Rather than set out a few pots on your patio or a deck, think of your containers as sculptures, fine art and garden ornaments. Container gardens are ideal for small spaces or for segmenting large areas into more intimate clusters. There are many possibilities for garden containers.
Decorative tin cans, old boots, a brightly colored plastic tub--all have been used as containers for plants. Almost anything that can hold soil will work, as long as you can drill holes in it to allow water to drain out. Even that rule can be broken for bog plants and other water lovers.
Create a rock garden in a bonsai pot, or other low container. Use miniature trees, tiny leaved ground covers, river stones and gravel, even small statues or other objects. A series of small "boulders" can outline a dry stream bed and a bit of driftwood can be an old tree.
Gardeners sometimes forget that vines can wind their way up a wall from a large container. Even a wisteria, one of the largest of vines, is amenable to pot culture. Train one on a trellis or simply peg it to the wall or fence and let it ramble. Don't forget trees, either. Dwarf fruit trees are a possibility, as are large flowering shrubs like viburnum that can be trained to a single stem or trunk, giving a small tree just right for a patio.
Half whiskey barrels can be miniature ponds, complete with a small water lily. Just about anything that holds water can be home to a variety of bog plants and a few fish.
Don't forget the birds and other animals, even if all you have is a porch-sized garden. Hummingbirds love fuchsia flowers, and chickadees will explore a dwarf conifer. A saucer of water can be a bird bath and a pot of daisies a magnet for butterflies.
Mixing In The Vegetables
Many veggies are quite ornamental, and adaptable to container gardening. Try parsley among the pansies, tomatoes planted in a hanging basket, chives mixed in with your petunias. Nasturtiums can do double duty as flowers and as salad ingredients, both the blooms and the leaves, with seeds substituting for capers when pickled. Lettuce is especially good for partially shaded spots and you'll have the leaves close enough to pick a few whenever you need them.