Thriller, Fillers and Spillers: The Formula for a Fabulous Planter

 
The good, the bad and the ugly; that’s what comes to mind as I wander the streets of White Rock looking at planters. Another staple of condo buildings, planters are often used to flank the entranceway or add drama to the landscape. 
Some buildings have take time to either plan their containers well or they’ve hired a person with some know how. Other condos have taken the “Marge always does it” approach. Poor Marge, someone should speak to her about the marigolds.

I have no desire to “planter shame” any buildings in White Rock, so I’m just going to stick to posting some of the fabulous ones I’ve seen within a few blocks of my place. 
Containers should be made up of “thrillers” (plants that stand high and perhaps have a strong color or presence), “fillers” (the soil level plants that anchor the display) and “spillers” (the leggy ones that hang over the side). Sometimes not all three are necessary as you’ll see from these photos I took, but you’ll notice that the most interesting planters are those that have all these elements. Here are some good examples:
   
  

Personally I also like some stark contrast in color like in this one filled with purple and lime:  

This one has a tall central plant but looks a bit unfinished:  

And here’s an example of large planter with a tree as its main element, and it’s finished nicely with some anchoring foliage beneath:   
Ivy is great for a spiller:  

Love this ornamental grass:

  

Pretty colors: 
  There are lots of planter “recipes” on the Internet and ones for your specific zone can be found. Personally I enjoy wandering through the garden center and imagining how things will look together in a group. It’s a lot like painting with plants.

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Time, Thyme and more Time

   

As a newcomer to the lower mainland (and new to BC for that matter) I’m a rookie when it comes to growing things in zone 8. I’ve nurtured plants in zone 3 for forty-plus years but I’ve never lived anywhere but the Canadian prairies*.

It’s a whole different ballgame, so to speak. Plants thrive here in the warmth and humidity. They get several more months to grow and produce, whether flowers, seeds, herbs or fruit. 

On the prairies timing is everything; you have to have your seeds in the dirt and under artificial light in March or you won’t have seedlings ready to plant out in May. If you transplant too early you can loose your tomatoes to frost, if you wait too long you may lose them in the fall before they’re at full production. It’s a risky business and every gardener has lost the gamble at one time or another.

Here in White Rock things are more flexible. The season is twice as long and that allows for some leeway in choosing what to plant and when safely expose it to the elements. Instead of choosing only seeds with a short “days to maturity” time, I can choose virtually any seeds. ANY SEEDS. 

It’s no wonder the local farms are already selling freshly harvested carrots, tomatoes and baby potatoes at the market. The variety of local produce already available is staggering: strawberries, raspberries, greens, peppers, garlic, basil to name a few. 

Even my own peppers and tomato plants are flowering on my balcony, something I’d be waiting another month or two to experience back in Edmonton. It’s a whole new adventure, and I think I’m going to be able to adjust just fine. <grin>

  
*Ok, I did live for four years in southwestern Ontario in my early twenties, but I’ve tried to wash those memories from my brain.