As we continue along on our week long journey of unique containers, I thought that I would share with you one that is portable.

Marigolds and Dianthus

Marigolds and Dianthus

This old wheelbarrow makes a very useful container because you can move it easily to a shady or sunny area as needed.

This antique wheelbarrow is filled with marigolds and dianthus and was located along Route 66 in the historic downtown of Williams, AZ which is a place that we spend time every summer.

This stretch of Route 66 is filled with fun and quirky examples of Americana that I shared in an earlier post.

With any container, you need drainage holes, so you would have to add some to whatever unique container you decide to plant.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you a container that you may find yourself sitting on by accident.

Today, I have two different unique containers to show you and both are on two wheels.

different unique containers

Different Unique Containers

This old bicycle was located in a place where bikes and horses are commonplace and cars are not.

I saw this unique container while visiting Mackinac Island earlier this summer.  The front basket was lined with moss and filled with geraniums and trailing ivy.  The side baskets were also planted too.

The bicycle was sitting in the front garden of a quaint house and I noticed that there was a hummingbird feeder on the handle.

different unique containers

This bicycle planter was located in front of a shop in the historic downtown area of Noblesville, Indiana, which is located just outside of Indianapolis.

When we were young, my sister had a pink bike much like this one while I had a purple one.

As you can see, I see many neat gardening ideas on my road trips.  You can read about my trip to Mackinac Island, here and my trip to Indiana, here.

Tomorrow, I will show you a portable container that has only one wheel and not two.

One of my favorite unique containers came in a most unexpected form…

My Favorite Unique Containers

My Favorite Unique Containers

Okay, what does an old, rusty pickup truck have to do with plants?

Unique Containers: Day 3 - A Rusty Bed

The bed of the pickup was filled with soil and potato plants.

Now, if that isn’t a unique container, then I don’t know what is.

I saw this bed of potatoes growing at the University of Tennessee garden last year.

I don’t think that the truck runs anymore, but it certainly functions as both garden art and a planter.

Tomorrow, I have two different unique planters to show you and both are planted on two wheels.

What kind of containers do you have planted in your garden?

Are they terra-cotta, glazed or plastic?

Do you have any unique containers?

I like seeing plants that have been planted in unusual containers.  So this week, I will be sharing with you some of my favorites that I have seen on my travels throughout the United States.

Today’s unique container comes from Tennessee.

Trashy containers

‘Trashy’ containers

Have you ever seen a trash can used as a container for plants?

On a visit to the University of Tennessee Gardens, I visited their wonderful kitchen garden, which was filled with surprises and I came away inspired.

You can read more about my visit to these gardens and see some more pictures of these ‘trashy’ containers, here.

See you again tomorrow, when I’ll show you another unique planter that has 4 sets of tires.

Do you like to container garden?

I do.  

I have annual flowers, herbs, succulents and vegetables growing in a variety of containers around my garden.

Containers are a great way to expand the boundaries of your garden.  Even if you don’t have any piece of earth to grow a plant in, you can create a garden in a pot.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw some beautiful containers at a client’s home.

The pots were from Italy

As you can see, they weren’t being used except to hold a child’s pool toy.

The pots were from Italy – Tuscany to be exact.

The pots had come from her husband’s restaurant, which had recently had their landscape redesigned and no longer needed the pots.  So, he brought the pots home where they have sat ever since.

My client mentioned that she was trying to get rid of them and did I know of anyone who would want them?

Are you kidding me?

Of course, I knew of someone who would want them….me!

Now, I just had to figure out how to get them to my house.  These pots were big and heavy.  But, I knew of at least two strong men who would maybe help me out.

beautiful containers

My husband and nephew were kind enough to come out on a very hot afternoon and help me out.

beautiful containers

The pots were quite heavy, but they were able to get them up into our truck bed with a little help from me.

beautiful containers

The pots were a little heavier than we expected, but finally we got all three up into the truck.

On the way home, we stopped by a Dairy Queen for ice cream sundaes and to cool off.

unique containers

I can’t believe that I didn’t have to pay anything for these pots, saving me hundreds of dollars.

Of course, I am so thankful for the generosity of my client. 

Now I just have to figure out what to plant in them.  I will be using them in my back garden, which I hope to re-design this winter.

What would you plant in them?  I’d love to hear your ideas…

Come back tomorrow, when I will begin sharing a week’s worth of unique containers that I hope you enjoy!

Unique Containers: Day 2 – ‘Trashy’ Containers

I am always on the lookout for new ways to display annual flowers.  I’ll do anything from transforming old, antiques into planters to using brightly-colored containers.

On a recent visit to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens in Wisconsin, I saw this creative use of an old, decaying tree trunk…

decaying tree trunk

What a great example of a sustainable flower ‘pot’.

The depression within the tree trunk held just enough potting soil for the flowers to grow in.

Seeing this made me wonder what other items that we find in nature that we can use as planters.

Any ideas?

Over the weekend, my husband and I went away for the weekend to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary.

We had debated on where to go and decided to make the trip to southeastern Arizona.  Why this area, you may ask?  Well, I have lived in Arizona for 28 years and during the time, have traveled to the northwest, southwest, southern, northern, northeast and eastern regions of the state – but I had never been to the southeastern areas.  Our ultimate destination was to be the former mining town of Bisbee, now a popular tourist attraction.

visit Tombstone

Along the way to Bisbee, we decided to visit Tombstone along the way.  My husband had visited Tombstone when he was you, back when many boys dreamed of becoming a cowboy.

visit Tombstone

If you are a little rusty on your cowboy history, Tombstone is the place the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place in 1881.

visit Tombstone

The main street is blocked off to cars and is lined on either side by stores and restaurants catering to  tourists.

historical places

It was an interesting mixture of historical places converted into tourist attractions.

Tombstone

I enjoy visiting museums, so my husband and I headed over to the old courthouse, which has been turned into a museum.

silver mining town

It was very interesting to learn of Tombstone’s history as a silver mining town.

Tombstone

The back of the courtyard was where hangings took place.

Tombstone

Inside, was a diorama where the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral was depicted with a detailed description of what happened.

main street of Tombstone

Cowboys stood along the side of the main street of Tombstone, which added to the illusion of being taken back in time.

main street of Tombstone

After visiting the attractions along the main street, we decided to stroll through the adjoining streets.  There were many old buildings dating back to the late 1880’s that were still standing.

main street of Tombstone

Tombstone is in zone 8a, which means that it gets down to 10 degrees in the winter months.  As a result, I was interested in seeing what types of plants did well here.

Coastal Cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera)

Coastal Cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera) 

Prickly pears and cholla cacti were in full bloom.

Cow's Tongue Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii)

Cow’s Tongue Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii) 

There were no lawns to be seen and most of the landscape consisted of a variety of succulents including desert spoon, hesperaloe and yucca.

Yellow Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

Yellow Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) 

I did see a beautiful yellow bird-of-paradise, which is usually seen in high desert areas where its more cold-tender cousins red bird-of-paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) and Mexican bird-of-paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) can struggle.

yellow flowers

I love how the bright red stamens contrast with the yellow flowers, don’t you?  Yellow bird-of-paradise is hardy to -10 degrees or zone 6.

Texas sage as also prevalent in the area.

container plants

I wasn’t sure what to think of this collection of container plants.

It consisted of a mixture of plastic pots and toilets planted with live and silk flowers. I’m pretty sure my HOA wouldn’t allow this 😉

While Tombstone was much of what I expected, the history and cowboy themed attractions weren’t my favorite part of our visit…  

container plants
container plants

 I invite you to come back for my next post, where I will share with you why this small plant made me so excited and how it is part of a very historic plant!

Join me for my next post about our adventures in Tombstone.

cool-season annual flowers

Fall is here and nurseries are stocked with all sorts of cool-season annual flowers.

So, my question to you is, what will you plant your annual flowers in this fall? Will you use a ‘regular’ container?

cool-season annual flowers

Or, maybe you are the type who likes to do things a little differently?

Maybe one of these unusual planters is more your style?

An old bicycle basket finds new purpose as a planter in Noblesville, Indiana

An old bicycle basket finds new purpose as a planter in Noblesville, Indiana.

Marigolds planted in an old wheelbarrow along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona.

Marigolds planted in an old wheelbarrow along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona.

Old pots and bowls used to plant miniature gardens in an antique store in upstate New York

Old pots and bowls used to plant miniature gardens in an antique store in upstate New York.

Old chairs transformed into planters in the historic downtown of Noblesville, Indiana

Old chairs transformed into planters in the historic downtown of Noblesville, Indiana.

A 'bed' of flowering bulbs in Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana

A ‘bed’ of flowering bulbs in Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana.

An old bathtub serves as a large planter in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

An old bathtub serves as a large planter in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

unique planters

Galvanized metal bucket containers at an Amish swap meet.

I was fortunate enough to have seen all of these unique planters throughout my travels.  But, it was these galvanized bucket containers that inspired me to purchase an old antique watering can and create my own unique container for flowers…

unique planters

 I found this rusty watering can in an antique store in Prescott, Arizona and I knew just where I would put it in my garden.

unique planters

I added some holes on the bottom, and filled it with violas, lobelia and alyssum.   It sits right in the middle of my side vegetable garden where I can see it from my kitchen window.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the unusual planters from my travels.

**I would love to hear about any unique items that you have seen transformed into planters 🙂  

A Beautiful Garden in the Middle of a Ghost Town

You may remember that earlier this year, I was excited to try my hand at growing container corn.

I learned about container corn when I was reading through Burpee’s catalog.  They had a hybrid corn called, ‘On Deck’, which was specially bred to grow in containers.  Each stalk was said to produce 2 – 3 ears.  

Well, I like to try new things in the garden and then tell you all about them.  So, I ordered the seeds and got ready.  You can read about how I prepared in my earlier blog post “An Old Whiskey Barrel and Corn Seeds”.

Container Corn

I hand-watered my seeds and was delighted when they quickly sprouted.

I planted a few nasturtiums in the front because I like to grow flowers with my vegetables.

Container Corn

The corn grew quickly, but I started to see a problem…

The corn on the outside was not growing as quickly as those in the middle.  I suspect that maybe that was because the corn in the middle received more water and/or had more room to grow their roots.

The reason it is a problem is because in order to have a good corn crop with ears full of kernels, they need to be adequately pollinated.  This is achieved by having multiple rows of corn.

In this case, I had plenty of corn stalks for pollinating.  The problem was that the outer corn weren’t maturing as quickly as those in the middle.  

Container Corn

As a result, the inner corn stalks started sprouting corn before the outer stalks and there was not enough pollen available.

I did get 3 tiny ears of corn among the center stalks – not worth eating at all.

I was going to pick the ears of corn so that I could show you how small they were.  But…  

Container Corn

The birds got to my container corn first.

I have grown corn in my vegetable gardens every year and have never had a problem with birds eating it.

But, they evidently loved my container corn.

**I watered my container corn diligently, taking care not to over water.  They were planted in good-quality planting mix and given slow-release fertilizer.

While I did like how they looked growing in my whiskey barrel, I am not impressed with their uneven growth and lack of corn.

Needless to say, I won’t be growing container corn anytime soon.  I am planning on planting strawberries in it this next spring though 🙂

One of my favorite stops on our road trip this year was visiting the gardens at the University of Tennessee.


Earlier in our trip, I visited the gardens of the University of South Carolina, so I was looking forward to seeing more campus gardens.

Even though, I had heard great things about the gardens at UT, I was surprised at how much there was to see. 

The kitchen gardens were the first area we came up to.

kitchen garden

The kitchen garden was bordered by trash cans filled with flowering annuals and tulips.

kitchen garden

Roses and a clematis vine greeted us at the entrance of the kitchen garden.

I wish I could grow clematis vines in Arizona.  I tried once – it did grow, but wouldn’t flower.  Definitely NOT a ‘fuss-free’ plant for a desert garden.

kitchen garden

The fence was made up of tree stakes, sawed in half and painted lavender.  The area inside was filled with vegetables, herbs and other plants.  The garden was a also a test garden for many yet to be released plant varieties.

kitchen garden

Here is a strawberry with red flowers, called ‘Toscana’.

kitchen garden

Garlic planted among leaf lettuce look so attractive, don’t you think?

Did you know that garlic keeps bad bugs away from the lettuce?  It’s true!

square-foot gardening

Here is a great example of ‘square-foot gardening‘.

Flowering chives

Flowering chives were just a few of the herbs that bordered the outer area of the garden.

The flowers are so pretty, that I think I’ll let some of my chives go to flower this year.

artichoke plants

The artichoke plants were huge – my mother posed beside it so you could see how big it was.

kitchen garden

Some of the beds were full of what many would call weeds.  But this crop of ‘hairy vetch’ is actually a cover crop, which is planted in between seasons because it adds nitrogen to the soil.

kitchen garden

Have you heard of the newest trend of vertical gardening?  I love this display.

kitchen garden

Of course, a kitchen garden should have a compost pile.

Do you see the plastic tube in the middle?  That is perforated all the way down, in order to get air to all layers of the compost pile, which helps with decomposition.

kitchen garden

Outside of the kitchen garden was an old, rusty truck that had potatoes growing in its bed.

This was a great example of what I like to call ‘functional garden art’.

A Rusted Pick-Up, Trash Can Containers and a Kitchen Garden

Here is a cute praying mantis figure.

Glandularia pulchella

I did see some familiar plants that are equally at home in the desert southwest like this prickly pear and verbena (Glandularia pulchella), below.

university garden

After leaving the kitchen gardens, I walked through the larger part of the university gardens.

university garden

One of the things that I enjoy about traveling, is discovering new plants that don’t grow where I live.  

Viewing this garden, I was often surprised to find quite a few plants that I also grow, even though my garden was about 1,800 miles away from here.

beautiful shade plants

As I walked through the larger garden, there were beautiful shade plants, like these hosta.

Brightly colored azaleas

Brightly colored azaleas dotted the landscape.

University of South Carolina

Isn’t this ‘Encore’ azalea beautiful?

delicate flowers

Lily of-the-Valley was blooming.  I love their small, delicate flowers.

hosta

I love the lime-green color of this hosta, don’t you?

honeysuckle

This honeysuckle smelled heavenly!

University of South Carolina

It was so pretty, too.

wisteria vine

We also found a huge wisteria vine, which also had a wonderful fragrance.

dogwood trees

The dogwood trees were blooming.

Did you know that the outer white petals aren’t the actual flower?  They are called ‘brachts’.  The real flower is in the center and isn’t too showy.

Road trip
Road trip
Willowleaf 'Blue Star

Willowleaf ‘Blue Star’ was in full bloom.  

lawn

Throughout the lawn areas were softly mounded planting beds, which I liked because they added height and interest to this large expanse of lawn.

red-flowering plant

From a distance, I could see a red-flowering plant. I walked closer to see what it was…

Trifolium rubens

I was surprised to find that it was Red Clover (Trifolium rubens).  It was very pretty, but you need to be careful when using it as a groundcover, because like other clovers; it can be invasive.

shade garden

As we got ready to leave the garden, we walked through the shade garden, which had places to sit and eat.

The UT Gardens have so many different events for the public.  I only wished that I lived closer 🙂

I encourage you to take some time and visit the gardens at your local university.  You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find there.

Our trip is nearing its end, but I am looking forward to visiting Kentucky.

****************

“Thank you” to my friend, Dave Townsend (from Tennessee) who sent me to this wonderful garden.

I encourage you to visit Dave’s blog, Growing the Home Garden, which is a hugely popular blog – once you visit, you’ll see why.