Slowly but surely my new office is taking shape. The hardest part for me is always the finishing touches. I still need to find, load-up and style the bookshelves, sort through a pile of paper that needs to be filed in my less than adequate system (dread!!), recover the sofa, and hang some more pictures. I have however finished one corner, and it is helping me to stay on track to finish the rest.
Plants are (of course) featuring prominently in my office as the general design notion is something along the lines of ‘mid-century industrial botanist’ and the very cool new funnel planter from Modernica is helping to bring it all together perfectly.
I fussed and fretted over the just right plant for the container. My original plan was to use lemongrass (and I might still switch it out later this summer when the whole thing moves outside). The tapered vase shape seemed a perfect complement to a full vase-shaped plant that would continue the elegant ‘V’ lines right up and out the top. But alas – it is March and bitter cold here in New England; most nurseries remain closed, mail order in this frigidity is out of the question – and I am impatient.
I opted instead for an interesting Phlebodium aureum ‘Blue Star’ fern. I am slightly obssessed with it’s hairy knuckes and silver blue coloring.
At first it wasn’t working because I didn’t have it up high enough. Sunk too deep in the container, the branches were too clustered and its natural shape was compromised. I experimented with other plants – like a lemon tree and a Clivia (which were both ok options too) – before I realized my issue with the fern was its placement in the pot.
It is the natural law of thirds that my eye seems particularly sensitive to. Once I put a larger lift underneath the fern (inside the pot in the form of a bigger, empty, upside-down container) the whole thing suddenly worked. Now the plant is the top one-third of the whole composition and the base (pot and legs together) comprise the other two-thirds. The rules of thirds…it always works – here are a couple more tips for coordinating pots and plants.
1) Observe the lines of the container and try to accentuate them. In this case, the vase is continued in dramatic form with a vase-shaped plant.
2) It isn’t a hard and fast directive, but keep in mind the rule of thirds, which is good to apply to visual compositions in general. The idea is to visually break down what you are looking at (in this case, a container planting) and imagine a 3 by 3 grid of boxes over the entirety of it. The main elements of the visual image will be more arresting if they fall near those one-third lines. So, for example, if you are planting in a container a tall grass that will ultimately grow to 4 feet, then you might consider a 2-foot tall pot, which will give you a composition in which one-third is container, and two-thirds is plant. Or perhaps you have a taller container and you want to plant dangling plants; the length that they hang down might fall at a one-third line. You can invert this and also play with the horizontal impression, too.
3) Use contrasting texture and color for interest. In some ways, I think the Phlebodium might be better than the lemongrass. The smooth wood and matte black container would look great with the strappy grass, but the silver blue fronds with their finger-y shape are a bit more exciting. Plus the unexpected surprise is how nicely it plays with my minty green supply cabinet.
Images: Rochelle Greayer
This post was sponsored by Modernica.