Even those of us with very limited outdoor space can usually find room for a container garden, whether it’s a windowbox, pots or something more unusual. Now, container gardens are moving to a new level of creativity with the trend for recycling and upcycling.
A few years ago, ‘container gardening’ might have meant sticking a few pansies or a tired tomato plant in a terracotta pot. Now, it’s time to get creative with unusual containers, colours, textures, sizes and plant choices.
Here are some ideas.
The only criteria you need to think about is ‘will it be reasonably durable outside, and can I put soil in it?!’ Spray paint an old filing cabinet in a bright colour, and use it as a planter box (trailing plants such as lobelia and fuchsias look great in the open top drawer).
Alternatively, an old, beat-up chest of drawers may no longer be of use in the house, but if you take out all the drawers and treat them with yacht varnish, they make ideal vegetable beds. Other suggestions include large old metal watering cans, stock drinking troughs, chimney pots and kitchen mixing bowls.
Depending on what your item is it may be possible to drill drainage holes in it, otherwise add a thick layer of stone chippings or broken tiles so your plants don’t drown! If you have the opposite problem and your container is too perforated (an old enamel colander, for example), you can line it with moss to help keep moisture in.
For contrast, create a bank of containers with large sizes at the back. Many plants do well in containers – some even prefer them! Climbing plants like clematis will also need a trellis, so take that into account when choosing a container. (You can get creative with your trellis, too – try the handle and spokes of an old umbrella, or reuse a walking stick.) Add in some architectural evergreens, such as maiden hair fern or Korean feather reed grass, then add summer colour with bright, easy to replace annuals and bedding plants. Mix containers of vegetables (tomatoes, rocket and lettuce) in with flowers for a visual feast.
If you think about it, having containers you can move around the garden makes a lot of sense. Not only can you move them into a sheltered or sunny position depending on the weather, you can also ‘dress’ the area of the garden you want to be in! Fix wheels to crates, use wheeled plant stands (available from garden centres), or recyle old wheelbarrows or even shopping trolleys (maybe not the tartan ones, though!).
The real beauty of container gardening is that it’s like having dozens of miniature plots inside your main garden. You can have specific containers to attract bees or butterflies, allocate a container to each family member or each season or grow flowers of only one colour, depending on your mood. Plant mint, lemon balm and citronella in containers next to your outdoor eating area to help keep insects away.
(All images: Pixabay)