Simple burst of character

CONTAINER plantings can be surprisingly difficult, the arrangement turning out overly fussy or unexpectedly flat and boring. For a simple yet striking look, we turned to Tim Fiskin, landscape designer for Roger’s Garden in Corona del Mar, who offered this low-maintenance, Asian-inspired design. Fiskin says the design makes a strong statement using few notes in the composition. “It’s bold in its simplicity,” he says. Here’s how he did it:

Step 1: Start with a wide-mouthed container that’s at least 18 inches in diameter at the top. A minimalist ceramic piece works best -- no trim or bright colors. Look for gray, slate, black or cream tones, glazed or unglazed.

Step 2: Fill the pot. For flora, start with Cordyline australis ‘Red Star’ as the center plant. This is your focal point. Surround it with eight 1-gallon Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon.’ If you can’t find the Acorus, good substitutes include Festuca ovina glauca (also called blue fescue) and Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (also called black mondo grass). Use no more than three types of plants in the same pot to maintain the modern vibe. Fill in gaps with small, smooth black pebbles, or simply leave as is.

Step 3: Maintain the look. Water two or three times weekly. For a change of pace, keep the Cordyline and switch out the surrounding grasses as desired.


--Janet Kinosian