Gardenless gardening.

By: Ian George

It is difficult to beat the natural beauty of wooden planter boxes, no matter whether it's on a small veranda or expansive patio, terrace or decking area. A well-chosen planter box in long-lasting teak or resilient cedar will enhance any garden no matter how modern or stylish. Departed are the years of having only oak half-barrels or rough cedar boxes to choose from. Because pressure on land resources continues growing and buildings take priority over open spaces, an ever-increasing quantity of the populace will not, and never will have, access to a fully fledged garden. What we frequently do have, needless to say, are window ledges and front steps, balconies and basements, rooftops and backyards. Where we lose in grass and flower beds we are able to gain by meeting a new challenge: to become gardeners without gardens.
Far from being the poor relation of conventional horticulture, growing plants in containers is one of the most gratifying - and creative - ways to garden. Even those who do possess a garden frequently also have a paved area, patio or terrace on which to put pots and tubs of plants, and together
this new wave of container gardeners is taking the horticultural world by storm.
Commercial growers are being persuaded to
produce sensibly compact plants and simple-
to-handle composts, whilst garden centres seek to encourage us with 'patio collections"
self-watering planters and swish pottery.
Every variety of gardening that may be expressed in a full-sized garden may be replicated in the container garden, be it a romantic, flower-filled courtyard, a balcony crammed with edible produce or a low-maintenance window box. One of the beauties of container gardening is that it may be tailored to suit all tastes and pockets. It is possible to purchase large, mature plants ready-planted in containers to create an instant effect, at a price. But for most of us, it is more realistic to build up a collection of pots and permanent plants progressively, creating a few splashes of instant colour with seasonal annuals. Planters of lilies, pelargoniums and nicotiana create an impressive display with seasonal annuals.
A container garden is mobile, adaptable and eminently suitable to changing lifestyles.
Young people rarely, if ever, possess a permanent fixed abode, so pots can move with them. Adults, too, are realising the good sense of bringing the garden closer to hand: why walk halfway down the garden to enjoy the heady scent of summer lilies or to gather a few herbs and tomatoes for the evening meal, if you can have them on your doorstep. Perhaps the best thing of all about a contained garden is that it provides you with control: over weeds, over the size of the plants, and over colour combinations - a definite advantage if you are just starting out in gardening, or if you just need to be less of a slave to the garden hoe and pruning shears. With a few exceptions, it is possible to grow just about anything in a planter that may be grown in a bed; fruit, vegetables, herbs, roses, bulbs, annual and perennial flowers, climbers, shrubs and trees. As with any garden, the principle considerations are the growing medium (in this instance, potting compost) and the amount of sun, shade and shelter the plants will receive.
The advent of container grown plants (those raised entirely in containers) means that planting can, in theory, be carried out at any time. In practice, however, it is never a good idea to plant in chilly, wet or frosty weather; nor is it sensible to plant during a hot spell in summer, when the plants will have to work extra hard to adjust to their new environment. (If you do purchase plants in the summer, leave them in a shady corner, for a day or two subsequent to re-potting and only gradually introduce them to full sun.) Container gardeners usually neglect autumn as a planting time, putting all their efforts into spring and summer but the cooler weather and rains of autumn are very beneficial to freshly potted plants, giving the roots a good chance to get established before the hard weather arrives.
If there could possibly be just two golden rules of planter gardening, they'd be obtain the largest planter you can afford. The most common mistake is to purchase planters which are too small, so that the plants grow bare, leggy and starved. To the plant the planter is its entire world. It must provide water, air and nutrients and also provide room for the roots to develop. This doesn’t mean that small plants should be put into vast containers however you will need wide range of containers to ensure that plants can be regularly potted on. The second rule would be to purchase more compost than you think you need. Plants in pots should never be put in garden soil which can be devoid of nutrients and full of pests. Potting compost is sterile, pleasant to use and carries all of the nutrients a plant needs for its first few months.

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The Lichfield Planter Company manufactures planter boxes in all sorts of style, shapes and sizes. All handcrafted and many different designs all created in wood. To see these and many more handcrafted products visite their site. planters

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