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Designing Containers With Plants From My Boston Garden

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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.

I 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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