Since I had to come up with a perennial planter design, I figured it would only be just and fair to come up with an annual planter design.
I think that annuals are more showy then perennials, probably because they have just one year to be all that they can be to attract whatever pollinator they need in order to produce seeds for the birds to eat and spread around. Whatever the reason, an annual plant is really a lot of flash for a season.
I again looked for plants that did not need a lot of watering and could withstand a bit of drought. I wanted some yellow - to discourage deer from eating them. And, of course, I wanted the three-layers of plants (spiller, filler and thriller) to move your eyes around the planter which lets you get the overall effect of the display instead of getting stuck on just one plant.
So here's what I came up with:
Starting at the bottom with the spiller, these vines will be the base color for the display. I'm starting off dark here so they will "ground" the planter and make it seem a bit more substantial. The movement of the vines when the wind blows will make it dance a bit. They'll go around the pot about 4-inches in from the edge.
Ipomoea - Sweet Potato Vine
Because I chose the black/purple sweet potato vine for the bottom, I wanted to give it a little flash of color. Even though this next plant won't really grow very big by the time the season ends, that smaller stripe will make for a nice bit of interest in the planter as well as tie in the colors of the plants above. Also plant these about 4-inches from the edge of the planter, mixed in between the ipomoea.
Lysimachia - Creeping Jenny
Now we move up to the filler. First I wanted to brighten up the black/purple of the ipomoea and bring out the reds. Second I wanted a lot of blossoms. Third, I wanted a plant that would fill down and blend with the vines as well as fill up to blend with the thriller plant. Fourth, I didn't want to have to deadhead the flowers as they died. Plant this about 8-inches back from the edge of the pot.
Million Bells - Calibrachoa 'Super Scarlet'
Again, I needed a contrast plant for the red of the calibrachoa. I decided to play off of the yellow in the lysimachia and the yellow centers in the calibrachoa. I needed something a bit higher. I also wanted something that was a bit more circular. The lysimachia is sort of round, the calibrachoa is round, now I want something really round. And yellow. Plant this about 8-inches back from the edge of the planter.
Shrub Verbena - Lantana camara 'Samatha'
Finally, the thriller. This is the topper for the display. It has to be showy, but blend the other two layers together. Since the strongest color in the display is red, I want something red for the thriller. It also has to be the tallest thing in the planter. And I want it to pull in the foliage from the rest of the plants (in addition to pulling in the color), so I want it to be spiky.
Mexican Bush Sage - Salvia leucantha
The bright fuschia purplish-red color will bring in both the ipomoea and the calibrachoa. The spikey blooms and foliage will echo the split leaves on the ipomoea and will be lacy enough to make the calibrachoa foliage not seem like a big brick in the middle of the display. For the planters that get less sun, the foliage will turn a bit silvery and the color will be a bit more pink than fuchsia. Plant this in the middle of the pot.
These plants will do pretty well if we have a dry spell this summer. They won't need watering everyday - even in really hot dry temperatures - and they won't look all wilty. They will move in the breeze created by cars going past them, not breaking. They do alright in shade for those planters without a lot of sun.
I think this is going to be a good display. Now I just have to wait 6 more weeks until I can plant it.