container gardens
Perennials, Herbs, and Vegetables for Containers

   A few years ago, Mrs. Frances R. Williams of Winchester, Massachusetts, who was unable to raise herbs in her shady garden, decided to try them on her nine-foot square porch, which had sun until late afternoon. She used twelve low bushel baskets and four egg cases, each filled with half-rotted compost to within four inches of the top. Then three inches of fertilized soil was spread on top.

   In two of the egg cases, Mrs. Williams planted summer savory, and a dozen basil plants in the other two. Dill, lettuce-leaved basil, narrow-leaved French thyme, and sweet marjoram were also grown. All yielded enough for summer salads and winter drying. In a few of the other baskets, Mrs. Williams planted small-fruited red cherry, red and yellow pear, and yellow plum varieties of tomatoes. Since the deep containers held moisture for a long time, they did not require daily watering. On the shady side of the house, bushel baskets, filled mostly with compost, were planted with open heads of leaf and Bibb lettuce.


   Vegetables can also be grown in containers, if only for novel effect. Purple kale and cabbage are attractive and always arouse curiosity. Grouped around a small pool or on a table, white-fruiting eggplants in individual pots are charming. Rhubarb in large planters or boxes will make a bold accent for the contemporary terrace. In containers, the feathery leaves of carrots, the linear foliage of onions, and the fruits of tomatoes, especially the small kinds, are fun to look at and eat.

   The pot garden offers an excellent opportunity to grow miniature plants, a new form of gardening that is increasing in popularity. In England, where growing miniatures has become a hobby, it appeals strongly to older people, who like to fuss with tiny plants in old stone sinks and other containers raised to waist level.


   In hot climates with little rainfall, cacti and succulents can be the answer. They can be grown, too, in other areas, particularly by gardeners who like to travel without worrying about the container plants they leave behind. Foliage patterns and forms of these plants are fascinating, and many extraordinary compositions can be achieved. Easy to grow, they need a lean soil and are best in small pots.

   Waterlilies and other water plants can be grown in small low tubs, perhaps one waterlily with a specimen of cyperus or floating hyacinth. In a large tub, Egyptian lotus, with its enormous leaves and blooms rising several feet above the surface of the water, is a handsome sight.


   Bonsai or Japanese dwarf trees are also container plants, but these comprise a specialty that is a study and art in itself. It is, however, increasingly popular, and books are available that tell how to train and maintain these dwarf trees and shrubs. Plants can be purchased from nurserymen who specialize in this unusual aspect of container gardening.