Garden Photo of the Day

Designing Containers With Plants From My Boston Garden

Creative container creations

container with various green foliage plants

Nancy Kressin designs containers in Boston and is sharing some of them with us today.

I first learned the term “shopping in my garden” from the writer and podcast host Margaret Roach. As I planted my pots this year, in an effort to fill them without going bankrupt, I went shopping at my local garden center AND in my garden. I bought fancy annuals such as caladium, coleus, and begonias (boliviensis) from the garden center and supplemented them with self-seeded annuals and perennials from my yard.

square container with maroon and chartreuse foliage plantsI also purchased ‘Dragon’s Blood’ beet seedlings to add maroon foliage to the containers. These thrived, and gave me sizable beets in September.

container with various green foliage plantsFrom my garden, I dug Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’, Zones 5–9), sorrel (Rumex sanguineus, Zones 4–8), Juncus, Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’ (Zones 5–9), various hostas and carex, Lamium ‘White Nancy’ (Zones 3–8), Astilbe, and Impatiens balfourii (annual), adding them to the container compositions to add height, color, and “spillers.”

three containers with matching white, pink, and green color schemesCaladiums combine with hostas and begonias for a colorful shade-tolerant display.

stone container with various green foliage plants and pink flowersLeucothoe, Japanese forest grass, and Impatiens balfourii

five containers on a deck with various annuals and perennialsI am especially delighted with this accidental combination of plants, as several are self-sown (aster and blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis aka Iris domestica, Zones 5–9) ) and the variegated redtwig dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’, Zones 3–8) was a holdover from the red twigs I cut and inserted into my holiday planters last year, which then rooted in the pot. The begonias revived after a winter in my unheated basement, where I gave them no care.

I hope that some of these ideas will inspire you, help you identify ways to use plants from your garden in your containers, and save you some money too!

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  1. gardendevas 10/14/2022

    Bravo, Nancy, on your lovely, resourceful and creative planters! Love the idea of the beets, and the rooted dogwood.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/14/2022

    Beautiful containers, Nancy.

  3. user-7392754 10/17/2022

    It never occurred to me to use some of my garden perennials or annuals - great idea!!! And I love how all of your containers have turned out!! I’ll be “shopping my garden” from now on too. Thank you!

  4. User avater
    cynthia2020 10/17/2022

    Nancy - I love the look of your containers. I hope you share more photos next year!

  5. sheila_schultz 10/17/2022

    Beets and sorrel... fun, fun, fun!!! Brilliant container combos... you got the EYE, Nancy!!! love it.

  6. User avater
    simplesue 10/17/2022

    Nice choices of foliage shapes and textures!

  7. poest 10/17/2022

    The Dock in top picture i grow in my garden. It is great in soup and salad. perennial and in fall forms platelets on tips of its flower stalk. It easily self seeds too.

  8. [email protected] 10/17/2022

    What a lot of great ideas I can use! Especially the beet seedlings! And the dogwood- great, easy way to acquire new shrubs. And that impatiens- how am I not familiar with that one? Beautiful containers! Can't wait to see the next batch!

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