| May 07, 2009

Back to HomeMaster Gardeners - May 7, 2009 Containers

by Helen Halpenny, Lanark County Master Gardeners

A few well-placed containers can enhance your garden and help accent its good points. The first step to successful container gardening is planning, not planting. Decide where your containers will go, and what part they will play in your landscape before you head to the nursery. Better yet, cast a critical eye over your entire garden. If there are a few areas that cause a yawn or a wince, imagine how a container or two might improve the scene. While containers can’t camouflage an eyesore (unless they cover it completely) they can create a visual treat elsewhere that leads the eye away from less desirable areas.

Containers can present a welcome at your front door or porch. Choose bold blooms and foliage easily seen from the street to enhance “curb appeal”. The entrance to your home is the perfect place to make a personal statement with a generously planted container.

Containers can fill a void in the perennial garden when the border is between flushes of bloom and looking a little blah. Even the most carefully planned borders will have dull moments when the bleeding heart leaves yellow and die, or the oriental poppies drop their last petals. Insert a large container in a neutral colour planted with one kind of specimen to fill in the bare spot and blend with other perennials.

Frame a view by placing one or two containers down a sightline of your garden to draw the eye to the far end of the garden to a grouping of trees or other point of interest.

Create a focal point, a place where your eye rests and returns when viewing a landscape. Pots at either end of a bench or other structure give prominence to the structure. A single urn placed on a plinth looks special in a woodland setting.

Containers can build bridges between garden and sky in areas where fences and walls are monotonous, flat surfaces making a disconnect between plants and the background. A few flat-backed baskets hanging near the top of the fence will soften the harsh lines. Trailing stems will draw the eye to the border of plants.

Add a touch of formality with a few large pots of striking specimens. Some grasses, hostas, and tropical foliage such as cannas are best appreciated when grown by themselves in a container. Same style pots with one type of specimen are an easy way to bring order to an eclectic garden.

Brighten a shady corner. If you crave more colour than a ground cover can provide, plant a few containers with tuberous begonias, caladiums or even variegated hostas. Periodically move them around to recharge in less shady areas.

Repetition is one of the basic elements of good garden design, along with balance, emphasis and variety. Repetition is easily achieved by using containers that share the same style, size, or plants and distributing them throughout the landscape.

For more gardening information phone Kathleen Lang at 613-283-5982. 

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.