To make a winter garden of interest, I look for themes to let my planting design start to tell a story.
First came the planter found in the clearance section of Anthropologie. It's markings seemed tribal and recalled mud cloth patterns and fabrics, traditional in Mali, but often used in high fashion and homewares. Mudcloth, also called bogolan or bogolanfini, is cotton dyed with fermented mud. 'Bogo' means earth or mud, 'Lan' means with, and 'Fini' translates cloth. Its patterns tell cultural stories that I don't fully understand.
Inspired by these patterns and the intricate face paintings seen across tribal Africa, I chose plants for their contrasting tonal stripes, surprising leaf speckles and detailed patterns.
The result is a beautiful - if slightly challenging - winter container garden that you can plant indoors. All of these plants prefer indirect sun and high humidity. (With the exception of the sansevieria - but it is tough and it puts up with just about anything). Keep this combo moist and make sure the soil drains well - maybe even add a cloche over the top and don't insist that live in the sunniest window - it will not be happy there.
Fittonia verschaffeltii ’mini’
Also known as nerve plant, these small tropical houseplants are known for their beautiful leaves. They are great in areas of low light and high humidity. A terrarium is perfect.
Begonia ’My Special Angel’
Similar to the begonia maculata var. wightii, this begonia also develops speckled leaves. It has pink flowers and matching pink leaf undersides. It is also easier to grow and is much less temperamental.
Begonia maculata var. wightii
This begonia is festive and eye-catching with its bright white flowers and matching polka dot leaves. They are great gift plants. This is however a tricky plant to grow. It needs good drainage and good light - but I have found it prefers indirect light or partial sun rather that full sun. In the summer, it is very happy to move outside and grow in a container beneath other houseplants that shield and protect it.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Bantel‘s Sensation'
This unusual plant is indestructible. Sanseveria need little light and are very drought tolerant. This variety has distinctive while striping and the leaves are narrower than other varieties giving it a very elegant look.
All plants available by mail order at Logees.com
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