Containing oneself.

Container gardening… the act of planting a garden in some sort of vessel not directly in the ground, is as old as civilization itself and as widely spread.
It purportedly was started with the creation of urban areas, where its citizens wanted to emulate the beauty of their rural homes, or grow plants for medicinal or nutritional reasons.
This motivation continues today.

Container gardens include but are not limited to: window boxes, hanging baskets, potatoes bales, raised beds, roof gardens, green walls. They can be placed on walls, roofs, floors, vertically and horizontally. Its uses are only limited by ones imagination.

The Public Gardens have many container gardens. Hanging from posts, gracing the tops of the balusters on both bridges and in raised beds by the main gates. According to gardener Tracy Melvin-Jessens, the choice of plant material is ultimately the decision of the  Horticultural Supervisor with input from the crew chief. They take into account what has worked in the past and add something new to the mix. The site requirements are always a priority.

Arbour by the Victoria Jubilee Fountain at the Halifax Public Gardens

This year window boxes have been added to the new arbours by the Victoria Jubilee Fountain.

Foliage plants predominate in one of the urns around the bandstand at the Halifax Public Gardens.

A light soilless mix is used as planting medium with the addition of slow-release fertilizers in all containers. Water gels can be added to cut down on watering. Tracy said these have been used in the past, though the practice has stopped. The cost may have contributed to that decision though I find them worth using. The slow release pellets fertilize the plants throughout the season turning this  …

Spilling over. One of the lovely urns surrounding the bandstand at the Halifax Public Gardens in 2014

…into this (though this is last year’s planting).
Chosen plant plugs are inserted into the planting medium and hand watered every day. Later in the season when the plants and their roots are at their maximum size, a soluble fertilizer is added to the water every couple of weeks to supplement the depleted slow release pellets.

Raised beds by the main gates at the Halifax Public GardensThe plants used in this years raised beds outside the main gates, mimic last years with the exception of common impatiens (Impatiens walleriana). This plant has  been suffering  from downy mildew disease in North America and in the UK and production has been limited to try and contain the disease. New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri) a variety not susceptible to the disease are being used instead of the common variety, though these are more expensive.

Changing seasons in the containers at the Halifax Public Gardens Plant material can be changed in containers as the season progresses, making it an ideal all season garden. Last year’s containers by the entrance to Horticultural Hall was given a make-over for the fall. The colours of the ornamental cabbage (Brassica oleracea) become more vibrant when the temperatures are cold.

Containers at the Uncommon Grounds Cafe at the Halifax Public GardensA couple of years ago, the gardeners started putting containers on the outdoor deck of the Uncommon Grounds cafe, making a lovely spot even lovelier.
One of my pet peeves is the lack of  plant material in the outdoor terraces of restaurants around the city. Things are changing, but it’s an idea that’s been slow to catch on in the Maritimes.

Filling the space left by the damaged statue of Diana at the Halifax Public GardensSome containers may surprise you. This one is made of plastic and was spray painted the same colour as Diana’s empty pedestal managing to hide her absence. A temporary though clever solution.

Decorated tomb in a cemetery in Bunyola, MallorcaStill on the subject but changing location, this container garden moved me to tears. It was arranged around a tombstone in Mallorca. Someone created a beautiful white garden in containers including solar lights, wind chimes, fruit, scented flowers, chalk drawings and messages scattered throughout. I visited this beautiful cemetery many times (it contains a gorgeous garden) and this plot was always tended. Someone is very loved and missed.

Container using succulentsContainer gardens don’t have to be planted with flowering plants. I love creating miniature gardens using succulent plants. I bring the pot inside for the winter.

Raised planters planted with Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus acinaciformis) in Palma de MallorcaThese simple raised beds planted with mat forming succulent Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus acinaciformis) make a stunning display in spring in Palma de Mallorca.Window boxes in London.Nobody does it better. If you’re looking for inspiration the UK does container gardening at an ubber level.
One of the joys of walking around London is seeing the variation in container gardens to be found everywhere. Irrigation systems are widely used in difficult to reach places.

If you’d like to see how the containers are planted  at the Halifax Public Gardens check out this video courtesy of HRM.

There are lots happening at the Gardens and with the sunshine and warm weather we have been experiencing of late, things are growing in leaps and bounds. Check out our Calendar of Events for a full listing of events. 
Hope to see you at one of my tours on Wednesdays at 10AM. It’s free and it’s beautiful!
Hasta pronto¡

All copy and images copyright © Serena Graham-Dwyer, 2014-2015. If you wish to use any part or whole of an image, in any manner, please contact us.

These are a few of my favourite things…

Here is a collection of gardens that speak of home to me. Literally and figuratively.
These are places that move me, and places that bring me equal measure of wonder and respite.
Two are located in my present home, and the others are found near my home away from home, a former home and my first home.

Some of these enchanting gardens I am very familiar with while others though not intimate, I know enough to love. All are worth a visit.

Cherry (Prunus) petals form a beautiful carpet.My literal home. A garden 17 years in the making.

A wisteria in full bloom.My biggest challenge now is renewing plants. This year I tackled my 19 year old Wisteria. Alas no blooms next year.

Flag (Iris) hedge by the ocean in Bedford NS.An Iris hedge which I started from a piece given by a friend. The flowers from the original decorated my wedding cake 33 years ago.

Ligularia dentata and ClematisI’ve spent over a decade hiding a retaining wall by creating  an early ‘living wall’.

Sítio Burle Marx, Rio de Janeiro.This garden that was true love at first sight. Burle Marxs garden is found near my first home, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A party 'room' at Sítio Burle Marx, Rio de Janeiro.The ‘sítio’ contains an incredible tapestry of plants and artwork, encompassing all styles and mediums but almost all, native to the region.

A water garden at Sítio Burle Marx, Rio de Janeiro.A man who considered himself an artist first and botanist second, Mr. Marx painted with foliage plants.

Jubilee Gates, Regents park LondonFrom a sunny and humid climate to a cool and damp one, Regents park London. My home away from home for decades. London was often my route during my days as a flight attendant and I visited some part of Regents park whenever I was there.

Spring planting in Regents park LondonA wealth of bulbs is an understatement. The British do gardening at an Uber level.

Regents park LondonThere are Mediterranean gardens, rose gardens containing 12000 roses, water gardens and secret gardens. From Victorian to contemporary, Regents park in North West London is 395 acres huge.

The Avenue Gardens at Regents park LondonThis is but of small section of one of the many gardens scattered around Regents park. Some are hidden treasures that reward the visitor with delightful discoveries and intimate spaces so keep looking.

Allan Gardens ConservatoryMy first home in Canada, Toronto. I discovered Allan Gardens Conservatory in the heart of downtown Toronto, with my mother. Ever since we visit annually before the holidays, just when their Christmas flower show is about to start.

Allan Gardens conservatory getting ready for the Holiday SeasonI LOVE being inside a conservatory or greenhouse when the weather outside is frightful. You can stroll  inside where it is warm and bright and filled with colour. I’d give it a minimum ½ hour.

One of the greenhouses at Allan Gardens ConservatoryThe late afternoon sun is equally beautiful inside as out, though it is far more comfortable to linger in its rays inside.

A path inside Allan Gardens Conservatory in Toronto

There is a succulent house, an orchideum (?), turtles and bananas and super enriched oxygen. Benches are scattered around occupied by people sitting with a book and enjoying their surroundings.

Parterre in Château de Villandry, FranceThis part of the world was ‘home’ to me for a short time, a mere six weeks, but it deepened my love of gardening and nature, maturing it into a lifestyle rather than a hobby. Château de Villandry in the Loire valley of France.

Château de Villandry, FranceVillandry where food is grown in parterres in a sunken garden. A very elegant potager.

Château de Villandry, FranceViewed from a floral parterre several levels up.

Main gates at the Halifax Public Gardens 2013Last but by no means least … the Halifax Public Gardens.
It has enriched my life immeasurable and has led me down a path I would never have anticipated.
The story of this garden is a work in progress and the focus of

We hope to see you (well maybe not all 414 of you 🙂 this coming Thursday, December 11 at Horticulture Halll between 5-7PM. Come celebrate the holiday season with The Friends of the Public Gardens.
(FYI: we only take cash or cheque for calendar and other PG themed purchases. A cash bar will be available).

If we don’t cross paths…

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays. Be safe and enjoy spending time with people you care about.

May all your challenges in 2015 be an opportunity to grow.
Happy New Year, Bonne Aneé, Feliz ano novo y  Feliz año nuevo.

All copy and images copyright © Serena Graham-Dwyer, 2014. If you wish to use any part or whole of an image, in any manner, please contact us.