container gardens
Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Accent and Screening

   Japanese Privet. A handsome tall shrub or small tree, with glossy, dark green leaves and panicles of white flowers, followed by black berries. It is often confused with the less handsome glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum).

   Loquat. A Japanese tree with long, leathery, strong-veined leaves and tasty orange-yellow fruits. An excellent tub specimen for terraces or patios, as often seen in southern Europe.

   Norfolk Island Pine. A pyramidal, horizontal evergreen with sharp-pointed leaves. Much grown as a pot or tub plant in greenhouses in the North.

   Olive. Picturesque tree with twisted, gnarled trunk and branches as it gets older. Leaves are small, thick and evergreen, olive-green above and silvery below. Slow-growing plants bear black fruits that fall when ripe.

   Pacific Madrone {Arbutus menziesi). An attractive broad-leaved evergreen, with fragrant, heathlike, white flowers in six-inch panicles surmounting large, glossy leaves. Chocolate-brown bark sheds like that of the plane tree. Difficult to move, plants are best transplanted as seedlings under eighteen inches.

   Palms. Often seen in the North in public parks and botanical gardens in tubs. Graceful with slender trunks, often curving, and arching leaves. Some are small, as the lady palm (Raphis excelsa) which attains six to ten feet. All grow easily and withstand neglect.

   Sweet Bay or Grecian Laurel. The true laurel of the ancient Greeks, familiar as a clipped tubbed specimen, often with a single trunk and pungent, dark green leaves. Tough and easy-to-grow, appropriate for formal doorways, hotels, or public buildings. Requires a cool place in winter in the North.

   Rubber Plant. A familiar house plant in the North with large glossy leaves. Include some variegated forms for color highlights.


   With trees, shrubs are needed for background, mass effects, and shade. Every container garden also requires some hardy needle and broadleaved evergreens for year-round color. In summer in the North, these can be supplemented with camellias, pittosporums, podocarpus, oleanders, sweet bays, and citrus plants. Include deciduous types for bloom and the interest of the branches in winter. Here is a recommended but far from complete list of possibilities.

   Arborvitae. Versatile evergreen for the portable garden. Inexpensive, hardy, and quick-growing, it is ideal for hedges or background or for closing off sections. Little Gem, a variety of American arborvitae, is low and compact, a foot high, but spreading several feet.

   Azaleas. Brilliant flowering shrubs requiring an acid soil. They also make good container plants in alkaline areas since soil can be prepared for them. Plants take shade, but flower better in sun. Always keep moist, since fibrous roots resent drying out.

   Brooms or Cytisus. Green arching stems, with abundant flowers in spring. Require full sun and a light, sandy soil. Both the showy Warminster broom, with yellow flowers, and the familiar golden Scotch broom are dependable.