container gardening

There is something so cheerful about flowers and herbs peeking out of pots. Above is just a simple geranium in a pot and it’s lovely. Or I think it’s lovely.

People don’t realize however, that you don’t have to just plant every day annuals and your pots and containers. You can plant pretty much anything in a container.

For example, on my deck I have a wonderful hydrangea in a four-season planter that sits up on pot feet. Pot feet are these little lifts you can buy that keep the pot off the deck and draining better.

I also plant my vegetables that I grow in containers because my sun is limited and I have found I could grow chili peppers in pots just as easily as a raised bed.

I know people who have small and dwarf Japanese maples growing in pots and they under-plant them with things that trail like variegated ivy or vinca and so on. I have some big old and super heavy crocks I don’t want to ruin by draining so I have plastic liner plants I plant and pop in the crocks – The liners sit each on a single brick in the base of the planter which makes it easy to pull them out and drain the crock.

I also have a couple of incredibly heavy vintage cement pots that I acquired – one was a gift and one was a barn sale find. They are planted with hostas and heuchera as they are in the shade and woodland gardens.

As a matter fact I love planting planters with perennials because that means in the spring half of my work is finished and all I have to do is spruce up the pot with whatever annuals I might want to add. Or I can add nothing and let them go on their own.

This year I discovered a great trailing plant I hadn’t used before. It’s called Dichondra. Dichondra is a small genus of flowering plants in the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. They are prostrate, perennial, herbaceous plants, with creeping stems. The cultivar in some of my pots is silver and almost fuzzy like lambs ears.


Now other favorite trailing plants for containers include prostrate rosemary and creeping Jenny. I also use creeping Jenny as ground cover!

Creeping Jenny

People think planting pots and containers can be boring, and I think that is far from it. You just have to be creative. For years I had essentially, a little courtyard garden. So I planted lots of containers. I experimented with all sorts of combinations and that’s when I really started to look at British, Irish, and other European gardens.

This year I put more perennials in pots. As I previously mentioned in the shadier areas I planted hostas with heuchera, ferns, variegated and thin leaf ivy, creeping Jenny, Dichondra, day lilies, and even bacopa.

Not my container, but a lovely example of what to do.

And in sunnier spots I have also planted hostas but also traditional annuals like geraniums. I’m on a red geranium kick, and I have even combined geraniums with yarrow in a pot, and prostrate rosemary. I have also planted pots with Monarda (bee balm), traditional herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, and lavender.

Where I have changed it up this year in pots is with scented geraniums, nasturtiums, and some really cool salvias I purchased at the herbs sale yesterday I attended for the Herb Society of America, Philadelphia Unit.

The salvias and nasturtiums are all reds like the geraniums I potted up. I am on this bright color kick. Sometimes I think it is in response to having been forced to garden like I lived at Sussinghurst in England with my parents garden. My mother always had me doing shades of white and pale as if Vita Sackville-West lived with my parents. I seriously found lack of color back then restrictive, although it didn’t stop me from gardening.

Another example of all you can do with pots!

But with this garden now I still show some restraint of color as I want the range of colors to be harmonious. Except for a few ditch lilies you won’t find many colors like orange in my garden for example.

Scented geraniums are not something I can find every year and I don’t have enough room to overwinter them properly. So when I found of this year I went a little crazy. I bought some at the herbs sale yesterday and I also bought a few elsewhere. They sent I chose is rose. I really love the peppermint scented geranium but I couldn’t find any.

With all of the rest of my garden that I have to tend to, every year I say I am not going to do containers. But every year when I look at the garden before the containers are planted, it looks like the garden is missing something.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your containers. Don’t just put the predictable in your containers. Change it up. It makes it much more fun to look at. Containers give gardens that extra pop of color and texture.

Happy gardening!

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