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P. Allen Smith's Container Gardens: 60 Container Recipes to Accent Your Garden Hardcover – March 1, 2005
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This is a book of "recipes" for putting together beautiful color-coordinated containers with contrasting foliage. Some of the containers are more beautiful than the plants themselves and may prompt many readers to start shopping for their planters at antique sales. Each recipe spells out the ingredients - the type container and number and quantity of each plant. A photo and list of tips are also included.
The latter section of the book is quite informative and contains articles on stocking a potting shed (hmmm, the first item is a copy of his Garden Home Journal), selecting the right container for the setting, how to "age" a container, clean terra-cotta pots, waterproof containers, plant a standard pot, a hanging basket and a window box, and a plant directory of all the plants he mentions in the book.
It is quite obvious that these gorgeous containers were put together with plants fresh from the nursery (or florist) and I question how some of them would look after the growing season kicks in. For example, he recommends using the rose "La Marne" in one arrangement and even though he is using a large container, I know that this rose gets quite large and I'm not sure how it would look surrounded by coleus and petunias!?! The same goes for other plants like Kopper King hibiscus, etc. Still, I'm sure a lot of it is trial and error and if you want a book to inspire, this one will surely do it.
Smith suggests winter is the time when the garden is most subtle with its barks, berries and winter blooms, and last year I prepared a few winter containers using ideas he describes in this book. For one thing, pansies seem to be able to stand cold weather and often on a mild winter day their cheerful little faces pop through the snow to greet you. Some bulbs like Galanthus (snow drops) and Scilla will bloom early and give you a hint of the nice weather to come. Hellebores (and Crocus in my Virginia garden) are famous for their winter appearance, as noted in the Christmas carol "Lo a Rose Er Blooming" and small evergreen plants such as miniature hollies and needled trees also can be used to great effect. You can also try your hand at indoor pots. If you work outdoors, the key is to use a weatherproof container so the contents don't freeze and crack the sides of the pot. Smith's book is a great book for beginners and those of us who have been gardening a while.
The book gives "recipes" for specific plants in pots. I'm in zone 3 in Northern Minnesota, not far from Canada where there's a very short growing season and selection of plants is limited. Winter here is mega snow with zero to 20 degrees below zero or colder for several months. The book gives recipes for winter pots but no plant in a container will live thru winters here. That part of the book is useless for very cold Northern winters.
Many of the plants in the recipes aren't available here, especially since this is a small town. Even in Minneapolis MN (where I'm from) I don't remember seeing many of those plants. Maybe if you are in a slightly warmer growing zone the plants in the recipes will be useful if they're available in your local garden centers.
If I had leafed thru this in a book store I wouldn't have bought it. Most likely I'll glance thru the pictures again, then donate it to a thrift shop. I have books with more practical information as well as pretty pictures.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We are doing more and more container gardens so this book was wonderful. Loved his ideas.Published 15 days ago by Lanette Wolf
This book opened up a whole new world of container gardening for me! I had no idea that there was anything to it other than the occasional rubber-tree-in-pot, but Smith has... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gloria Jenkins
Great pictures and ideas. Anyone wanting to get ideas, this is the book to have!Published 3 months ago by Betty-Lou
I love gardening and reading gardening books in the winter. This book had nice pictures and was a nice read with lots of good tips.Published 7 months ago by Sherri Orsucci