ISSUE 102  |  Winter Lights

DIY Patio Planter: Frosty Winter Whites

December 12, 2013 4:00 PM

BY Julie Chai

As someone who always seems to feel colder than everyone else, I’ll never complain about sunny skies and daytime temps that are reliably in the high 50s. But with our relatively warm, snowless Bay Area winters, it’s sometimes hard to get into the spirit of the season. So, as soon as December arrives, I love dressing my porch and patio in plants that show off shades of blue and white to create a look of frost even if we don’t actually get a dusting of snow. 

Photographs by Meredith Swinehart. Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.

Above: Clockwise from top left, a simple trio of Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’, Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana,’ and ‘Silver Dragon’ liriope is all I need to fill my pot with cool hues.

Above: If plant roots look matted when you ease the plant out of its container, use your fingers to scratch loose the surface roots.

Above: ‘Emerald Gaiety’ Euonymus has showy deep green-and-white leaves on spreading branches that will eventually reach from 2 to 3 feet tall and about as wide. You can buy a 3-gallon plant for $23 from Sooner Plant Farm.

Above: Juniper gets a bad rap, and it’s partly because people love shearing juniper into blocky hedges or other oddball shapes–just walk down your block and you’re sure to see one of these offenders. But when left to grow in their natural forms, many are quite beautiful. Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ stays low but has a far reach, topping out at just a foot high but spreading as much as 6 feet. Left untrimmed, its branches have a dense, layered look. I always find this one a bit tricky to work with because it’s super prickly–when planting it, I wear gloves (usually the extra-thick rose pruning type that cover my forearms) to protect myself from getting too scratched up. Find retailers for this juniper here.

Above: Thin leaves in creamy white painted with long green stripes makes Liriope ‘Silver Dragon’ extra dramatic, and can instantly brighten shadier spots in the garden. At 10 inches tall and up to twice as wide, it’s ideal for pots. Plants are available from Digging Dog Nursery for $7.

Above: I grew this trio in a low, wide bowl and placed the plants close to the edge so they could spill over.

Above: When set close together, the blue juniper is a gorgeous contrast to the other white-edged plants while picking up their green markings. All are evergreen, so will look good year round, though the juniper and euonymus will eventually outrow the pot and will want to be planted elsewhere in your garden, or each given its own pot.

Above: The container looks like real concrete but is actually made of a lightweight polyresin. A similarly shaped pot, the Orinoco Bowl, is available from Potted for $329.

Find more ways to dress your home and garden this month in Botanical Ice Lanterns, Holiday Decor for Small Spaces, and a Starry Night Holiday Light Display.

And for more container ideas, check out our Container of the Month gallery.