by Sheri Silver
Container gardening makes gardening accessible to almost everyone. Containers can be a great addition to an apartment terrace or condominium deck and even gardeners with copious beds and borders can enjoy the unique benefits that container gardening offers. Gardening in containers overcomes the challenge of less-than-ideal site conditions, allows you to experiment with new plants and can inspire “theme” gardens that might clash in your existing beds.Many homes in this area are blessed with beautiful, mature trees that create partial- to full-shade conditions in the garden. And while there are many lovely shade-tolerant plants and shrubs to choose from, perhaps you have your heart set on a plant that requires more sunlight than your garden receives. Chances are there is a sunny spot on your property that would be the perfect place for a container. This also holds true for difficult soil conditions. Container gardening allows you to custom-blend a soil mix, creating the perfect environment for a coveted plant that would otherwise not thrive in your garden’s soil.
Typically, container gardens are home to annuals only. But a window box or pot makes a perfect “trial home” for a perennial, giving you the opportunity to try a new plant before making room for it in your garden. Experiment with shrubs and grasses, too. Many shrubs – hydrangeas, spruces and roses, for example – are available in sizes that are quite suitable for a container. And ornamental grasses provide an unexpected element when taken out of the garden background and placed prominently in a large pot. Invasive plants that would overtake a perennial bed (just ask anyone who has ever planted mint or bamboo) remain well-behaved in a large container.
Window boxes and containers are also ideal for creating specialty gardens that might not work in your existing beds. A rock garden of succulents and small conifers that would be incompatible in a lush flower bed would make a striking accent in a concrete urn on your patio. A kitchen garden of herbs becomes impractical if you have to walk some distance from your house to your garden. But a window box or pot right outside your kitchen is an ideal spot for seasonal plantings of basil, oregano, rosemary and chives.
Using these guidelines, make your next visit to the nursery an opportunity to expand your range of plant choices. Containers are a great way to experiment, take chances and think “inside the box.”
“tending your garden” is reprinted with the permission of River Journal Inc., 914.631.7021
© 2006 sheri silver – fiorigarden.com