5415 Peninsula Dr. SE
Olympia, WA 98513


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Winter Container Gardens




Specializing in Container Design and Garden Art

Container gardens offer opportunities for drama and interest by adding color and plant variety to your existing landscape. Barrels, sculpted pots and elegant urns add texture, visual impact and a bit of whimsy without having to redo your entire landscape. Dandelion Gardens specializes in container design and garden art. I have hundreds of ideas to fit your budget.


Below are samples of my container garden designs, click an image for a larger view.


Winter Container Gardening

These are container grouping planted for the winter. You’ll notice that I removed the sweet potato vine and summer flowering annuals and added moss and pansies to the containers. I’ve also added a fern, removed the boxleaf honeysuckle and planted a dwarf conifer in the large rectangle shaped pot. This container grouping is in full shade, the most difficult of container situations to successfully plant and maintain. Even shade loving plants typically don’t thrive in full shade conditions, so more plant maintenance/removal is needed. The honeysuckle was looking tired and stressed, so it needed to be replaced.

These containers shows how you can successfully utilize some of the same plants in a container for year round interest. Too often, people think that containers are to be enjoyed from just May to September, when you can actually successfully container garden all year. The large container (middle and right) has a dwarf conifer for its thriller/focal point plant and three black mondo grasses (fillers) planted around it for the basic structure. For the summer, I added white geraniums, yellow million bells, and miniature white daisies as additional fillers and spillers. By the end of the summer, the little white daisies had become a little too happy in the pot, but it was certainly a gorgeous focal point on the sidewalk. For the winter, I removed the summer annuals and planted yellow winter pansies, yellow Irish moss, and yellow variegated ivy. I’m not a huge ivy fan, but it makes a good winter trailer and can be removed and properly disposed of in the spring when I’m ready to change out the container again.

I planted numerous containers for a customer this summer.  I revisited the containers in November to update them for the winter.  I was able to use the basic structural plants and just make a few changes. 

This oxblood red container (with a touch of yellow/gold) has a Gulf Stream nandina as the structural plant with Black Mondo grass on either side of it and a bergenia in the center.  The bergenia will turn red in the winter and revert to green in the summer.  Its large leaves provide a wonderful foliage contrast to the small leaves of the nandina, mondo grass, and moss.  The yellow pansies and yellow moss provide great winter color and interest. 

This large red container has a Lemon Beauty boxleaf honeysuckle planted as its thriller with Red Tip podocarpus planted on either side of it, Black Mondo grass in the center and Mother Lodge juniper planted in front.  Yellow winter pansies are planted on either side of the juniper.  The juniper will cascade over the front of the pot and it, along with the pansies will provide bright color for the winter.  These plants also repeat some of the yellow/gold showing on the red container and in the honeysuckle’s foliage.  The Black Mondo grass provides a great color and foliage contrast

click to enlarge






oxblood red container garden 




lemon boxleaf honeysuckle


Accent Containers

Using stylish containers to accent your space really helps break up the monotony and adds interest to what might be an overlooked area of your property. Choosing the right colors, textures and plant groupings make all the difference.

Laurie and Dan have a large brick house and patio in Olympia. They are in the midst of a large renovation, but wanted some containers for color and interest near their entry along with some on the back patio. Brick homes can be a challenge for container selection and planting because the brick pattern is busy and it’s difficult to select an appropriate container color. We decided to plant a grouping of black containers at the entrance and more dramatic, red containers on the back patio. The red really added some wonderful color to the back patio and repeated the red color of their existing Adirondack chairs.

By tying in the colors used in the renovation and the existing outdoor furniture, we achieved a complimentary look that added elegance and warmth to their space. Laurie and Dan were very happy with the outcome as this area became a little sanctuary during their bigger remodel project where they could sit back in the lawn chairs next, admire the plants and take in the new additions being doen to their home.


Monica and Greg had recently converted their two car garage to a family room. The new family room was wonderful, but they were now left with a driveway to “nowhere” and a large, boring space in front of the family room.

In order to provide interest to the window wall, I broke up the space by placing a new table towards the right, anchored by a large rug. I then placed a large grouping of containers on the left, with a smaller group by the table.

The black and terra cotta colored containers picked up the color of an existing black decorative bench. I completed the design by buying accent pillows to repeat the colors and soften the space.


Container Grouping

A customer purchased this group of aqua blue pots from me and planted them as a focal point in her backyard.  She utilized a colorful combination of geraniums, heucheras, sweet potato vine, licorice vine, coleus, begonia, and grasses to brighten up a boring, dark space in her landscape. 


aqua teal pot grouping

A customer purchased this wedge shaped purple container from me and planted it as a focal point for her entry.  The interesting shape and color of the container immediately draw the eye, but the exciting plant combination of creeping jenny, bacopa, supertunias, etc. really makes it a winner. 

wedge container

Erin and Ian asked me to plant nine existing containers. After looking at their small containers and their large terrace, I recommended that large containers be added to provide the correct scale.

 I then arranged the containers so that there was one large container and two small containers in each of three groups along with one group of three small containers on the terrace edge. Flax was planted in each of the large containers with rainbow rock added to cover the exposed soil.

The smaller containers were planted with small shrubs, annuals, herbs, and tomatoes. The large containers planted with flax provided continuity for the individual groupings.

By assessing Erin and Ian's existing plantings and implementing the larger containers, their outdoor space took on a whole new personality with the enhanced grouping.


Joy had a long, vertical staircase from her driveway to her front door. The space was boring, so she had already purchased several containers to break up the space and wanted me to plant them for her. I recommended we add another container to her existing ones, and then I planted colorful shrubs and grasses that repeated some of the colors and textures she already had in her landscape.

Marilyn has a lovely terrace and patio on Puget Sound. There are several large container groupings and we wanted to update the plantings to provide more year round color and interest. I planted lime-yellow dwarf conifers to provide a sharp contrast to the red pots, and then added black mondo grass for even more contrast. The container was completed with some yellow winter pansies and a hebe for even more visual interest and texture.

If you have a home with a view, it's always nice to develop layers of visual interest that compliment the surroundings and the view beyond. Sometimes these layers can also be used as buffers that provide seclusion as well as a textured viewpoint.

Skip and Gloria have a beautiful home and large deck on the Sound. They also enjoy their deck but didn’t have as much privacy as they wanted because a home was built next door with a pool and the accompanying activity. I recommended a large collection of containers be utilized along the deck edge to act as a privacy screen.

Container / Urn Fountains

Amy and Michael tackled a major exterior renovation by installing a new driveway surface, a new entrance with columns, a new welcoming stairway to the front door, and a new retaining wall. The small planting bed created in the area between the driveway and front door needed to be spectacular without hiding the front door. We installed an urn fountain and colorful plants to really draw your eye to the entry.

Using a fountain as a focal point near your homes entrance can add the ideal welcoming accent to your home. Some container fountains are "contained", they offer ease of use, minimal maintenance, portability and flexibility to your space without the commitment of a built in water feature. Other container fountains let the water flow gracefully over it's edges to a recirculation pump and well underneath for that "seamless" look.


Dandelion Gardens Container Fountain





More Container Garden Samples

Here are a collection of containers I've planted over the years for clients. Click the image to enlarge and enjoy! If you see something you like incorporated into your landscaping, don't hesitate to call at (360) 455-9164 or email at cathy@dandeliongardens.com.