The idea for this book came during my first trip to Europe, eight years ago, when I was thrilled by the casual abundance of pot plants in the patios and courtyards of southern France, Italy, and Greece. In the cities and towns of northern France, England, Scotland, Belgium, Holland, and particularly Switzerland, I marveled at the window boxes of luxuriant red and pink geraniums.
Since then I have made two extended trips to Europe to visit other countries. In Portugal and Spain, I saw secluded patios, with rippling fountains and pools adorned with potted roses and carnations. Throughout Ireland, Austria, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries, I admired the countless window boxes filled with geraniums and tuberous begonias. All this left me with the thought that we, too, should use container plants with greater freedom.
One Plant, a Garden
It occurred to me that a single attractive container plant at a doorway or on a porch or balcony is enough to
make a pot garden. The idea was strengthened one hot August afternoon when I saw a tub of Black Prince fuchsia gracing a simple colonial doorway. Similarly, the container garden might even comprise two specimen plants, as urns with clipped yews or clumps of geraniums.
Growing plants in containers is a distinctive form of gardening. It is particularly appealing because the plants can be moved about for a change of picture and mood. But it also has an architectural quality lacking in plants that are grown in the open ground. What garden sight is more delightful than a flight of stairs bedecked with pots of fiery red geraniums? Or what compares to a pool reflecting great blue hydrangeas in tubs or urns or to window boxes overflowing with petunias high above the city streets.
In recent years, growing plants in movable or immovable containers-pots and tubs, window and plant boxes, planters, and hanging baskets-has developed into a new gardening concept. In part, this is due to contemporary architecture, which presents numerous opportunities for the display of container plants around house and garden. Patios and terraces, paved walks, paths and driveways, planters, raised beds, and retaining walls are characteristic at today's new homes. Sun decks, barbecue areas, garden shelters, swimming pools, tennis and badminton
courts, carports and private docks for boats are other indications that Americans are spending more time outdoors. Although container gardening is essentially old and timeless, it has evolved to suit the needs of the day.