Modern patio mix in a garden.

How to Create a Modern Patio Mix in Your Garden

Green is the only color used in this contemporary display, the subtle hues helping to emphasize the wonderful forms and textures of the plants. A slim vase-shaped container balances the tall spiky cabbage palm and pendent ferny foliage, while pineapple-like flowers lend an exotic touch.

When to plant: Late spring.

At their best: Early summer to early autumn.

Time to complete: 1½ hours.

You will need: Large pot – at least 18 in (45 cm) deep, broken clay pot pieces, multi-purpose soil, slow-release fertilizer.

Selection of plants to use: Cabbage palm – Cordyline australis, tobacco plant – Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’, Maidenhair fern – Adiantum capillus-veneris, Pineapple lily – Eucomis bicolor.

Prepare to plant

Prepare the pot as described in Steps 1 and 2 on How to Plant Your Plants in the Pots, but use only a thin layer of crocks at the base, because this display requires more soil to sustain it. Half-fill the container with soil, and then add some slow-release fertilizer. Water the plants well, and slip them out of their pots.

Plant up

Plant the palm at the back, and the pineapple lilies at intervals in front. Set the tobacco plants between the lilies, and squeeze in the ferns around the edge. Leave about a 2 in (5 cm) gap between the surface of the soil and rim of the pot, to make watering the container easier.

Summer care

Position your container in a sunny site but make sure it is shaded from the midday sun, which will scorch the fern. Water every other day in summer. Deadhead the tobacco plant regularly, and occasionally trim off leaves that look messy.

Winter care

These plants are borderline hardy, and will need some protection from very hard frosts; cover them with fleece or bring them indoors when bad weather is forecast. The pineapple lily will die back in the autumn, then re-emerge in spring. Only the tobacco plant is an annual, and will therefore need to be replaced each year.