By Michael McCoy
In order to get the most out of limited resources – whether that is space, cash, water, enthusiasm or physical ability – why not consider gardening entirely in pots? It's an obvious, though underrated, solution if you're short on space, short on water or in temporary accommodation. It is even a great way to deal with a normal suburban garden in those seasons that are short on flowers. In any of the above circumstances, a few pots containing plants in full bloom can make a huge impact in the garden. Their power is far greater than the same number of plants planted directly into the garden, as the plants are raised higher than their surrounds, and 'framed' in a way only pots can do – they are quite literally put on a pedestal. The effect can be truly incredible, making an otherwise green, flowerless garden begin to sing.
We have never really grasped hold of this form of gardening in Australia. Many gardens in the UK, for instance, feature huge pots overflowing with a great variety of plants throughout summer.
A single large pot might contain upright shrubs, tall annuals or even climbers growing up a teepee of stakes for height, fuchsias or other flowering shrubs or smaller annuals for the mid-range, as well as prostrate plants hanging down the sides, all jostling in a giant flower arrangement. Hanging baskets around the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island contain a similar diversity of plants. They are hung out overhead after the last frost, with all contents young and fresh, and by the end of summer can be trailing on the ground, the growth is so dramatic.
Elsewhere in Canada, they will use a single species of plant in pots and hanging baskets to achieve impact. Not as interesting, perhaps, as the mixed option, but powerful! You'll see the same sort of effect in Italy and throughout Switzerland with potted red geraniums everywhere.
It is not hard to achieve, but it depends on using a good quality potting mix to start with and then very regular feeding with a liquid plant food (every ten days is not too much). But the most important ingredient for success is regular watering, daily, if possible.
This will still use less water than watering the whole garden, and you can recycle water from the sink or shower. Just remember: a few well-placed pots in extravagant bloom can light up a whole-even drought-stricken-garden. •
Courtesy Warcry magazine of the Salvation Army