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Smart Garden

Designs for gateway containers

first sight anyone will see of your home



You only get one chance to make a first impression, so put your best foot forward, you can't take back a first impression, and the entryway is the first sight anyone will see of your home. Container gardens, when used correctly, are an easy way to enhance the area and make a lasting impression on your guests. Front entrances often take priority, but don't neglect entrances to key areas of the garden and secondary entrances that you and your family use regularly.


1. A monochromatic theme makes an impact



Golden Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens ‘Swane’s Gold’, USDA Hardiness Zones 7–9)

‘Mystic Illusion’ dahlia (Dahlia ‘Mystic Illusion’, Zones 9–11)

Festival Grass™ cordyline (Cordyline ‘Jurred’, Zones 9–11)

Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’, Zones 8–11)

Dinosaur kale (Brassica oleracea ‘Nero di Toscana’, annual)

Conditions: Full sun


Yellow may not be the most popular color in the rainbow, but I like how it should be seen. Here, it fills this entry container, starting at the pot and moving up from there. The flowers of the 'Mystic Illusion' dahlia float above the dark foliage, breaking up the solid yellow of the golden Italian cypress topiary and the pot below. The color selection picks up the tones and shades of yellow in the garden and the home, unifying the two. As Jack Frost makes his debut, Cypress will continue with a new round of companions to share its beautiful yellow house in winter.


2. A simple container trick allows for an unusual pairing



Pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli, Zones 9–11)

Artichoke agave (Agave parryi var. truncata, Zones 6–9)

Golden Scotch moss (Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’, Zones 4–7)

Conditions: Full sun


Interesting pot shapes and simple but bold plant choices are the basis for these modern entryway containers. The warm colors of the ceramic pots add warmth to the concrete setting, while complementing the cool greens of the plants. Incorporating moisture-loving golden scotch moss into a lower pot with drought-tolerant agave is possible by planting the agave pot inside the moss pot. It's tricky but it works. When watering, the homeowner waters the moss by hand while avoiding the agave and pencil cactus.


3. Containers are also needed for short spans



King Tut papyrus (Cyperus papyrus King Tut®, Zones 10–11)

Tropicanna Gold canna (Canna indica ‘Mactro’, Zones 8–11)

‘Mystic Dreamer’ dahlia (Dahlia ‘Mystic Dreamer’, Zones 9–11)

‘Sedona’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Sedona’, Zone 11)

Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’, Zones 8–11)

Superbells Apricot Punch calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ‘USCALI413–8’, annual)

Variegated potato vine (Solanum jasminoides ‘Variegata’, Zones 9–11)

Conditions: Full sun


These tall, slender planters are perfect for this narrow space because they allow for a large display without taking up a lot of real estate. The height beautifully frames the entry, while wooden pots complement the double doors. Colorful flowers and greenery draw the audience into the show, while a playful King Tut papyrus loosens things up a bit. Although symmetrical and symmetrical, the pots and their contents provide an informal, tropical feel—exactly what the homeowners intended.


4. Add drama by echoing the color of your home



Creeping wire vine (Muehlenbeckia axillaris, Zones 8–10)

Golden dwarf sweet flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’, Zones 6–9)

Silhouette Double Orange impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Silhouette Double Orange, annual)

African mask (Alocasia × amazonica, Zones 10–11)

Conditions: Partial shade


The duo elegantly fits into its surroundings by mirroring the home's color palette and having elements that support dramatic container objects. The heavy, textured leaves of African mask and the strong vertical line of red bamboo draw attention from a distance, while Silhouette® Double Orange impatiens distributes the color saturation of bamboo. Creeping wire vine and sweet vine soften the edge of the ceramic pots while accentuating the airiness of the African mask. Both are cold tolerant and will last beyond the first frost, while also having a reddish wood stainHarvested bamboo provides four-season interest.

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