So - here are a few ideas for container gardening that some of you may not have considered. We have some nice red Sorrel in a clay pot that we use in salads and sauteed greens mixes, as well as a mix of lettuce in boxes that hang off of our back deck. Though is doesn't provide us all the greens for big salads, it is surprising how much you can harvest from happy plants growing in the cooler spring temps. We also have basil tucked in the boxes amongst the lettuce for use later on.
The Deutzia was a plant that my wife's step mom Ann passed along to us years ago. It was nipped by deer and overwhelmed in various locations around the yard, but thrives in the medium sized pot - just a lovely, little known flowering shrub.
We've moved several Azaleas into containers to escape the constant chewing by browsing deer - and have been delighted with the results. The magenta, double flowered beauty pictured above was a recent purchase at the annual Azalea sale at the NC State Fairgrounds.
Finally, we come to the Columbine - a favorite flower of mine going back to my childhood. Seeds from the flowers pictured were gathered from a garden at Glendale Springs (we loved to stay at the Inn there, but sadly, it is now closed). When we visited a few years ago, the columbine gardens in the town center were just covered in dry seed pods. Last year, I planted the seed the resulting plants were put into large pots and left outdoors (as a perennial, Columbine does not flower the first year from seed). We had no idea what variety or colors would result, and one of the plants has white/green variegated foliage!
We are delighted to find that the plants shot up once spring arrived, and we are rewarded with a beautiful array of plum, off white, purple and blue colors - and because they were in pots, we could put them on their deck so we can enjoy them as we sit in the evening and unwind.
We've found that the spent growing mix from previous years' tomatoes, peppers and eggplant (essentially a blend of Miracle Gro Potting mix and composted cow manure) are perfect for putting flowering shrubs and plants in pots. We water regularly, feed every few weeks with the dilute "blue stuff" - but they are very carefree, and quite happy, as you can see. And anything goes for pots, as long as it holds the soil and has a drainage hole in the bottom.
So - I hope this inspires you to be creative and flexible, and use container planting to surround yourself with herbs and flowers on your deck or patio!