‘Practical Container Gardening’ by Stephanie Donaldson


With food prices on the rise, the option for growing own food seems appealing. Even if your home has limited space, there is no reason to say ‘NO’ to gardening. The book, ‘Practical Container Gardening’ by Stephanie Donaldson shares many ideas on everything you need to know about planning, designing, growing and maintaining inspirational pots, planters, window boxes and hanging baskets.


Book Description

The book is an essential guide to successful gardening in containers, outside and inside. It assumes little or no previous gardening expertise and is guaranteed to be tireless source of fresh inspiration for the experienced gardener. Classic designs are included in abundance, but there are also projects that use more innovative materials and ideas – including simple celebrations of a single flower type, exuberantly bright medleys, baskets of heady-scented blooms, luxurious evergreens and ferns, pots for winter cheer, edible displays, herb baskets and much, much more.


It is a book suitable for anyone who is new to this area of gardening. The author begins the book with a preliminary statement about her idea that ‘container gardening is a novel approach to creating your own miniature fruit and vegetable garden. Plants are only part of the equation and decorative containers are readily available’.

The content is marshalled into 2 main sections: (1) the techniques – decorating containers , and (2) the planting projects – a) colour schemes for containers, b) seasonal planters, c) edible collections, d) scented collections, e) difficult situations, f) inspirational containers, g) the young container gardener, h) indoor containers, and i) plant guide.

The approach is almost systematic but there seems to be some flaws in the content’s title and the flow of information leading up to a little confusion. Upon scrutiny, the book’s content can be sum into two parts – the first part of the book explains the concepts and the other part shows the reader the applications.

Getting ‘the techniques’ RIGHT is the emphasis of the book. In this first part of the book, the author laid down the foundations to give the readers a better understanding of container gardening by breaking down the topic to basic modules.

It highlights the types of container and hanging basket; the common plant propagation methods; and the various formulation of compost for different plant requirements; food for plant growth in a container; watering plant in containers; pests and diseases; and the basic rules of container gardening – proper drainage system, the use of appropriate size pot, and methods on retaining moistures of a container plant.

The book illustrates further on the techniques of preparing the container for planting, selecting plants to suit the location, creating hanging gardens, giving ideas on how to plan for a year-round containers harvest and decorating containers, guides readers on how to match plant colours according to seasons, shows readers on ways to create cameo gardens and making best use of space and furniture to bring a positive effect to the surroundings.

The second part of the book, ‘Planting Projects’ cover an extensive area on the application aspect of the techniques mentioned in part one. Ideas on how to handle planting projects are illustrated in pictorial form. The methodology used is similar to a food recipe book, whereby ‘ingredients’ are replaced with ‘materials and plants’ required and followed by step-by-step pictorial directives to achieve the intended outcome.


This section of the book guides readers on the methods to handle container gardening for seasonal plants, edible collections, scented collections, difficult landscape, creative containers, gardening activity with children, and indoor container gardening.

The book is a great source of reference to anyone who seeks beautiful design ideas of traditional and contemporary styles as it contains 150 planting ideas in 1,400 step-by-step photographs.

Click here for more information about the book.


Stephanie Donaldson. Practical Container Gardening (London: Hermes House, an imprint of Anness Publishing Ltd, 1997, 2010)

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