Outdoor Container Gardens

Small garden plants tend to look most effective when grouped, either as a mass of one type, or as a mixed selection but in the same colours. Using high-level containers that bring them closer shows them off to the best advantage.

Massing one species

Small plants anywhere need to be used in numbers to create a display. A group of plants all of one species can be used very effectively if varieties in a range of tones of one colour are chosen.

Outdoor Container GardensThe disadvantage of this method of display is that all the plants will be flowering at one time, leaving the container uninteresting for the rest of the year. However you can turn this disadvantage into an advantage if you grow a selection of plants that flower at different times of the year and replace one species by the next as soon as it has flowered. In this way the container provides a miniature garden that constantly changes in both colour and form. It is most economical to choose annuals, growing each variety from seed in succession in a number of individual pots. New plants can then be easily transplanted into the container when the previous group are past their best.

This garden could start in spring as a bulb garden of tiny yellow Narcissus or bright blue Iris. Or you could use a mass of Primroses in a mixture of colours to create a sunny effect.

In summer these could be exchanged for trailing and compact Lobelia. Choose from bright blue or pink with white centres, or dark blue mixed with light blue, or white used with a red trailing variety. Alternatively the pot could hold Pinks in all their wonderful shades from deep, dusky red, through pink to white. In late summer introduce a mass of gold, orange and brown Nasturtium which flower from mid-summer to mid-autumn.

A mixed plant container

The alternative to using a group of just one species is to plant the pot up with a range of small plants that have been chosen to provide colour throughout the summer, as one variety takes over flowering from another but the result will not be as colourful.

Containers to use

  • Small plants Come into focus when they are displayed raised above ground level, as you can then appreciate their delicacy. There are a number of ways of doing this.
  • Wall baskets grouped at eye level but at slightly different heights could be used very effectively to display small trailing plants.
  • Pots on stem, like stone urns allow you to place the garden wherever you want.
  • Legs for a container can be fairly simply made from a few leftover bricks. Use for an old sink, tub, even and old wash-hand basin.
  • Form a pillar from an old chimney pot or plant pots and position a low, wide container on top.
  • Use a table top to show off a group of miniature plants in tiny containers such as the shells.

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