Margaret Bush’s 6 Steps for Spectacular Container Gardens

As I mentioned in yesterday’s patio inspiration post, since I am spending so much time outside in my courtyard, I wanted to make it look a little more inviting.  And while I love nothing more than being outside on a beautiful day planting flowers, I knew an expert could better help me create the spectacular container gardens that would elevate my outdoor space. So I invited my sweet and talented friend Margaret Bush over to help me put together a couple of arrangements that will last throughout the summer.

margaret bush 01

You may know Margaret Bush from the numerous roles she has played at the Little Theater of Alexandria, but that is merely one of her many talents. She is also an artist, floral, and container garden designer. I don’t want to leave out the fact that she does tireless volunteer work, and is completely devoted to her family, not to mention she is a fabulous friend.  Needless to say she doesn’t sit still for long.

lantern vignette

There is so much more to container garden design than just arranging the plantings. I asked Margaret for some tips on the process.

1) Margaret begins with the hunt for good materials with which to work. She may visit four or five nurseries before finding all the material that she needs.  This time of year proved to be quite challenging; it is already a little late in the season and many plants are turning brown from all the heat.  But as always she managed to find some great plants to work with.


potting on gayla patio

2) Always start with a focal point.  For example, here Margaret started with the big beautiful hydrangea plant.  Then, just as in interior design, she added texture, layering, and color.  She added white Scaevola (this white flower compliments the blue hydrangea), and Swedish Ivy, which drapes nicely.  The goal is to have different heights, shades, and varying textures…again, just like interior design.

puppy and planter

In another arrangement, the focal point was an existing boxwood.  We got rid of some of the old, dried out flowers and added beautiful white begonias and more of the Swedish Ivy.


3) Start your season with new soil. Margaret recommends Miracle Grow soil mix because it holds water better and is full of nutrients.

4) As the season goes on, Margaret notes that you should deadhead your flowers. This will keep them blooming longer and allow for continued growth.

patio side view

5) It is always a good idea to turn your containers so that they get their fair share of sunshine.

6) And of course, water, water, water: it is the most important ingredient for a healthy container because plants in a container dry out more quickly than flowers planted in the ground.

Margaret has become well known for her container garden talents and has a long list of clients, so I was thrilled to become one of them.  I am so happy with my outdoor oasis and cannot wait to have my coffee out there in the morning!  Thank you, Margaret!

  • The latest from Gayla
Co-Owner | Coco Blanca
With her innate sense of style—making everything beautiful comes naturally.

Using the soothing color palette of a coconut by the sea—whites, neutrals and splashes of turquoise—Coco Blanca has created a trademark look. Her lifestyle boutique offers expert solutions for home design and women’s fashion—blending a clean, fresh, sophisticated, feel-good style.

210 South Union Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get your daily dose of all things fashion, beauty, fitness, and design. Locally sourced and locally styled!