Plant Profile: Bedford Gate Containers
Last week we discussed the container displays at the Mosholu Gate entrance (the train station entrance) of the Garden. This week we will take a look at the containers that adorn the recently-opened Bedford Gate.
Bedford Gate was created in honor of the new parking garage that the NYBG built adjacent to the train station. Once you park your car in the garage, walk over the Bedford Bridge, cross the street and enter the Garden. The Perennial Garden walk, which takes you past the Home Gardening Center, Seasonal Walk, the Conservatory and the Perennial Garden, is right there. The Garden Café is also situated directly across from the Home Gardening Center. It is certainly a convenient point of entry.
While the Mosholu Gate containers are in full sun, the Bedford Gate is in a shady part of the Garden. Tall trees provide a cool canopy while rhododendrons, azaleas and variegated Japanese hakone grass create the understory planting. The containers at the Bedford Gate are two large, faux terra cotta containers. The display includes some of the annuals we discussed last week. Coleus ‘Red Carpet’ and the golden-leaved sweet potato vine named ‘Margarita’ spill over the edges of the containers. Repeating annuals in multiple container displays throughout the Garden creates a nice sense of continuity.
The interior of the container is different from the Mosholu Gate planting. The white summer snap dragons are replaced in this shady site with a spectacular caladium, or angel wings. The variety is Caladium ‘Candidum’. It is a South American native that thrives in full or partial shade, and likes moderate moisture. It has chalky, white, heart-shaped foliage with pronounced green veins. It glistens in the shade and makes the entire display pop. Its companion is Begonia Dragon Wing® ‘Red’. This shade-loving annual has grown in popularity over the past few years due to its vigorous growth, non-stop showy flowers, and seductive, glossy foliage.
The dragon wing begonia is a compact, bushy plant that grows on a shallow and fibrous root system. One of the common mistakes with begonias is to over-water them. While they appreciate moisture, most begonias require good drainage and shouldn’t be kept soggy.
This container display has nice contrast which makes it stand out in its shady site. There are the bright colors of the caladium and the dark-colored coleus. The warm colors of the begonia, coleus, and the golden sweet potato vine contrast with the cool, icy white of the caladium. There is enough contrast to make it exciting, while an equal amount of repetition makes the display balanced and unified.
This arrangement is a good reminder of how the combination of one superstar annual (the caladium) and a solid back-up cast can create a fetching visual display. Annuals are arranged in such a way that it brings out their best qualities, while complementing their neighbors. It is an important reminder for the homeowner to limit choices when selecting annuals and repeat combinations that work effectively together. As for shady sites, white and pale colors always make the display pop, while darkers colors add depth by receding into the space.