THERE’S REALLY NOTHING you can’t grow in containers, provided the container is big enough — trees, shrubs, grasses, bulbs, perennials, annuals.
So, if you happen to have a 4,600 square foot rooftop terrace like the one above and below, atop a factory converted to living lofts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — come September, you can have your own prairie meadow, ablaze with golden rudbeckia (black-eyed Susans).
Rebecca Cole, the garden designer, created the look of natural landscaping, with metal cubes containing birch trees and grasses, ‘carpets’ of sedum, and lots of annual color. She carefully planned the placement of containers to break up the vast space into functional areas, and considered the view from indoors.
On the Greenwich Village terrace, below, also by Rebecca Cole, a Japanese maple thrives, along with a lush array of evergreens and perennials, many with chartreuse foliage.
MORE CONTAINER IDEAS
Now for something a little more attainable. First, a couple of humble containers from my own past, and what made me happy about them:
The yellow-tipped hosta in a terra cotta pot, below at left, couldn’t be easier or more reliable. The five orange lilies at right were a free bonus with a plant order. They were stuck in a clay pot and forgotten, except for the few weeks each summer when they would reappear, vigor undiminished.
The perennial dianthus (mini-carnations), below, from a farmers market, were a complete surprise. How well they bloomed had, I think, something to do with the piece of salvaged mirror I placed along the wall behind them. A south-facing wall to begin with, the extra reflected light seemed to enhance and prolong their bloom, which lasted for many weeks.
Another bargain in a pot, below: coleus and impatiens stuck in a shady, bare space among hostas, ferns, and hydrangeas for instant, portable color.
If there’s one good rule for successful annual containers, it might be ‘Stuff it all in there.’ The urn below, created by landscape designer Mary-Liz Campbell at the entrance to her home in Westchester County, has at least five different plants, including cannas, Japanese blood grass, variegated ivy, and sweet potato vine.
Two important things to do with container plantings: feed and water. A lot. Nutrients in containers get used up quickly.
Last, an unpretentious little grouping, seen last spring on an Amsterdam doorstep. Not much to it, really — it’s mostly just one plant per pot — but doesn’t it make you want to go plant up some containers and stick them on your front steps?