Last year, Kara just happened to be at Lowe's at just the right time. One of the managers was marking things down in the garden department and the prices were negotiable. She picked up several great things, one of which was a large styrofoam container. She got several of them for five dollars each, and I bought one from her.
This thing is bigger than any other pot I've tried to fill and for me, putting together an attractive container full of plants is akin to landscaping. It's just not something I do well. I was pleased, however, with how it turned out last year and this year I tried to duplicate my combination somewhat, but I like last year's better.
First of all, I didn't want or need to fill that big pot entirely with potting soil. I placed a drainage tray down in it and its diameter was of a size that allowed it to stop about two-thirds of the way down into the pot. Then I added some stones for drainage and started potting things up.
I wanted something tall in it as a focus feature, so I got a small smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria), then surrounded it with coleus. For vining down around the edges, I chose sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), one in purple and one in green variegated. I added asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri') as fluff to tie in the height of the coleus with the trailing of the sweet potato vine, and it provided a different texture as well, although it now isn't even visible much, due to the proliferation of the coleus. There's a helichrysum (Helichrysum thianschanicum 'Icicle') for a different color, towards the back.
Last year, I did much the same thing, except I also had some fiber optic grass (Isolepis cernua) toward the front. Halfway through the summer, that wasn't doing so well, which is the same experience I'd had with it in the ground the summer before, so it eventually got torn out and I didn't use it this year. I love it, but I haven't figured out how to keep it looking good all summer long.
In the fall, when it's time to dismantle the container, I'll plant the smoke tree in the garden for overwintering and use it again next year. It doesn't grow all that much while in the container, nor while it's wintering in the ground, so I'll probably get a few more years' use out of it this way.
The base plants in this year's pot have grown quite large, while the smoke tree hasn't, and it doesn't look proportioned right to me. Also, this year's is missing that pop of the lime green coleus.
There are many things I can do if I have a recipe or a picture I can copy, but I lack the creativity to come up with something on my own. Maybe that will come in time, with experience, or I can just call my Mom whose pores are oozing with talent in that department and let her design my planter.