In this article, we will be discussing container plants for formal and modern schemes. Formal gardens conform to a scheme, which is symmetrical in nature whilst more modern designs follow a scheme that is not as formal but is asymmetrical in nature; two different schemes but both employ similar plants.
Clipped hedging is a common feature in formal schemes, where it is used to screen plants or to provide level landscapes to show your ornamental flowering plants. You can even create a knot garden.
A knot garden is a garden of very formal design in a square formation, where a variety of aromatic plants and/or culinary herbs are used. This includes herbs like marjoram, thyme, lemon balm, hyssop, rosemary, and chamomile, along with germander, southernwood, calendula, viola, and Santolina. The square designed is normally highly symmetrical.
In formal schemes, boxes and yews are traditional choices. Boxes can be planted in containers, whilst yews cannot, so you are limited to box and some other shrubs if you want to create formal hedges in your design.
YOU ARE NOT ONLY TIED TO BOXES AND YEWS
This is not your only choice as Lonicera (Honeysuckle) or Berberis can be used in more updated designs. Modern scheme normally have blocks of plants noted for their leaves, such as bamboos, grasses, sedges, or hebes. This will provide areas of colour and texture interest.
Also popular is pleached trees where stems are left bare and the branches trained horizontally to form a formal hedge. The branches are interwoven together so that no person can pass through the hedge.
This scheme is unsuitable for container gardening and only recommend for those who have plenty of room for tall specimens. These tall specimens often cannot be planted in containers.
In both schemes, flowers are used sparingly and only used to add splashes of colours, amongst the greens.
What follows are plants that are recommended for these schemes:
BUXUS SEMPERVIRENS (Box)
This is a compact, slow-growing, evergreen shrub that produces woody stems of small, oval green leaves. The leaves and branches are ideal to practice topiary on, where you can clip away to your heart’s content.
Grow this 1m tall plant in a large container full of multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade. You can use long raised bed to form a formal hedge, as long as they are planted 50cm apart from each other.
Look out for Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ as an alternative.
BERBERIS THUNBERGII (Japanese Barberry)
This is a deciduous shrub with spiny shoots, bearing long oblate, green leaves that turn red and orange in autumn. In spring solitary yellow-red flowers appear, which are followed by scarlet berries.
Grow this slow-growing shrub that grows up to 1.5m high in a well-drained, moisture-retentive, multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade. You can use it in raised bed in groups in a line to form a formal hedge.
This is a compact, rounded, evergreen shrub that has dense small, greyish-green leaves. This is another shrub that can be clipped to shape. This 60cm tall plant produces clusters of small, white flower that appear in summer, Great in the edges of geometric schemes. Grow it in a well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade. For an alternative plant use Hebe ‘Pewter Dome’
HYDRANGEA MACROPHYLLA (Lancecap Hydrangea)
A 1.5m tall deciduous shrub that has broad, oval green leaves. In summer, clusters of flat-headed tiny, pink or blue flowers are surrounded by large white flowers.
Grow this plant as an edging for paths in a well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade.
As an alternative, you can use Hydrangea paniculata.
LAURUS NOBILIS (Bay Laurel)
This 12m tall evergreen tree produces branches of aromatic, dark green leaves. The leaves themselves can be clipped into various designs and shapes. Grow this plant in a sheltered area in large containers of well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade.
LONICERA NITIDA (Shrubby Honeysuckle)
This evergreen, m tall, bushy shrub has arching stems of minute, dark green leaves. It is best if this plant is clipped to knee height or waist height hedges, depending on your preference. It can be trimmed into various topiary shapes.
Look out for ‘Baggesen’s Gold’, which has golden-yellow leaves. Grow it in large containers full of well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun or partial shade.
MISCANTHUS SINENSIS (Maiden Silvergrass)
This is a 2m tall, herbaceous clump-forming perennial. The grass-like green leaves can grow up to 75cm in length, where above it flowers with purplish heads appear. Grow this perennial in well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
PELARGONIUM (Scented-Leaved Pelargonium) ‘Lady Plymouth’
This perennial, often grown as an annual, has scented, silver-margined green leaves. In summer lavender-pink flowers appear. Grow it in a container as part of the ornamental flower scheme as part of a formal deism. It prefers to be grown in well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
Roses are great as part of any formal or modern scheme, where colour splashes will stand-out through all the green hedging.
Roses like to be grown in well-drained, enriched multipurpose compost in full sun.
‘Graham Thomas’ is a 1.2m tall climber that has green leaves that are disease resistant. In summer to autumn, highly fragrant, full double cup-shaped, yellow blooms are borne. Ideal growing up an arch.
‘Kent’ is a spreading, ground cover rose that has glossy, disease-resistant, mid-green leaves, In summer to autumn, flat white, semi-double flowers appear. Grow this 0.8m tall rose as an edging plant in a large container.
‘Penelope’ is a 1m tall shrub rose with long, arching stems of dark green leaves, In summer and autumn, fragrant, semi-double, cream-pink flowers appear, Great as part of any formal border scheme.
‘Warm Wishes’ is a bushy, hybrid tea rose that has mid-green leaves that are disease resistant. Grow this as a specimen plant, where in summer to autumn, fully double, scented orange-pink flowers are produced.
SALVIA SPLENDENS (Scarlet Sage)
This 25cm tall, tender upright perennial that is often grown as an annual. It has spear-shaped, dark green leaves, where in summer, spikes of tubular, pink, red and purple blooms are borne. This will ass splashes of colour to any formal schemes. Grow it in well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
SALVIA x SYLVESTRIS (Wood Sage)
An 80cm tall perennial that has small, dark green, aromatic leaves, In summer, branched stems of violet blooms are produced. Great for adding colour and height in ornamental flowers schemes as part of a formal design. Grow this perennial in well-drained, multipurpose compost in full sun.
TULIPA (Tulip) ‘Queen of the Night’
This late spring flowering bulb has grey-green leaves, where dark purple cup-shaped flowers appear. Best to plant in groups in containers filled with well-drained multipurpose compost in full sun. ‘Angelique’ and ‘Greenland’ make good alternatives.
In this article, container plants for formal and modern schemes have been discussed. Although a lot of hedging is used, you can still use colourful plants to give splashes of welcomed seasonal colours. You are not limited to boxes or hebes but can use other shrubs to give alternative interest to hedges.
It does not matter if your preference is for a symmetrical formal schemes, or an asymmetrical, modern scheme, as the plants I suggest can be used.
If you have any questions or comments you wish to make, please do so in the comment box below.
Be asymmetrical or asymmetrical in your designs. Go crazy.