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10 Reasons Why You Should Start A Container Garden

alt="Vintage style container garden"

Recently, a customer was telling me about a torrid year she'd endured, she had suffered not only a period of ill health but had also moved house a number of times in quick succession. The point she was making was that her container garden had been a constant throughout this time, providing both interest and colour that traveled with each move. Needless to say the Lady was purchasing a zinc garden planter to add to her collection.                                                                                                                                                                                              alt="Antique garden trough planter planted with herbs"

Container gardens are becoming increasingly popular and the term Container Garden is applicable to a vast range of size and style of garden. Garden planters are a really accessible form of gardening for both the experienced gardener and for those of us who are less than green fingered. There are many reasons why you should consider creating a container garden and here are  my 10 reasons why you should make a start.

alt="Garden planters either side of a freshly painted front door"

1. Creating a smart entrance                                                                           

    There are no two ways about it, adding well maintained plant containers to a front or back door instantly smartens the entrance; as the estate agents say it adds "doorstep appeal". Garden pots can be strategically placed to hide such as drainpipes and grate covers, whilst also creating a pretty focal point. Decide on your style of entrance and select the design of container and planting style to compliment the look. Door step containers can be an ever changing picture: Christmas trees lit with outdoor fairy lights in December, Spring flowering bulbs in March and so on. 

    alt="Antique garden planters planted with box"


     2.  A movable garden                                                                            

    If you are renting, a collection of garden planters is the easiest way to create a garden that can then move with you. There is a common misconception that container gardens have to be small, this is not necessarily the case. The garden at Great Dixter demonstrates the versatility of the container garden, the pots here are reshuffled throughout the Seasons to create an ever changing display. The team at Great Dixter plant up many containers with single different plant types, this gives the impression of a permanent border when assembled as an array. Arthur Parkinson is another example of a gardener who uses this method, he creates colour and interest within the small brick yard at his home in Nottinghamshire. His book, The Flower Yard, illustrates his garden year,  starting with Spring tulips, before moving on to Dahlias.                                     

    3.  Create a garden on a paved area                                                             

    When there isn't access to soil and instead exists a patio, balcony or back yard, planting up garden planters can offer the opportunity to soften the hard landscaping and inject colour into the surroundings. Creating a container garden on a balcony for example, can also be used to create privacy or shield a seating area from the wind. The chosen style of planter can be used to create a look. For example, if the terraced area is South facing and something of a sun trap, terracotta pots planted with lavender will doubtless thrive. While the back yard of a Victorian terrace will be enhanced by traditional zinc dolly tub planters successionally planted with tulips followed by Dahlias.                                 

    4. A temporary solution                                                                                     

    If your house is a new build or there has been extensive renovation work carried out, the soil in your new garden may be less then ideal for planting. Compaction caused by weeks of machinery and builders will require restorative measures and this takes time. Placing filled garden planters can provide a quick fix garden. The container garden adds colour and interest while putting together long term plans for the new garden. 

    5. New to gardening                                                                                  

    Taking on a garden can be a daunting task and also an expensive one. Starting with container pots offers the perfect introduction to gardening, without the pressure of maintaining a large space. Planting smaller pots is a cost effective way of getting started. Container planting is also a lovely introduction to gardening for Children. Allotting kids their own planter gives them a sense of ownership and satisfaction especially when planted with veg. Carrots, radishes and lettuce are good seeds to get children started.   


    alt="Vintage garden planter planted with kitchen herbs"

    6. Plant an aromatic herb garden                                                                

    Place your container garden close to hand and plant with culinary herbs. Herbs are an excellent choice for planting in garden pots, and there is something quite satisfying about picking your own home grown herbs and adding them to that evening's dinner. There are many different varieties to consider, but I would include: Chives, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, Dill, Rosemary and Bay for starters-  these are a really attractive combination when planted and make such a difference to any recipe. Jekka's herbs is a great place for further planting advice and to purchase seeds. 

    7. Planting a vegetable container garden                                                         

    A container garden doesn't have to be all flowers, it's surprising just how productive veg gardening in pots can be. How productive is dependent on how much planning goes into successional planting, but salad leaves are always a winner and it's worth remembering that certain planting combinations such as nasturtiums and tomatoes can offer protection against aphids whilst also creating a colourful display.Other vegetables to consider planting in containers include:potatoes, carrots, beetroot, dwarf beans, radishes, salad onions and salad leaves. For further ideas and advice try the RHS website.       
    alt="A wooden raised bed planted with lettuce"
    8.  Protecting tender plants                                                                          
    Planting tender plants in garden pots enables them to be moved ahead of the colder weather, or otherwise easily wrapped in fleece to protect such as banana plants from the frost. On a similar note, I have been known to plant young dahlia plants in containers in an attempt to protect them from the ever present slugs.                

    alt="Olive trees planted in pots on a balcony"

    9. Using garden planters for trees                                             

    Planting trees in close proximity to the house or outbuildings can be problematical, both in terms of potential damage caused to footings by roots and how much top soil is available to plant into. Planting the speciman into a container ensures both the correct growing conditions for the tree and also safeguards against structural damage to the building. Trees that grow well in containers include bay and olive, but as long as the container is large enough for your chosen tree and filled with the correct compost you can be much more ambitious. Silver birch or hornbeam are good choices, and acer's can provide wonderful colour. Local nurseries will be happy to advise.     

                                                                alt="Herbs planted into a zinc garden trough"  

    10. Creating a showcase                                                                                     

    A container garden is a fabulous way to showcase your garden. Creating the display in the right aspect of the garden for your chosen plants is the perfect way to show off your tulip display, cutting garden, container allotment or bedding plant extravaganza. For a cohesive and eye catching display try matching the containers by material: grouping terracotta pots together, a collection of different vintage zinc planters or enamel buckets and pots....and if you're unhappy with the result, simply move it around!


    alt="Shabby chic garden containers"

    This garden has a romantic look to it, the chairs are original and the antique garden planters are planted in an old fashioned way to match.



      alt="Simple vintage Dolly tub planter"

      Containers can provide all year round colour and interest and the options are endless, which are maybe reasons in themselves as to why you should plant a container garden....

      alt="Antique terracotta pot planted with viola"

      Not just for Summer, a frost proof modern clay pot, planted with pretty violas to add colour over the Winter months.

      alt="Large terracotta plant pot with Mexican Fleabane daisy"

      A larger clay pot, this time planted with Mexican Fleabane, which is a really good choice for planters, a fast growing tolerant perennial that has tiny daisy like flowers from June through to Autumn.

      alt="Garden containers planted for Christmas"

      And here, creating a Scandinavian Christmas look, combining spruce and bay with Winter candle holders...