Andrea Brunsendorf’s on Containers for the Studio Garden at Longwood

"The mantra I followed while gathering from the surplus plants was looking for green — one of the most diverse, versatile, and beautiful colors in the plant kingdom."

August 2, 2020

A few days ago, Andrea Brunsendorf of Longwood Gardens wrote an excellent post about the little Studio Garden and the plants she used to create some gorgeous containers.

I thought you would love to hear about her creative process. If you especially enjoy hearing about plant styling and putting different combinations of plants together, you will particularly enjoy listening to Andrea's post.

Be sure to read Andrea's full post for more details on the plants she loves.

Here's an excerpt:

As Longwood's Director of Outdoor Landscapes, I am very fortunate that my office opens up to a little patio known as the Studio Garden.

This 35-[square]-foot space... centers around a large elliptical concrete pad, surrounded by low stone walls to sit for lunch or lean one's bicycle against before or after it gets you around the gardens in the morning.

This beautiful little space serves as a constant reminder that the physical action of gardening is good for us … not just for our bodies, but also for our mental well-being, as it gives our minds a respite.


This morning…[as I wrote about my containers,] I was reminded of the basic human need for nurturing something like plants … and the simple pleasure that comes with it.

In early June, once all the seasonal change-outs from spring to summer have taken place… you will find me squirreling around, collecting left-over plants to switch out the Studio Garden's seasonal containers from spring bulbs to summer annuals. This year… sparked the idea of creating a calm... interesting space to rest my eyes … and ... meet colleagues for a social-distancing lunch.

The mantra I followed while gathering from the surplus plants was looking for green — one of the most diverse, versatile, and beautiful colors in the plant kingdom.

I pulled back from intense flower colors and focused on the textures, structures, and foliage of plants by combining those based on harmony and contrast. I looked at the plant's character and habit, beyond their flower color, when assembling them in pots.


I should mention that I tend to mass containers and pots together of the same neutral material and similar style but vary their sizes and shapes. For example, I utilize mass groupings of aged concrete containers and groupings of smaller terracotta pots to build my pot compositions in the Studio Garden.


In my larger container in the Studio Garden, I have the beloved silver dollar gum (Eucalyptus cinereal) with a purple-leaved shrubby spurge, Caribbean copper-plant (Euphorbia cotinifolia)... [combined with} fine-textured pheasant tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana). [This is a] grass that I miss so much from my gardening days in London, where of course, it is hardy; [but] here in Pennsylvania, in Zone 6b, we just must enjoy it during the warmer months before the extreme winter colds take it.


Honestly, I am not sure how … the pheasant tail grass from New Zealand is going to weather the high humidity combined with summer's heat on my patio, but as gardeners, we should not be afraid to experiment. Trialing new plants, growing them in different conditions, or creating 'unusual' compositions are all worthy ventures.

Sometimes a plant fails and doesn't thrive, or the impact of the intended design is not what we hoped for, but in the end, we have learned something, we have grown from that experience, and we have become more knowledgeable and skilled in our art and craft of gardening … all while enjoying that simple human pleasure of caring for plants.

This post was featured on
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Andrea Brunsendorf
Andrea Brunsendorf

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