Container Plantings

Resilience Design creates custom container plantings for homes and offices, both indoors and out. I specialize in low-maintenance and year-round interest. I work in many different themes to suit your style including edible planters, simple modern, rain garden planters, succulent pots and sometimes incorporate decorative stone work details.

Contact Mulysa to discuss your container planting project.

Miniscapes are container plantings I build with dwarf plants, ground covers and stone to create microcosms of the garden and landscape. You could also call them fairy gardens!

I have been designing tiny spaces since I was little and my sisters and I built twig villages and ‘fairy houses’ in the woods behind our house. On family camping trips we laid out elaborate little feasts for chipmunks and birds. But the particular kind of container gardens I make now have evolved from the tradition of trough gardens. I began making ‘Hypertufa Alpine Planters’ – with true high altitude species in handmade troughs – for customers of my garden design business in Minneapolis. I was inspired by interning in the rock garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and caught the English obsession of rock gardening and troughs. While working in England I visited the Hampton Court Park Flower Show and saw a beautiful booth of trough gardens. They were colorful, delightful and manageable little gardens that I could imaging being at home on any door step or patio.

In 2005 I moved to Portland and started designing for Dennis’ Seven Dees Landscaping and Garden Centers. I made all different kinds of container gardens: mixed succulent bowls,

sedum_planters.jpgsplashy tropical arrangements, pairs of formal entry planters with topiary. But the style I kept coming back to were the planters that were intricate and layered. I played with color and texture patterns and the sense of scale as I made planters that evoked certain landscapes, such as ‘the Italian countryside’ or ‘the Columbia River Gorge’. Others were garden scenes with color themes like copper/plum or blue/gold that had plants to represent trees, shrubs, flowers and groundcovers growing around steps and pathways.

I spend a lot of time hiking and looking at plants around Oregon, which influences how I arrange plants – both in containers and in residential gardens. Portland is an amazing place to work with plants because of the unique natural landscape and mild climate. The region’s horticulture industry is strong and diverse, resulting in an unprecedented plant palette to draw from. Making container plantings is a fun ways to take advantage of all that abundance, and experiment with themes on a manageable scale.


Miniscapes are perfect for people with limited garden space. They are a compact way to provide year-round interest and variety on a patio, balcony or windowsill. In larger gardens, they can be used to create a focal point through contrast of scale, or as a little surprise around a bend in a path. I think people enjoy them because they draw you in and appeal to the imagination. There are so many good reasons to garden, but a big one for me – to stop and take a breath and observe the natural world – can be fulfilled in this one pot.

Miniscapes are easy to care for because they are self-contained, and depending on the plants chosen, very low maintenance. I spend 5 or 10 minutes a week tending a planter, just picking at it with a small hand pruner to keep the faster growing ground covers in their own spaces. All of the plants are perennial (come back each year.) While the ‘trees’ are naturally very slow growing, every few years they may need to be root-pruned (as with Bonsai) to maintain their stature. Or just plant them out in the garden and rework your container into a fresh design.

These types of planters generally do best in partial sun (but can be made for any conditions.) In summer, water twice a week or so depending on the weather. Water gently with a shower- type spray head or a watering can with a rosette. Compost mixed into the soil helps retain moisture.

My planters are available only through Resilience Design, custom-made for your site. I can work with you to create a design in the container of your choice, or in a built-in planter or a bed in your garden. I occasionally teach workshops on making unique container plantings and can schedule one for your group or event.


Some of my Favorite Miniscape Plants
There are 1 to 2 dozen species in the garden scenes. Here are some.

Small conifers such as:
Dwarf Lawson’s cypress ‘Elwood’s Pillar’ and ‘Snow White’ Chamaecyparis lawsoniana varieties

Little ‘shrublets’:
Hebe Hebe ‘McKeanii’
Dwarf Rhododendron Rhododendron ‘Wren’

Small flowering plants, bulbs and grass-like textures:
Pink mossy Saxifrage Saxifraga x arendsii
Miniature sweet flag Acorus gramineus ‘Pusillus Aurea’
Scotch heather ‘Firefly’ Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’
Species tulips such as Tulipa dasystemon

Ground cover plants:
Silver mat Raoulia australis
Sedum ‘Blaze of Fulda’ Sedum spurium
Platt’s black brass buttons Leptinella squalida
Corsican mint Mentha requienii

Miniscapes in The Oregonian
Miniscapes in Portland Spaces
Container Gardening Feature in the OAN Digger magazine, April 2009 issue with interview

Container Planting GalleryMulysa_Melco_Planter_19_sm Mulysa_Melco_Planter_22a_sm MulysaMelco_Planter_20_sm MulysaMelco_Planter_21_sm MulysaMelco_Planter_22_sm MulysaMelco_Planter_23_sm MulysaMelcoPot_24_sm













































































































All content copyright Mulysa Melco 2016. Use of photos and text by written permission only.

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