2012 Containers

I have a little obsession with container gardening. I don't know what it is about container gardening that gets me so fired up, but I can say that it my favorite thing to do in the garden. It might be because it allows for a lot of creativity, but I think it's because it appeals to my impatient nature. In the garden you have to wait for years for plantings to develop. It takes just a few weeks for a container to reach its full potential.

I'm sure that a professional container designer would shudder at the complete lack of coordination among my pots, but I can't help it. There is no way I could limit myself to just one palette when there are so many great combinations to be made. 

I also find this time just after planting to be a difficult time. When you look at container designs in magazines they are always shown at their peak, but of course, it takes some time to get there, so containers are always a little disappointing in the beginning I think. Still, it helps to take pictures at different stages to see how they develop.

Following are a few pictures of what I planted this year. I'll go into more detail on the contents in each when I post updated pictures in a couple weeks.


The window box is a constant challenge for me. It might be my favorite container to create, but every year it seems to be just a little off. Two years ago I felt like it was lacking height. Last year I felt like it needed some help in the texture department. I feel like I addressed those concerns this year, but now I have concerns about the color scheme. I was envisioning blue and yellow, but true blue is a tough color to find and I feel like it ended up decidedly purple and yellow, which is not a color combination I'm particularly fond of. Well see how it turns out. It will be much more pleasing when everything starts spilling out the front.



The big container by the front door never looks like much when it's first planted. I did Papyrus 'King Tut' in the center again as I have the last two years and added coleus and sweet potato vines. Right now there is only one flower in the container, a dark pink supertunia. I may add more flowers, perhaps zinnias, to this later if it looks sparse. The skinny blue container has the 'Blue Mohawk' grass I overwintered in it last year. I'm interested to see how it comes back as the ones in my garden did great. I need to add another pot to this spot so there are three.



This might be the first time I've ever repeated a container combination, but I really liked the combination of Superbells 'Cherry Star' and Nemesia 'Sunsatia Lemon' so I used it again this year.



In general I go for brightly colored containers, but I went with soft pastels for the container in center of the garden off the patio. The large glazed ceramic pot that usually lives there took a bad fall this winter and broke into a million pieces so I'm using the elongated urn that held our Christmas tree this winter. It's perhaps a bit formal for the garden, but this whole color scheme is a departure so why not go all the way?



I have three more utilitarian containers at the base of the stairs to the back door. The terra-cotta pot has basil, the blue pot has mint and the black plastic nursery pot is Hudson's tomato. Yes, you read that right. My dog has his own tomato. He loves tomatoes and when we had the tomatoes planted in the circle garden he was constantly snitching them before we could get to them and he never picked them before they were ripe. Then last year we noticed that he kept running to one of the gardening when he went outside and lo and behold, we found that he had "planted" his very own volunteer tomato the year before, presumably by eating one there and sowing a few seeds (undoubtedly encased in Newfie drool). Hudson will be 9 this year and we figured that when you get to a certain age you deserve your own tomato, so this is his. It's an heirloom bush beefsteak that is supposed to top out at 3 feet. I'll be interested to see how it does in the container.


The new containers this year are the two I added to the deck, one by each pergola post (the other is hiding behind this one). I had a hard time finding the right containers, but I'm really happy with these white fiberglass pots. Because I didn't want to permanently affix a trellis to the pergola posts, I just rigged up some white string from the top of the post down to a dowel that I jammed into the soil in the pot and so far it seems to be working pretty well.



This color combination is really gaudy and I'm loving it. I'm excited to see how this one looks in a couple weeks. I think I'm going to like it.



And now the hard part comes … waiting for them all to fill in.


  1. These are really GREAT, Erin! I always feel a little container design challenged, but you clearly have a knack for them.

  2. I'm really enjoying your post today as it hits home with me. I am container gardening for the first time in true form as I had to downsize and now only have a balcony to maintain. Your right, waiting for them to fill in is the hardest part. Also I am now a shade gardener so any help with flowers and shade would always be appreciated ;) waving hi from the hills of North Carolina :)

  3. Catching up on your posts! I really don't do containers, so it's always interesting to see what other gardeners do. I think blue and yellow is an easy spring combination but tough later on. But I like the look of the window box and love the pastels with the alliums near them. And I used to get test plants but it seemed like it was big stuff or tropicals that I just didn't have room for, so I think they took me off their list!


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it. I try to respond to comments here or sometimes via email so make sure to check back.