Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Continuous Container Gardens

I recently read Continuous Container Gardens (Townsend, S.B. & Robbins, R., 2010. Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA). The authors of this book take the approach that container gardens or plantings should be continually changed throughout the season to promote interest year round and keep them looking fresh. They discuss suitable containers, and how the container should complement the plants (no tall, skinny plants in tall, skinny containers) and how the container can set the mood for the planting (rustic, historic, elegant, humorous)(me, I go for humorous, hands down). The authors usually have planting schemes that involve what they call a "backbone" plant, that is, generally a perennial that will be a permanent resident of the pot, except for occasional re-potting, such as an evergreen, columnar shrub, Japanese maple or corkscrew willow. The pot is then planted with companion plants that may cover he surface of the soil, trail out of the pot or add a vertical accent. Consideration is given to color, leaf size/shape/texture, hardiness, seasonality, bark color and texture, suitability for pot culture, etc. They add other elements as well- ornaments for holidays, evergreen branches for seasonal displays, small statuary, etc.

One interesting list from is must have plants for container growing: sedums, mosses, golden creeping Jenny, sweet woodruff, false nettle, oxalis, bugleweed, heathers and heaths, heuchera and herbs, especially thyme and sage. I think this is a pretty good list of accent plants, to which I might add rosemary and ornamental peppers. They have some recommendation for pretty edible plants that include kale and Swiss chard along with small flowers and ornamental cabbage.

This is a nice book, with nice photos and nice ideas, but it does seem like a lot of work to re-plant, modify or decorate your outdoor posts several times a year. But if you only do this for a few, strategically placed pots, I think it is a lovely idea (specially when the containers are potted up with edibles!)
Happy gardening!

No comments: