Broken into four sections, this book is designed to teach you everything you every wanted to know about container gardening. The first section is about design and how to come up with a workable design for your gardening area. Before it gets to that though, the section opens with a multi page history lesson on containers which may tell you far more than you every wanted to know. After six pages of history, the book moves into “Why use a container?” There are multiple reasons and not just because of space limitations.


After answering that question in detail, the first section moves through various areas of design, types of  planters and pots, colors, single species plantings as well as seasonal single species, formal, informal, etc. Pictures are frequently used to illustrate each idea with text explaining what was trying to be achieved, the setting or location of the containers, type of containers, plants involved or showcased, as well as tips on little extra things you can do to pull off the look. Your personal space, whether it is a balcony, roof top terrace, passageway, sunken garden, etc. plays a huge role as it is part the design and such scenarios are addressed in great detail. Attracting wildlife and being “green” are dominant themes throughout the book and are present here with several pages devoted to aquatic life as well as other ideas.


The second section is devoted to “Seasonal Planting” and starting with page 70 begins with “Spring Planting Ideas.” Tulips, Daffodils, Rosemary, Hyacinth, are all common but this book showcases ways to use them differently. Words won’t really describe how. Like virtually everything in the book, the pictures are what do the idea justice.


After moving through the four seasons with splashes of color everywhere it is time to do the same in “The Kitchen Garden.” No, this isn’t all about a few herbs that can be grown in a windowsill though that is covered. Instead, this third section of the book is about growing fruit and vegetables “…in containers and hanging baskets that will look attractive, taste good, and be far more economical than pricey store-bought produce.” (page 87) So along with herbs and strawberries planters, there are ideas for growing lettuce in a hanging basket, chard and rhubarbs in various pots, fruit trees in pots, and plants that can serve as living aromatics among other ideas.


Of course, buying the best plants is a waste if you don’t know anything about “Preparation and Planting.” Starting with things to consider when buying containers and pots, this fourth section of the book takes readers through everything they need to know about the many choices out there. The right potting mix is as important and again, going “green” or organic is the focus before detailed instructions on how to plant and trees in a variety of containers and locations. Watering, fertilizing, grooming and dealing with pests are just some of the other topics in this thirty-three page section.


A detailed plant directory featuring photographs and information on each plant follows. The information is broken in to mini sections by types of plants such as perennials, annuals, bulbs, climbers, grasses, bamboos, etc. Detailed info that has also appeared in the book earlier is listed here in a quick and easy reference guide.


A glossary, a world wide hardness zone map and a multi page index bring this 191 page book to a close.


Recently released, this book is not only a book of colorful big ideas; it is also a book of day to day practical advice. It helps both the novice gardener get started as well as the seasoned pro see things in a new way. With something for everyone, this book full of colorful photos, tons of information, and practical ideas makes a great gift as well as a personal resource.


The Container Gardener’s Bible: A Step-By-Step Guide To Growing In All Kinds Of Containers, Conditions And Locations

Joanna K. Harrison and Miranda Smith

Quarto Publishing (Rodale)


ISBN# 1594869588


192 Pages



Material provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2009


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