eucalyptus gunnii Silver-leafed, evergreen tree.  18m. AGM. RHS H5.

Plants used in the Pastel container flower display
© Eva Nemeth

Cyclamen hederifolium Silver-leaved Group Tuberous perennial that provides good groundcover. 10cm. RHS H5.

Plants used in the Pastel container flower display
© Eva Nemeth

Helleborus x nigercors ‘Emma’ Large, white flowers with a pink flush. 25cm. RHS H7.

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Cultivation and care

Eucalyptus gunnii must be coppiced or pollarded to maintain the juvenile elliptic foliage that elongates as it matures. Every other spring, we cut ours right down to maintain its form and control its height; it would grow into a large specimen if left untouched. Clipping stems throughout the year for flower arranging makes it such a useful plant. All pots work better with advanced planning, but edits can always be made later to add a little extra something. I couldn’t decide between the white Narcissus ‘Thalia’ and the subtle lemon of ‘Elka’. I picked the latter purely for its early arrival, but potting up some spare bulbs in the autumn means you can become even more creative come spring.