Container Gardening Ideas – Window Planters and Garden Containers

patio pots and planters

Container Gardening Ideas

Window Planters & Garden Containers – How to Find a Bargain

Towards the end of the summer lots of nursies and garden centres clear out their old stock at bargain prices. I have bought many a container at less than full price after pointing out some chip or flaw or missing bit to the salesman; after all, any such imperfection can be covered with a trailing plant. I always think that a damaged handle, for instance, takes the newness off and possibly makes a container look older and more interesting. In search of a tough and inexpensive container, I have often found something in an office equipment shop — a sensibly sized plastic wastepaper bin. These come both round and square, and if you don’t like the colour, they can be painted. Holes must be made in the bottom if for use outdoors.

Old stone sinks make marvellous containers for alpines. If the sink is rather shallow it can be made deeper by cementing irregular pieces of stone or rock all the way round the rim, or along the sides and back only so that a miniature mountain slope is formed when the sink is filled with soil or compost. Alpines need good drainage, so cover the bottom of the sink with broken crocks, not forgetting to cover the plug hole with a piece to prevent it becoming blocked with soil. Tilting the whole sink very slightly, so that the plug hole is at the lower end, is a good idea.

A simple box garden – a deep, narrow, rectangular box built of brick or stone, like a hollow wall – makes an excellent container for growing all kinds of plants. Sited close to the house along a terrace, down the drive, or to form a boundary to a lawn, a box garden can be an impressive architectural feature in the garden. I once saw such a garden used to hide the dustbins of a block of flats. Apart from the open planting area at the top, the wall can have small openings or crevices in its vertical surfaces to take trailing plants.

Though I have talked about window planters, tubs, and so on, I take plant containers to mean almost anything which can be planted up, looks decorative or interesting, and can withstand the weather. One of my favourites in this category is my little Victorian child’s wheelbarrow, which makes a charming setting for mixed spring flowers and summer pansies. Every winter it is carefully emptied, dried out, and given a fresh coat of wood preservative. Before refilling and replanting in spring it is lined with a sheet of plastic to help protect the timber.

Real garden wheelbarrows, especially the now extremely old-fashioned wooden kind, make excellent containers, with the great additional advantage that they are easy to move around. A barrow which has seen its best days after years of ordinary garden use can go into honourable retirement, like one which for many years I saw brought out each season and proudly placed on its owner’s front lawn, suitably planted up. It signalled the beginning of summer for me. Incidentally, making drainage holes seems unnecessary – old wooden wheelbarrows always leak!

patio pots and planters Mobility is, to my mind, one of the particular joys of container gardening. We can move things around the garden or patio as the whim takes us. Containers whose plants are at their best can go into prominent positions, while those which have gone out of flower are moved out of the limelight. Lillies just breaking bud may be a feature one month, a scarlet rose in a tub may take over the star spot the following month, and so on.

Always aim for the big effect if you can – garden containers planted in a meagre manner never look right. One really well-planted container will always look better than several sparse or half-empty ones. A good rule is to find tall, eye-catching subjects for the centre of the planting, trailers to flow over the edges, and in between shapes and colours to link the two. On very windy sites, however, it may be wise to keep to low-growing subjects. Very tall urns and tubs look effective with a good tuft or finial at the top – an evergreen yucca, for instance – with a simple edging round the rim of maybe, trailing fuchsias.

All containers look good when displayed on an area of paving, gravel, or stone chippings. The style of your house and garden needs to be taken into account and, of course, the cost. Just a few paving slabs, however, can be used under a group of containers to set them off without the expense of paving a larger area. Plain grey or stone-coloured slabs and chippings usually look better than the highly-coloured kinds. Picturesque and economical (if you live in an area where they abound naturally) are flints or pebbles set in concrete, and if you can get hold of enough old bricks they too can be laid as paving or built up to form simple plinths for tubs and urns.

Taking the idea of paving a little further, a paved area can become a courtyard garden, with sheltering walls of brick or garden building blocks, and the perfect setting for container gardening. The additions of a simple pool, even a fountain, can be really effective. Containers can also be set around a sunken area, so that the flowers and plants are seen almost at eye level. Difference in levels is always attractive in a garden, and containers of all kinds make it easy to achieve this.

13. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Container Gardening, Gardening Ideas, Window Boxes | Tags: | Comments Off on Container Gardening Ideas – Window Planters and Garden Containers


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