Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Contained Garden - 5 Tips for Great Containers

"Into your garden you can walk
And with each plalnt and flower talk;
View all their glories, from each one
Raise some rare mediation.
Recount their natures, tell which are
Vertuous like you, as well as fair"

John Rea, 'Flora, Ceres and Pomona', 1665

I've just spsent the afternoon in the garden weeding in preparation of the upcoming garden tour a month away. The garden look beautiful this morning. Yesterday it rained all day, that gentle soaking rain that the plants just love. This morning the garden looked as if sprinkled with diamond dust as the raindrops dripping off the plants shimmered in the newly rising sun - a simply beautiful sight. The purple spikes of the regal Lupines are now fading but in the past two days the bursting of the Poppies has taken center stage and now the Peonies are starting to unfurl. I love that the garden is an ever changing palette, when one perennial's life span is over there is another waiting in the wings to take its place.

The kitchen garden is coming to life as the beans, potatoes, varieties of lettuce and radish are pushing through the soil. The tomatoes are flowering giving promise of the heirloom varieties we will soon be enjoying (I can hardly wait). We have already been enjoying the delicious herbs adding culinary freshness to salads and other dishes.

And this year I've been trying my hand more at the contained garden. With limited space in my raised beds, I've been planting crops in pots and so far with good success. The pepper plants already have tiny peppers being formed. My tomato surrounded at the base with herbs is thriving but my other tomato with lettuce surrounding it has suffered at the paws of the squirrels and chippies but I'll try sowing the lettuce seeds. In the greenhouse I've got pots of tomatoes, potatoes and Swiss Chard. As well I have numerous pots and hanginig baskets bursting with colourful blooms like the container in the photo above which I took at Terra Nova Nursery in Oregon. Here are a few tips to help you with your contained gardens:

1. Think outside the pot - let your creative juices flow in terms of plant material and colours.

2. Consider the container - it can also bring colour to the garden and be a real focal point.

3. Don't be afraid of using perennials in your containers. If you live in cold climate like I do, simply heel in your plants in the garden in the fall and then you can reuse them next spring.

4. Group together those containers that have the same watering requirements, it will make your watering work easier.

5. Add embellishments to your containers, hidden gems that draw people into your arrangements. Canadian garden designer Thomas Hobbs is a genius at this by including glass balls, shells, and unique items in his containers. Check out his books 'The Jewel Box Garden' and 'Shocking Beauty'.
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