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Pot Shots

The perfect potted marriage is when the right container meets the right plant and both forgive a gardener’s occasional forgetfulness. 

Here are a few of our favourite examples of potted love, seen in the gardens open for Hidden Festival of Outdoor Design this year.


Bendan Moar's design for a small inner-city space featured pots prominently. Photo - Robin Powell 


The old rules about pot collections advised uniformity: repeat the same plant in the same pot or repeat the same plant in different shaped pots. In the St Peters garden designed by Brendan Moar the rules are followed, if twisted, see above,  

next to the best shed ever were clipped buxus balls clustered together in a constellation of pots of different heights and on the front porch, where cyclamen are potted into different colours of the same pot and arranged on a retro frame.Cute eh? 



Cyclamen on white wire frame. Photo -Brent Wilson  

Out the back though, the rules are out the window, with an industrial shelving unit displaying a wide variety of plants in a menagerie of pots, some painted mad colours. We have petunia nestling in with rosemary, basil, bay with kalanchoe. It’s surprising, and it all works.


Colourful pots by Brendan Moar. Photo - Robin Powell 


The colours of the shed are picked out and repeated in painted pots displayed on the steel shelving unit. Oh and by the way how is that for a shed! Instead of putting it behind fencing or walls, Brendan hides the shed in plain sight, dressed in brilliant stripes. While the planting is an exciting combination of foliage colours, shapes and textures. 


Potted plants have a tougher time of it than those bedded down in the garden. They are either exposed to wind and full sun, or sheltered under eaves so they never get any rain. So if your attention threatens to be less than diligent, turn to succulents. This hardy family offers a huge range of choices of tough plants in colours from cream and pale jade to rich dark purple, via blue and grey and all manner of greens in all kinds of textures. Match a single sculptural form to a strong pot, as Richard Unsworth from Garden Life has done at his own front door,


Earthy pots with succulents. Photo - Robin Powell 


Or pile them in together to make a kind of succulent posy like we saw here,


Photo - Brent Wilson  


Or use them to add texture with other toughies like grasses, frangipani, chalksticks, westringia and gazanias, as designer Adam Robinson did for the Redfern rooftop he designed and opened as part of the Hidden Festival of Design.

Photo - Brent Wilson  

Apartment gardens offer a real challenge. They are mostly hot, usually windy and often uncomfortably exposed. On this Redfern rooftop Adam created a lounge room, dining room and views from the interior by focussing on practicalities and aesthetics. The original walls have been extended vertically with horizontal panels to offer protection and privacy.


Adam Robinson's Redfern roof-top garden. Photo - Robin Powell  


The heat is mitigated by a remotely operated shade sail that can be swung over lounge or dining area, and whose in-built wind sensor furls the sail when the wind gets too strong. All exterior walls were painted a deep grey, and other tones are used in the planters, pots and sofas, brightened with occasional pops of yellow.


A pop of portulaca! Photo - Robin Powell 


On the floor, textures and visually interesting tiles have been used, their copper tones picked up in the planting.


Outdoor wall tiles are all the rage right now. Photo - Robin Powell 


Plants were chosen for their hardy, low-maintenance requirements and an irrigation system through the planters mean there is little to do for the owners but invite friends over and shake the cocktails. Martini anyone?

But let's finish with a mad-potter-hatter look that, I must admit, is closer to my aesthetic, garden designer and plant lover Peter Nixon uses textured and colour to create impact in his Chippendale terrace garden. Here his rare and usual plant collection sings and the pots - well they're just odd terracotta ones along for the ride! 


Bromeliads, Coleus, aloes and Epiphyllum. Photos - Brent Wilson