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Gardener's Notebook: Containers as a garden option

For those who enjoy ‘the hunt’ for containers, garage sales offer a plentiful option
Containers can be an option in the garden. (File Photo)

YORKTON - The next Yorkton and District Horticultural Society meeting is on Wednesday, May 15 at 7 the Yorkton Public Library.  Our guest speaker will be Nancy Bird speaking on Natural Dyes from Plants.  Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a member to attend.  Visit for full details.  And check out details of our Plant Sale on June 7.

At one of our recent meetings, the topic of containers came up, and I’ll share some of that with you now.

Containers can be like the old wire coat hangers…either you have none or you have a closet full!  You might have them stacked up by the dozens in the shed, or you might not have the one that you are imagining for your perfect planting.

Like many garden items, containers come in many sizes, shapes, colors and every price range.  Depending on the outdoor space that you want to fill with containers, you might choose several smaller containers, or one large one for impact.  We always enjoyed having all kinds of planters, until one day when we took a picture of them, mid-summer.  While they were lovely and interesting to see ‘in person’, they were all too much of a good thing, and rather than achieve the lush look we hoped for, it just looked cluttered.  The following year, we went to fewer planters, and were much happier with the effect.  If you felt like it, set out the planters you want to use this year, wherever you think you might put them, and take a picture with your phone or iPad.  Even without plants in them, you will get an idea if it is too much or too little, and then you can purchase your plants accordingly.

Another point mentioned was that containers can be high-priced to expensive.  Very true.  But the other side of that ‘container coin’  is that with care, our containers can last for many years and bring us much joy all summer as we savor the beauty they hold.  After Mom died, we got a large, special planter to plant up for her memory.  If she had been at the garden centre with us, I know without a doubt that she would have loved that planter.  So if you are buying a special container as a keepsake of someone dear, or if you are buying it because it just speaks to you and you love it, the purchase needs no further justification.  As gardeners we are outside almost every day, and will get our full enjoyment value from that special planter daily.

For those who enjoy ‘the hunt’ for containers, garage sales offer a plentiful option.  You might find a good collection of containers in the right size but the wrong color, but a couple cans of spray paint  and a little bit of your time can make them look like custom designer additions to your deck.  Be sure to wash these containers well before planting, just to make sure no trace of soil left in them might hold disease.

Another point made was that many things can be ‘containers’ for those gardeners who can think outside the box.  The only requirements that need to be met is that the item can hold soil, and that the item has (or could have) drainage.  So if you found three plastic wastebaskets in just the shade of purple that you thought would look great for the purple wave petunias you had in mind, create some drainage holes at the bottom and start planting!  Once upon a time, one of our quirky planters was an old small gas BBQ that no longer worked.  We removed all the hardware, filled it with soil, and planted up tomatoes, peppers, and onions.  We called that container “grilled vegetables” and it was a fun addition to our plantings!

Thank you to our friends at YTW for their fine work!  Visit the hort society at and have a great week!