Magazine article Sunset

Four Container Ideas Guaranteed to Make a Knockout Entrance

Magazine article Sunset

Four Container Ideas Guaranteed to Make a Knockout Entrance

Article excerpt


Mark Bartos

After moving to California in pursuit of movie stardom, Mark Bartos (626/791-2040) went back to school to study landscape design. His containers often combine small trees, billowy shrubs, and mat-forming groundcovers with plenty of Hollywood pizzazz.


Q: What do you choose first, the pots or the plants?

A: The pots. Their style is always driven by the setting, which includes the style of the house. The containers pictured here, for a ranch-style home with a bit of art deco thrown in, are simple and contemporary; they're large and have strong architectural shapes. But then I always prefer big pots--24-inch-diameter minimum. You need that scale to create drama.

Q: Which plants always command attention?

A: New Zealand flax, for one. I love its boldness and iron constitution. 'Firebird' is my favorite--it's a great color [red, turning bronze-orange in summer]. 'Skyrocket' juniper [Juniperus scopulorum] is very narrow and blue, and looks great flanking an entrance. Agaves give Mediterranean gardens punch, and growing them in containers restricts their size. A. angustifolia 'Marginata' is a favorite. Mexican weeping bamboo [Otatea acuminata aztecorum] has a beautiful lacy texture that creates instant serenity. Variegated Italian buckthorn [Rhamnus alaternus 'Variegata'] has the simplest of leaves but a complex, almost tortured shape. I love the contrast.

Q: Flowers never play a very important part in your containers. Why is that?

A: Choosing plants for their flowers is like picking an actor for his wardrobe. …

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