I'm not usually a subscriber to the "thriller, filler, spiller," container garden design theory. While it is popular and sometimes useful, I think that it has lead to a lot of containers that look the same, with one spikey plant in the middle, some "filler" type plant (something that fills in the space in the middle of the pot) and then a "spiller," which spills over the side of the pot.
That said, after designing this pot at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, I realized that, thriller, filler, spiller is what I ended up with, and I think it's pretty successful.
First of all, the four Lunaform pots that we were filling were enormous and needed something really big and bold so the pot wouldn't dwarf the plants. When I saw the big red banana plants (Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii') in the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens greenhouse, I fell in love and knew that they would look fabulous in the huge containers. Then we had to figure out what would go with these behemoth plants, which can grow more than 12 feet tall.
Fortunately there were some beautiful upright fuchsias ('Gartenmeister Bonstedt') nearby that looked like they would bring out some of the reds and pinks of the banana plants. We then added a red nemesia ('Serengeti') to fill in the space between the soil and the height of the fuchsia. We also added two varieties of sweet potato vine, to add some bright popping color and to hang over the side of the pot to show off it's beautiful patina.
We used the classic 'Margarita' sweet potato vine for its large leaves and draping qualities and added some 'Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Light Green,' for it's bright colored leaves which have also a redish margin which fit with our existing colors.
This container garden design was a cooperative effort between myself and floral designer, Liz Micheels, of Artful Blooms in Newton, Mass. With help and advice from Bill Cullina, Director of Horticulture/Plant Curator for Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.