Four Season Container Gardening

There is nothing better than a well-designed container flanking the entrance to a stately home, or framing the view as you look out the window. Unfortunately for many, this beauty only lasts for a few short months in the summer. Then it’s time to pack the gardening containers away somewhere in the garage only to gather dust until the next year. Why not enjoy a pocket of color and texture year-round? In this short article, we will show you how.

Picking the right container for the right spot:

Before we talk about what goes into the containers, we need to talk about the containers. It is important to understand that a container is architectural. The container you choose needs to complement the surrounding environment. If you have a rustic craftsman on Walloon, it probably isn’t a good idea to put a Victorian glazed container with frilly trim on the porch. It is also important to understand what material needs to be used if you plan on taking advantage of four season container gardening. Vidosh North can help you select the right container for the right location.

Porch Container Gardening

Making the container gardening season last throughout the year:

We work in the beautiful area of summer homes and resort communities. Our summers are simply spectacular—almost iconic. Our autumn is ablaze with color as the maple forests shed their leaves. Our winters are long. Deep snow makes for great ski weekends. Our spring time is stunning with trillium blanketing the forest floor. Many of our clients are seasonal residents. They spend the summer here and only visit during the off season. We do have many clients who spend the autumn here to enjoy the bright fall colors, or come for an extended period to enjoy the holidays surrounded by a spectacular winter wonderland. When we approach the design of containers, it is vital that we understand how a client will be using the property. If our clients plan on spending time in the home during the off season, we need to plan appropriately.

Seasonal Container by Vidosh North

It is important to have a plan. We begin planning our container designs months before installation. We work with vendors to have unique quality material custom grown to our specifications. For great custom summer containers, we design in the fall. We order and pay for custom material as the first snowflakes begin to turn the Petoskey region into a Norman Rockwell painting. The most important lesson we have learned in the years of designing and installing custom containers is to have a plan. We are in a somewhat remote location, and winging it is not an option.

When setting up containers for the first time, we try and understand how the location will be used. It is important to design a container with year round structure if the client intends on spending holidays in the north. The structural centerpiece of a container can be a formal upright boxwood, or a bright foliar shrub. The centerpiece can also be seasonal cut branches. We often use different twigs for each season to add height and whimsy to the containers. Some clients really enjoy watching us harvest twigs and accents from their landscape to install into the containers. We also source out unique cut accents from wholesale florist suppliers nationwide.

When designing containers, it is important to keep it fresh. Everyone knows someone who has a container with geraniums, spikes, and ivy. You can pick out one of these at Walmart. To have a custom-designed container, you need to be constantly researching new material. Each year there are hundreds of new shrub and perennial varieties introduced to the market place. We spend significant amounts of time researching plants both for the landscape and for containers. Here are some great new plants available through our partners at Proven Winners.

Container Gardening

Breaking down the principles of Container Design:

There are some basic design elements that if followed can result in beautiful containers. There is a simple formula for making a container beautiful in any season. A basic formula of Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers can help a novice achieve a well designed container. It takes practice to have a truly spectacular container garden. We have been designing and installing four seasons of containers for fifteen years. We are learning, researching, experimenting.


This is the center of the container. It needs to have structure, it needs to be height proportionate. A thriller can be a tree, shrub, perennial, twigs, branches, logs, or even a wrought iron trellis. Creativity leaves very few limits with what you can use for a thriller. Without this centerpiece, a container looks flat.

Container Gardening Thriller


Fillers are what makes a container. Most often a filler is the dominant flowers in the container. A filler can also be a foliar annual or perennial. Without the filler, you loose the full layered look to the design.

Container Gardening Filler


Without spillers, a container feels cold. Spillers soften the edges and extend the layered design. There are many choices when considering spillers. Most are a vine, whether foliar or a spreading form of a flower.

Container Gardening Spiller

If you follow these simple steps, you can build beautiful containers that can be updated each season to give your home or place of business a fresh look all year. If you prefer to leave this up to the professionals contact us for a consultation and design of your seasonal containers.