An unlimited variety of containers is available for your garden. These range in size from small house-plant pots to large boxes and planters. Equally variable are the materials from which they are made. These include wood, glass, clay, aluminum, bamboo, straw, plastic, fiberglass, terra cotta, tin, cast iron, zinc, copper, and brass, each with certain advantages and disadvantages. What you select will depend on availability, cost, background, and appeal.
In addition to traditional circular pots and tubs, there are modern and ultra-modern forms-square, rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, and octagonal. Also eligible are old iron kitchen pots, kettles, pails, jugs, casks, vases, crocks, jelly tubs, barrels and nail kegs, Japanese fish tubs, old sinks, bathtubs, bamboo soy tubs, and novelties such as driftwood, wheelbarrows, donkey carts, spinning wheels and boxes attached to roadside mail boxes. There are also bird cages, decorative well heads, animal figures, and
strawberry jars. Woven baskets may be used to conceal unattractive containers. Even tar paper pots, handled by nurserymen and florists, are worthwhile if painted or covered to improve their appearance.
Search Attics and Cellars
Start with what you have. If you scout cellars or basements, attics, garages, and sheds, you will doubtless encounter something interesting. Old-fashioned pots and kettles, often sold in antique shops at country auctions or seen at old New England inns, have much appeal.
Consider old cookie and bean jars, pickle and other types of crocks, wash tubs, coal pails, jardinieres, and ceramic bowls. For drainage, spread a thick layer of large pebbles or broken pieces of pots or bricks at the bottom and then water plants with care. In large containers of this kind, drainage material should be several inches thick. Where rainfall is heavy, it is advisable to keep containers without drainage outlets on porches or under awnings or the broad eaves of houses. With pails and old galvanized wash tubs, holes can be easily punctured at the bottom.
Plants in containers without drainage openings remain moist longer. Some of these-crocks, jardinieres and cookie jars-are heavy enough to be secure against wind. Earthy
in character, they harmonize with geraniums, ice plants, cacti, and succulents. Yet others-iron pots, kettles, and pans-do not break and can be painted.
What constitutes the ideal container? A container must be attractive, even if it is not an object of art. It should be strong and durable and able to resist all kinds of weather. This is especially true of the large sizes, which usually remain outdoors all year around. In the North, alternate freezing and thawing is a problem in winter; in tropical climates, excessive heat, humidity, and moisture are to be considered. And in semiarid areas, there is the effect of scorching sun to keep in mind.