Horse troughs feature the color and texture of perennials

The community of Old Town North Columbus is once again teaching us how to use horse troughs for cool season color and this year they are maximizing the use of texture. Ever since I retired from the University of Georgia, my son James, the color design guru for the Old Town, has kept me involved, making me feel like this is my experimentation station.

In early October, as he was planting, I thought he had pushed the proverbial edge of the husk just above the abyss. These full sun containers hold annuals, perennials, deciduous shrubs, succulents, and plants that require shade. While I’m talking about the old-fashioned horse troughs, you can do the same in your favorite containers.

Let’s go over the recipe, concepts, and thoughts for the old thriller adage, fill and spill. While it is incredibly beautiful now in November, the crescendo brought on by maturity in March and April will be like the finale of a firework display.

The thriller where the tallest plants in the troughs are the deciduous trees Double Play Sweet Corn Spirea. These have become favorites in the South with foliage that is literally the colors of candy corn. I suspect Proven winners really relied on zone 7, but we love them in zone 8 and 9 too. Although they are dazzling now, they will fade away later, returning in absolute glory. Their retreat in the tough ones will never be noticed because the other plant partners will grow and hide the twigs.

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The winter sun is magical, it makes it possible to use shade lovers who are even more dazzling when worn in the light of day. This is where I wanted to tell you about the charges before the rollovers. In the south, heucheras, also known as coral bells, do really best if protected from afternoon shade, but it’s summer. In winter, these evergreen perennials are just amazing.

The mild cool season allows shade loving plants like Dolce Cherry Truffles heuchera and Queen of Hearts brown to thrive in full sun.

Our designer used Dolce cherry truffles and Dolce wild berries. Dark burgundy red and purple foliage will contrast or complement with spirea and all other trough plants. In spring, cherry truffles will have red flowers and wild berries will have white flowers.


Another shade lover in the troughs is Queen of Hearts brunnera. These silver and green variegated heart-shaped leaves are distinguished not only by their color, but also by the distinct shape of their leaves. In spring, they will have sky blue flowers.

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Never underestimate the power of the fine leaf texture that an herb offers. Throughout the hollows there is Strategically placed sedge evergold grasses. The limbo of the variegated and wispy leaves give a special spider touch that is so colorful while also imparting an artistic touch.

There are two weirs used in the troughs. The first is the Lemon Coral sedum with its luscious foliage that will gently fall over the edge like a slow flow of chartreuse-colored lava. The final load is what everyone expects this season, Cool Wave Yellow thoughts. These will present a flower show spanning nearly 3 feet.

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I brought up the aspect of the mild winter sun here in zone 8a, but no doubt some of you think we can’t grow some of these plants because of our soil. . Keep in mind that they grow in an organically based repotting that you will use as well, which means you will escape the rigorous soil pH requirements during this cool season.

Son James will shoot all of these plants for the summer plant material exchange. I hope I will be notified and represent my Factory Rescue Service, through which I will move those in need of shade or morning sun to a new location.

The late afternoon light casts a glow on cool season horse troughs planted with Cool Wave pansies and an assortment of high contrast foliage like Queen of Hearts brunnera and Double Play Candy Corn spirea and Dolce heuchera.

Norman Winter is a horticulturalist and national garden speaker. He is a former director of the Georgia Coastal Botanical Gardens. Follow him on Facebook to Norman Winter “The Garden Guy”. See more photos and reviews of Norman Winter at

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