Garden Design

Welcome to Kevin Kelly’s garden, where containers are used as pieces of garden art to accent the plantings.

I have been gardening in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b), for over 25 years. My garden is on a third-acre lot in a suburban neighborhood. I am not surrounded by any amazing vistas, nor do I have any borrowed views. Instead, my borders are designed to contain vignettes filled with lush plantings and often paired with a container, which may be planted or left empty. I find the eye often searches out these pops of color or structure and helps us to slow down and enjoy the vignette presented. Here are a few samples for your enjoyment.

vignette of unique foliage plantsI love this combination in a very shady part of the back border. Two colors of Heuchera (Zones 4–9) combined with Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Zones 3–8), the silver-spotted leaves of Pulmonaria (Zones 3–8), and a pretty container.

coneflowers and foliage plants next to large containerThis container works well with Weigela ‘My Monet’ (Zones 4–8), rudbeckia (Rudbeckia fulgida, Zones 4–9), and some annuals.

big dark red container surrounded by perennialsCrocosmia ‘Walberton Yellow’ (Zones 6–9) and Heuchera ‘Caramel’ (Zones 4–8) pair nicely with this container. Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Duke Gardens’ (Zones 6–9) and Pinus parviflora ‘Cleary’ (Zones 5–7) form a nice backdrop.

dark purple agave in front of large potThis early summer vignette includes a mangave (Agave hybrid, hardiness varies by variety). Soon the Echinacea (Zones 5–9) and cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus, annual) will become more prominent. The large container anchors this vignette.

evergreen shrub in a blue containerPlanting Thuja occidentalis ‘Golden Emerald’ (Zones 2–7) in a bluish container gives more height and accents the smaller perennials.

purple flowers with hostasAgave ‘Lavender Lady’ (Zones 8–10) stands proud in a container placed on a pedestal. It is surrounded by Diervilla rivularis ‘Kodiak Black’ (Zones 5–7), Itea virginica (Zones 5–9 ), and Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ (Zones 3–8).

variegated foliage plant above a blue and brown containerCallicarpa dicotomia ‘Duet’ (Zones 5–8), Asclepius tuberosa (Zones 3–9) and Rudbeckia hirta (Zones 3–7 or grown as an annual)

succulents in a elevated bowl surrounded by plantsA variety of succulents in a bowl are surrounded by Ageratum ‘Blue Danube’ (annual), dinosaur kale (Brassica oleracea ‘Lacinato’), and Phlox paniculata ‘David’ (Zones 4–8)

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