Container Gardening: Creating Whimsy

By Misty Kuceris, Horticulturalist ©2019

I often hear this question from customers and clients: What’s all this excitement that I hear about container gardening and why is that important?

Container gardening isn’t just the next new craze in gardening. It’s a wonderful way to increase your gardening space and add whimsy to your yard. Whether you live in a large space with a lot of land or a small condo, townhouse, or apartment where you only have a patio, you can create an incredible garden in that space by planting in containers.

What’s even better is that you can grow any plant in those containers: annuals, perennials, vegetables, even trees or shrubs. Just imagine; having an edible garden with vegetables and herbs on your deck or patio, just outside your kitchen.

Container gardens come in all different sizes and shapes. And you can place them anywhere you want. I’d like to share some of my favorite container gardens which I’ve either seen or planted myself.

Here you have a traditional container where you have tall plants, such as ferns, surrounded by New Guinea inpatients, and Vinca Major (a vine) cascaded down the sides of the pot. This pot is at the entrance of a driveway, giving you a wonderful welcome when you come home.

A semi-traditional look is one where you use the plants for both height and spread. In this case, this pot is planted with begonia and creeping Jenny cascading over the sides of the pot. Originally this pot was a fountain that now longer work. Rather than fix the fountain, the person decided to create a container planting that is now the focal point of a garden. It makes a great statement.

The Mandevilla plant is a fast-growing tropical plant that won’t survive the winters in Northern Virginia. But they make an amazing display during their growing season. In this case, string was applied to a pole and the Mandevilla plant grew up the string in one season. You really can’t see it in this picture, but the pole is set in a pot. So, if you wanted to, you could get a pot, fill it with topsoil, place a stick in the center, and create the same look for either your garden or your patio.

My favorite project this past growing season was this creation where I used sand pails, filled them with horticultural charcoal and potting mix, and planted annuals that I attached to the trellis with S-hooks. While this trellis is in my garden, you can also put the trellis in a large pot, such as a whiskey barrel filled with topsoil and place this piece of whimsy on your patio.

One of the most amazing container gardens I’ve seen is this one with topiary boxwoods and a pine shrub in the back with a hydrangea plant as well as other potted plants in front of the shrubs. You can’t see that this is a container garden from this picture, but just look at a side view of this same area.

From this side view you can see that all the plants and shrubs are still in pots. The individual found some wonderful logs to place in front of the pots so they can’t be seen from the front. Space was limited in this area and the person couldn’t dig up the concrete so this was his solution.

There is no limit to what you can use as containers and what you can plant in them. The only limitation is your imagination. I’ve seen people use potting mix bags, purses, wheel barrels, children’s toys, and so much more. The key to success is to let your imagination take over and realize there are no space barrios when you want a garden that brings beauty into your life.

Container Gardening: Creating Whimsy in Your Garden aired on Fairfax Public Access on October 3, 2019. In that show, you learned how to plant my favorite trellis garden as well as other techniques for container gardening. You can now view the show on YouTube. Just go to Container Gardening: Creating Whimsy in Your Garden.

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