leonie cornelius

DESIGN MAGAZINE by LEONIE CORNELIUS
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Creative Containers-Plant your own Summer

It’s time. Looking out my window today at the streaming May rain day I decided to give up on waiting for Summer vibes to come and instead bring some of my own to the garden. It’s been a hard start to the year and most of us are craving the lush greens and explosions in the garden that we associate with this time of the year. So yes, it’s time to get in the Summer mood.

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To get in the Summer mood I decided to plant up a zesty Summer vibe mix of plants in a gorgeous green container. There is nothing better than looking out your window and seeing some fresh and vibrant colour and the container and plants chosen for this scheme are based on bringing some cheer to the garden, patio or balcony. So why not get out there and plant up your own Summer!The Inspiration behind the look:
For every scheme, whether it’s a garden, a show garden or a planting combination in a planter I find that having an anchor plant which inspires everything else is a great way to start. Sometimes this is a plant that speaks of the scheme such as, say a fern for a jungle feel, or a tree which tells of a concept-such as an olive for a Mediterranean scheme. Considering all my dreaming of warmth and Summer, it is no surprise that the inspiration for this whole scheme came from lime green leaves of the small tree, the golden Shirasawa maple. For me this tree is one that shows every other tree how to spring into growth. Unfurling gently, almost like small hands in shape, the paper thin, leaves open up in the most vibrant green. This colour is the one that most of us associate with Spring, new growth and the lushness of the Summer months. It was the perfect starting point for the scheme and led me to echo the colour of the lime in a beautiful lime planter.
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Colour theory
The next thing I had to consider was which colours I wanted to bring into the scheme. The striking contrast of lime green and rich lilac-pink is one I have long been a fan of in gardens, especially in container combinations. The two colours which are both subtle and rich in character within themselves, come together to create a combination which is easy on the eye and also striking in effect. We associate lime green with new growth and it is one that restores strength and balance from a psychological viewpoint. It is considered to be the colour of optimism and is seen as the colour that restores our connection with nature and takes us away from the stresses of modern living.
Considering the vibrancy of the green shade I decided to limit myself to one other colour in the scheme and the rich magenta of the Dahlias and the primulas were just irresistible as a combination. Cascading Aubretia in the same colour ensured that the colour impact was both simple in shades but very striking in effect.
The Chosen Plants 
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Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’
golden Shirasawa maple
This gorgeous tree is the backbone for the design and lends its wispy, lime green leaves and structural stem to the scheme. Here I am using it as a feature plant when the plant is still mature but eventually it will fill out to become a small tree or large shrub of about 4-8metres in height and spread and can be planted out into the garden. It also has crimson flowers which are carried in upright clusters and many of these have incredible Autumn colour.

 

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Primula denticulata
drumstick primula
Underlining the concept of two simple colours the drumstick primula is a fantastic choice for early colour and I use them in so many different ways. Here the herbaceous or semi-evergreen perennials become small balls of colour that float above the other plants, accentuating the two tone scheme and adding a playful element.

 

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Suitzuz Julie colour Dahlia
While the Acer’s colour may have been the inspiration behind the scheme it’s safe to say that this Dahlia is the showpiece of the scheme. I adore Dahlias from the small delicate ones to the dinner plate varieties there are endless varieties that are all so visually arresting. This particular dwarf variety is a gorgeous shade of lilac-pink and is a perfect choice for the lime green of the planter. Smaller varieties are best for containers and varieties such as ‘Little Missy’ or ‘Little Blessing’ are also perfect choices.

 

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Aubrieta ‘Doctor Mules’
Every scheme in a planter should consider including a plant that takes advantage of the lower half of the container. Plants which spill put over the planter and cascade down give a lovely natural effect to a scheme and balance out the top half of the scheme. Aubrieta’s a perfect plant to add a bit of trailing drama to the scheme and they also add to the simple two colour approach perfectly, picking up on both the colours of the Dahlia, the primula and the Acer. It’s also a great plant to use to fill out a container as the mat forming perennial will easily fill gaps.

 

Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight’

everlasting flower ‘Limelight’
Last but not least this little flower is a gorgeous trailing addition which brings the lime colour to the base of the planter. In time the lovely plant with downy lime green foliage will spill elegantly over the sides of the planter.

 

 

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Getting the soil right and caring for your container
To make sure the combination holds up I used a thin layer of grit at the base of the planter and covered it in a good layer of multipurpose compost. I would recommend a potting soil especially for containers which will give the plants a good head start. I always like to soak each plant in a bucket of water prior to planting and loosening any roots that have been potbound. Eventually the Acer will outgrow this planter but until then it will be a fantastic show piece at the heart of the seasonal colour.

With special thanks to Horkans.ie. Container and plants all available at Horkans stores nationwide.

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Photo By: Colin Gillen

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