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Three pots with flowers in a container garden.
<p>This trio of terra-cotta boxes overflows with candytuft and marigolds.</p>

This trio of terra-cotta boxes overflows with candytuft and marigolds.

Photo by Saxon Holt

Whether you have acres of space or a tiny courtyard, container arrangements add color and character to your garden. So, here are 10 garden plans, all designed by Violet Johnson, owner of Coyote Garden Center in Morgan Hill, California. Each selection, which is designed for a 12-gallon container, uses readily available varieties that will flourish in most parts of the country as annuals. The right column indicates the coldest zone for these choices as perennials. Our first combination is great for busy gardeners who need hardy plants that can withstand a little benign neglect.

Low-Maintenance Favorite

Put this combination in a well-drained, sandy soil mix and a sunny location, and it will thrive even with very little watering.

What Plants?

How Many?

Hardy to Zone:

Oleander

Nerium 'Petite Pink'

1

8

Catmint

Nepeta x faassenii

2

4

Osteospermum

Osteospermum 'Whirligig'

1

8

Ivy Geranium

Pelargonium peltatum 'Red Cascade'

3

9

For additional information on zones, go to www.usda.gov or www.arborday.org. For more information on the Coyote Garden Center, visit www.coyotegardens.com or contact Violet Johnson at 408-463-0439.

<p>The hardiness zone map divides the country into regions based on temperature.</p>

The hardiness zone map divides the country into regions based on temperature.

National Arbor Day Foundation <a href="http://www.arborday.com" target="_blank">www.arborday.com</a>

Sunny Spaces

These three combinations are great candidates for the sunniest spots around the house.

The Tall and Short of It

The mixed heights and colors of this combination make for an especially pleasing display. Use well-drained soil to keep plants happy.

What Plants?

How Many?

Hardy to Zone:

Delphinium

Delphinium elatum 'Blue Bird'

1

3

Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta

1

3

African Lily

Agapanthus 'Rancho White'

1

8

Salvia

Salvia x superba 'May Night'

2

4

Cat Thyme

Teucrium marum

1

9

Madwort

Alyssum montanum

1

7

High Drama

Plant this colorful combination in moist, rich soil and provide ample watering.

What Plants?

How Many?

Hardy to Zone:

Phormium

Phormium 'Rainbow Warrior'

1

8

Chinese Fringe Flower

Loropetalum 'Burgundy'

1

7

Daylily

Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro'

1

5

Diminutive Pleasures

Give this combination a bed of well-drained soil, and trim older Phormium leaves to maintain shorter growth.

What Plants?

How Many?

Hardy to Zone:

Dwarf Golden Arborvitae

Thuja orientalis 'Aurea Nana Berckmanii'

1

6

Japanese Garden Juniper

Juniperus procumbens 'Green Mound'

1

2

Phormium

Phormium 'Jack Spratt'

1

7

Afternoon Shade

These combinations do best when they get gentle morning sunlight, with afternoon shade to protect them from the harshest rays.

Ornamental Shrub

This shrub bears delightfully fragrant flowers that vary in color as they age. Plant in well-drained soil, keep moist, and protect from frost.

What Plants?

How Many?

Hardy to Zone:

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Brunsfelsia Australis

1

9

Million Bells

Calibrachoa 'Trailing Blue'

3

8

Nemesia

Nemesia 'White Innocence'

3

8

Spotted Deadnettle

Lamium maculatum 'Orchid Frost'

2

4

An "English Cottage" Look

Enjoy an explosion of color with this combination. Plants require well-drained, organic soil; keep moist, and deadhead regularly. Use the impatiens and lobelias as filler plants for a lush look.

What Plants?

How Many?

Hardy to Zone:

Fuschias

Gartenmeister (upright)

Snowburner (trailing)

1 each

9

Tuberous Begonias

Red (upright)

Yellow (trailing)

1 each

10

Plectranthus

Plectranthus coleoides 'Veriegata'

1

9

Double Impatiens

Impatiens wallerana 'Victorian Rose'

2

1 (annual)

Bacopa

Sutera cordata 'Snowstorm'

1

9

Torenia

Torenia hybrid 'Summer Wave'

1

8

Trailing Lobelia

Lobelia erinus 'Regatta Rose'

Lobelia erinus 'Regatta Blue Splash'

3 each

1 (annual)

Impatiens

Impatiens wallerana 'Elfin Mixed'

6

1 (annual)

Year-Round Glory

These combinations were chosen for their ability to delight in every season.

Ornamental Tree

This variegated holly provides year-round interest. Plant a companion male plant in the yard to ensure bright red berries in winter. Add spring bulbs in winter, overplanted with white cyclamen. Follow with any mix of summer annuals in late spring. Plant in well-drained soil, with high organic (manure or guano) content. Choose a sunny location in cool climates, and light shade otherwise.

What Plants?

How Many?

Hardy to Zone:

English Holly Standard

Ilex aquifolium 'Aurea Marginata' (female)

1

6

Ivy

Hedera helix

3

5

Acid Dwarfs

Use azalea potting soil with high acidity for this short-stature combo. All three plants are dwarf varieties; the Skimmia is self-fruiting.

What Plants?

How Many?

Hardy to Zone:

Japanese Skimmia

Skimmia japonica reevesiana

1

7

Gardenia

Gardenia 'Radicans Verigata'

1

8

Azalea

Rhododendron Robin Hill 'Watchet'

1

6

Sweet Smell of Success

Keep these two combinations close at hand to enjoy their delightful fragrance.

Mixed Colors
This aromatic combination requires well-drained soil. Be sure to give it partial shade in hot areas.
What Plants? How Many? Hardy to Zone:
Cherry Pie
Heliotropium arborescens
1 9
Helichrysum
Helichrysum thianschanicum 'Icicles'
3 6
Swan River Daisy
Brachyscome 'Moonlight'
3 9
Verbena
Verbena tamari 'Bright Red'
3 4


Lattice Climber
These sweet-scented flowers require rich, well-draining soil as well as protection from the sun. Keep moist in a shady location. Use a support structure for the hydrangea, and cut back when dormant.
What Plants? How Many? Hardy to Zone:
Climbing Hydrangea
Hydrangea petiolaris
1 5
Sweet Violet
Viola odorata
5 4