Whether you’re looking for some curb appeal or simply want to enhance your backyard, garden containers are the way to go. Just ask Colleen Wilberding, owner of Pretty Pots and Paths in Beverly Hills, who combined her creative background in advertising as a designer and art director with her love for the outdoors to specialize in above-ground arrangements.

As her business grew through the years, garden containers also experienced an increase in popularity, says the designer, who is known for her unique creations.

Lately, she’s been seeing more tropical flowers in outdoor settings, such as the big leaf plants that are in demand right now. “People like that unusual look from elephant ears to banana plants and bird of paradise,” she says. “Succulents are easier to use because you don’t have to water them as much. They’re a little more drought tolerant.”

Because of Michigan’s range of weather, she likes to place arrangements in quality containers that are practical for year-round use, such as iron or zinc.

In the right environment, the designer also likes to push the envelope with more colorful containers. “It might be a glazed look or something pretty that pulls everything together and makes the container an accent that’s part of the arrangement,” she says.

Some containers are more textural. “It all depends on the person. It has to really work for their home and their style,” says Wilberding.

She likes to guide her clients throughout the year. “A lot of people really can’t think past summer, but they should enjoy their containers for all four seasons,” she says.

Those who are pressed for time can use driplines. “Some people can’t get to the watering,” says Wilberding.

On occasion, she’ll fill outdoor containers with silk plants that trick the eye.

“I use faux flowers that are more realistic. They have to be right for the season and for the area,” she says. “It’s all about mixing the right plants and making it look good. A lot of the time I’ll stick with white and green because some colors get too brash.”

For instance, she might incorporate silk hydrangeas into an arrangement because they look more convincing than other varieties.

Come fall, she combines natural materials with preserved elements like eucalyptus.

As the seasons change, clients often ask Wilberding to freshen up their containers, which is when she removes the summer blooms that are struggling. Then, she might throw in some mums and a little kale for texture.

“When the weather turns, you want your arrangements to last for the shorter season,” says Wilberding who likes the fact that kale turns different colors during that time.

There’s a reason why people appreciate container arrangements. “It’s easier to have a little bit of something without going into their [garden] beds. Containers are like an extension from the indoors to the outdoors. They’re just like home decor with a different twist,” she says.

“It’s like everybody’s little garden that really makes them feel good when they see their house. It’s special to them.”

For information, call Pretty Pots and Paths at (248) 229-2112.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at

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