container gardens
Pot Gardening - Past and Present

Italy, handsomely designed hand-wrought clay pots are important aspects of the designs. Lemons and oranges, oleanders, gardenias, and geraniums are grown in them.

   Around the bay of Naples and along the Italian Riviera, fiery red and pink ivy-leaved geraniums cascade from balconies. In sooty, industrial Milan, Virginia creeper and wisteria vines dominate large boxes on the balconies of new apartment houses. In Sicily, under conditions of poverty and limited space, pot plants still are in evidence, often on shelves suspended on walls or over the doors of one-room houses.

   Greece, with its hot, dry summers, is equally a country of gardens and open courtyards of pot plants. In tin cans, whitewashed or painted yellow, pink, or blue to match the house, the Greeks grow their beloved carnations, stocks, gardenias, geraniums, jasmines, and particularly basil, the pungent Indian herb used for flavoring. When immigrants came to America earlier in the century, they brought with them the practice of growing basil and fragrant flowering plants in tins and other makeshift containers.

   In Greece, as in Spain, patios and terraces express a way of life. For many, they afford the only place to grow such favorites as aspidistra, elephant's ear, clivia, monstera, ruscus, China asters, cosmos, and marguerites. Modern suburban gardens, with facilities for watering, have fewer pots; but balconies are packed with them. In Ellinicon, a small village in the Peloponnesus, the fragrant white-flowering August lily (Hosta plantaginea), known also as Corfu lily, is everybody's cherished possession, even supplanting basil.

Through France and Scandinavia

   The south of France, with its warm climate, follows the pattern of Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece. In the north, including Paris, pots, often of house plants, rest on windowsills and adorn courtyards. In formal chateaux and palace gardens, tubbed sweet bay, oleander, and orange and lemon trees are common, along with ornamental urns, introduced for architectural effect. Window boxes, with geraniums and tuberous begonias, predominate in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria.

   In Scandinavia, there are large plant containers in public squares and on broad sidewalks, in fact, wherever they do not interfere with pedestrian traffic. In front of City Hall in the heart of Copenhagen, great concrete containers with geraniums and other summer flowers are grouped among the benches where people sit in the sun. These modern containers can be seen in the parks and squares of Stockholm and other Scandinavian cities. Shaped like inverted bells, they are planted with colorful tulips and azaleas in the spring, geraniums and white and yellow marguerites in the summer, and chrysanthemums in the fall.

In the Low Countries and Britain

   In the cities and gardens of Belgium and Holland, there is not the rich display of other countries, though tubbed sweet bay, oleander, hydrangea, pomegranate, and such tropicals as palms and rubber plants, command attention in old gardens and public parks.In Amsterdam, shallow square and rectangular containers, resembling enormous