container gardens
Pot Gardening - Past and Present
In the Orient

   Pot plants were always much used in the East, especially in Chinese gardens, where the emphasis is on pines, foliage plants, and decorated vessels. Commonly grown in vases and containers were dwarf trees, "a main occupation of Chinese gardeners." In China, and elsewhere in eastern countries, the houses adjoin courts, which are given character with "flowering trees and shrubs, or pot plants, which are liked still more."

   In early as well as advanced cultures, growing plants in containers has been a universal practice, a symbol of man's innate love and need for growing things. Wherever soil was lacking or the climate was unfavorable, containers made it possible to enjoy the beauty and inspiration of plants. Today, the practice continues to grow, ever changing to fit the needs of the time.


   American visitors to the Old World are invariably impressed by the exuberant displays of container plants around homes, in gardens and parks, and in front of public buildings and places of business.

   In Lisbon, with its narrow, winding streets, where there is hardly a trickle of sunlight, windowsills and tiny balconies are filled with potted plants. Often, they must compete with clothes hung out to dry. I recall one small balcony that contained numerous pot plants, several pieces of laundry, six song birds in cages, and three shouting green parrots attached to their perches by chains.

   Throughout Portugal, containers range from tin cans, clay and decorated glazed pots at entranceways and in small patios, to large cast-stone urns and pots in elegant, formal gardens, like that of the Queluz Palace outside Lisbon. In the moister north, pot plants are seen less frequently than in the hot and dry south, which has a more typically Mediterranean climate.

   The countless pot plants around fountains and pools in the Moorish gardens at the Alhambra and Generaliffe Palaces in Granada are unforgettable. At Generaliffe, they are arranged so precisely and symetrically along the long, narrow canals that they are almost as diverting as the numberless fountains that leap and splash in these gardens where water in its myriad forms plays so important a part. Along the narrow streets of Seville and other Spanish cities, geraniums and climbing roses grow through the intricate lacework of little balconies. Patios, surrounded by high walls, are crammed with potted geraniums, stocks, lemons, oranges, boxwood, sweet bay, jasmines, and Swedish myrtle. Even more, steps are lined with pots of all sizes and descriptions and the tops of walls, also favorite places, resemble miniature gardens.

Italian and Greek Uses

   The Italian garden would be incomplete without pot plants. In the terraced gardens of La Mortola in Venti-miglia and Borremeo Castle on Iseo Bello in Lake Mag-giore, in the extensive Boboli Gardens in Florence, and in other villa gardens throughout