Continuous Container Gardens, by Sara Begg Townsend and Roanne Robbins nicely illustrates an approach to gardening that can work for a balcony gardener. Especially if you have one of those tiny outdoor spaces that has room for a chair and one container – which is increasingly common in many big cities. The idea? One container is all you really need for four seasons of gardening.
This is an how-to book. And assumes a bit of gardening knowledge. The four seasons for each container have been photographed and start each chapter so you can easily see what the key plants are. The photos illustrate how to switch out selected plants in a single pot throughout the year to reflect what is available and seasonal at your local nursery. Plant match-ups are suggested with enough information, I think, to help you successfully find the recommended plants or substitute as you need in your region.
Each chapter takes a slightly different approach to a container, varying container and gardening style, colour palettes and plants groups. The authors provide tips on the fundamentals, like selecting containers for your space, potting mixes, watering, fertilizing and drainage requirements to help get you started. And their plant picks show they are not afraid to mix it up and combine perennials with shrubs, vines, annuals, grasses, herbs and vegetables and even the occasional bulb or two. They present a wide range of container ideas that – once you get the concept – can be modified to meet the needs of your gardening zone, sun exposure, gardening knowledge and of course your budget.
The only caution is that depending on where you live, some of the planting ideas might not be the best to deal with the wind conditions on your balcony. But if you are looking for inspiration for that little piece of garden that is all yours – no matter how tiny – Continuous Container Gardens might be the only reference book you need to help focus your efforts.