container gardens
Pots, Kettles, Planters, Baskets
Plastic Pots

   Plastic pots, often preferred by growers of house plants, are attractive, lightweight, and water retentive. Available in neutral grays, greens, and black, they do not gather fertilizer salts on their surfaces. In clay pots, roots concentrate along the sides where water and nitrogen collect; in plastic, roots are distributed throughout the soil area. Yet plastic pots are not always practical because they are easily knocked over. The larger sizes, of course, are more secure.

   One way to make plastic pots heavier is to slip them into clay pots, jardinieres, or wooden tubs or boxes. Another method is to arrange them in sheltered locations, grouped for support. On the other hand, they make desirable hanging baskets because they are light and attractive.

Urns for Grace

   Urns, whether decorated or plain, are charming containers. Often they are used as a pair at each side of a doorway or driveway entrance, but just a single specimen will enhance a terrace or a garden nook. Urns are often made of cast iron, but clay and concrete are also used. In old palace gardens of Europe-at Versailles and Quelez, outside Lisbon-urns were important accents, and they may be seen today gracing these lovely, elegant formal gardens.

Concrete Containers

   Sturdy concrete containers have a solid appearance. They do not topple in strong winds or crack where winters are cold. Usually they are left outdoors all year to ornament house, shop, or hotel. Concrete containers may be plain or highly ornamented, and what you select will depend on the setting. Though generally purchased, they can be custom made in small sizes for geraniums, petunias, and other flowers or in large sizes for evergreens-as arborvitae, yews, Japanese privet, aucuba, camellia, pittos-porum, or holly. These are often placed in front of large apartments, hotels, restaurants, department stores, and public buildings.

   Plants grow well in concrete containers because the soil remains moist and the roots cool. As a rule, they have a single large drainage hole. To avoid clogging, the holes are covered with large pieces of crock or other coarse material at planting time. Burlap and sphagnum moss are spread over this to prevent the soil from washing through.

Tin Cans

   Gardeners in many places rely on tin cans. In sections of southern Europe, they are used almost exclusively; even oil drums are planted with trees. To improve their appearance, they are whitewashed or painted and either decorated with designs or covered with tiles. On Rhodes, I remember a yellow cottage with plant tins also painted yellow. In Piraeus, a little old woman grew grapes and pink hollyhocks in blue tin cans scattered over the rooftop and placed in front of her dazzling white house.