Container Gardens can be as meaningful as they are beautiful.
Like a living tussie-mussie, plants can be chosen for garden pots by more than just their color or size. You can make your containers really stand out by choosing plants based on their legends, symbolism, historical uses, or religious meanings.
For instance, a pot of basil at the front door means “Best wishes!”. Couple that with many multi-colored pansies, which stand for “loving thoughts,” and you have a very eye-catching and welcoming entry.
Hopefully, you will find some fresh inspiration here for your container gardens.
Happy Birthday Flowers Container Garden
Happy Birthday! So often, we say it with flowers. Try this thoughtful planting of Happy Birthday Flowers for the next birthday gift you give.
In a beautiful, festive container, put one colorful Chrysanthemum right in the center. They are available almost year-round at your local nursery in many different colors.
Around it plant several small Basil plants. Basil isn’t usually considered an ornamental plant, but its leaves are so aromatic and such a lush shade of green, they are a great compliment to almost any plant they are potted with. If you can’t find any at your local nursery, try your local specialty grocery store, where they often carry potted basil to use in kitchen gardens.
The Victorian ‘Language of Flowers’ gives chrysanthemum the wonderful meanings of Optimism, Joy, and Long Life. Basil means ‘Best Wishes!’. What great thoughts for someone on their birthday!
“Happy Anniversary” Container Garden
Anniversaries mark important milestones in our relationships. Whether it’s your one-month dating anniversary or your 25th wedding anniversary, it is a special occasion.
Though red roses are traditional for “Love,” try this pretty combination as a gift for something different.
Hosta, with its luminous leaves, means “Devotion.”
Ferns in their myriad forms mean “Fascination.”
White Azalea means “First Love,” and what is a better reminder of the first flushes of your relationship than that?
Combine multiple forms of these shade-loving plants in a simple pot and wrap in a colorful ribbon with a card attached that tells the plant’s meanings for a memorable gift.
What do you give your dad for Father’s Day? A new tie? Some golf balls? In the Victorian era, it was common to give flowers to men, especially if it used the meanings of flowers, not just the type or color. Go a little farther this Father’s Day and give your dad a half barrel full of plants for his front porch that tells the neighbors what he means to you.
Soft Lamb’s Ear plant (Stachys) meant “gentleness and support” in the Victorian Language of Flowers. Put several of the soft grey plants around the rim of the barrel.
Lavender stood for “Devotion.” The silver-grey of the lavender leaves will complement the lamb’s ears very well.
Giving a man any sage plant tells him that “you admire his wisdom.” Put one or two large red flowering sages in the center of the barrel to add spikes of hot color.
Give your dad a card that describes what each plant stands for and see if he doesn’t share it with his neighbors…
Honor your mom this Mother’s Day with the flower symbolism in this simple and elegant container idea. These types of plants are easily found at your local garden center. The names of plants that you will be using are:
Due to its cradling nature and habit of growing close to its host, Moss has given it the time-honored meaning of “Maternal Love.” Parsley, in the Victorian Language of Flowers, stands for “Thanks.” So these types of plants combined in a simple pot mean, “Thanks, mom, for loving me, and I love you too!”
This is an easy project.
1) Go to your local gardening center and pick out the two plants with the flowers symbolism shown above – moss and parsley. Moss comes in a few different forms. Look for it in the ‘ground cover ‘ section of the garden center. Parsely will most likely be located in the garden center’s ‘herbs’ or ‘vegetable’ section. If not, it can easily be grown from seed.
2) Choose the right container. Make it something that relates to your mom. Does she love certain colors or shapes? Consider where she might put this container. Moss and parsley will need some good direct sunlight a few hours a day. They would do well in a kitchen window. What color is her kitchen? What about a more creative container? Does she sew? How about an old sewing box? Does she bake? This would look great in an antique cake mold. Be creative…you get the idea.
3) Choose a good-quality bag of potting soil.
4) Fill the container with the potting soil and tuck the plants inside—water well.
5) Include a card with the gift that includes the flower meanings and your thoughtful expression of thanks to your mom.
A Mother’s Day Garden
What do you usually give your mom for Mother’s Day? Roses? A cookbook? This year for Mothers Day, why not give your mom something besides roses? A planting of coneflowers and lemon mint will brighten her day AND tell her how much she means to you.
Coneflowers come in many colors – purple, yellow, orange, rusty red, bright red, and pink. Pick her favorite. Lemon mint has a wonderful scent when crushed and, as a bonus, makes a great tea when steeped for 10 minutes in boiling water. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, these flowers meant:
Coneflower (Echinacea) – Skill, Capability
Lemon Mint – Virtue, Homeyness, Cheerfulness
Get Well Soon!
When a friend or loved one is ill, oftentimes we say “Get Well Soon” with a card or flowers. How about sharing the same sentiment by putting together a planting of two wonderful herbs?
Chamomile is known as “The Plant Physician.” It has been used for generations as a medicinal herb. You can use all parts of the plant. Please pick up a good herbal book and see its many uses. As a bonus, the flowers are pretty and aromatic and can make a nice hot tea.
Next to it, plant some Yarrow. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, Yarrow means “To Your Health! May a cure be found!” What a great way to send a little cheer to a friend.
“You Are A Fascinating Woman!” Container Garden
1) Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)- Feminine Beauty
2) Fern (Asplenium trichomanes)- Fascination
This striking but subtle container garden combination directly reflects its striking but not-so-subtle meaning.
Originally from South Africa, Calla lilies have an undeniably sensual and feminine shape. Artists from Georgia O’Keeffe to Diego Rivera have tried to capture the womanly grace on canvas. The Victorians recognized the flower to represent feminine beauty and grace. Legend holds that Calla lilies sprang from Eve’s tears as she and Adam were banished from the Garden of Eden.
Ferns come in many fascinating shapes and sizes. Between 1840 and 1900, the Victorians collected ferns almost obsessively, which may have contributed to ferns given the meaning of “fascination” in the Victorian “Language of Flowers.”
A quaint old custom was to cut off the front of a fern close to its base. The initial of your future spouse would appear on the cut stem.
Put these two shade-tolerant plants into a roomy container and give them to a woman who fascinates you.
House Warming Gift
Need an idea for a meaningful housewarming gift? Instead of the usual suspects, try this cute kitchen container garden instead.
Find a small trug that will fit three small pots. In each of the three pots, put the following herbs:
Comfrey – it means “Home, Sweet Home” in the Victorian Language of Flowers.
Peppermint – stands for “Warmth and Hospitality.”
Lavender – it wishes the new home-owner “luck.”
Not only will this gift smell wonderful, but it will provide useful herbs for their kitchen!
January Container Garden – A New Year!
1) Rue – Clear Vision
2) Chrysanthemum – Optimism
3) Thyme – Courage
4) Parsley – Beginning
This container garden portends a good year ahead. This planting holds wishes of optimism and a clear vision for the future, as well as the courage to forge ahead from the beginning. This would be a wonderfully unique hostess gift for that New Year’s Eve party.
Remembering Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a set aside to honor those people who have given their lives for the United States of America. The democracy that we enjoy is built directly on the shoulders of these brave men and women.
Here is a unique way to honor loved ones on this day. Giving this container to the spouse, parent, or child of someone lost during wartime would be a wonderful way to show them that you are thinking of them and the sacrifice they have made for us all.
Choose a container at least 24″ across. Fill with a good potting mix. In the center of the pot, place a pot marigold (Calendula). Pot marigolds stand for “remembrance” and “grief” in the Victorian Language of Flowers.
Around the pot, marigold plants several parsley plants. The Curley parsley will offset the calendula’s long leaves and make the flowers appear as if they are floating on a puffy cloud. Parsley stands for “Thanks” in the Language of Flowers.
What a great way to say “Thank you! I remember your loved one and grieve with you on this Memorial Day.”
Every country has a patriotic holiday, whether it’s American Independence Day, the French Bastille Day, or Australia Day down under. Often floral gifts are given in colors that honor a country’s flag. Perhaps the national flower is given, too.
Here is an idea for a patriotic container that it can universally give on a national holiday.
In a generous container, plant a few Strawflowers (HELICHRYSUM bracteatum). They come in a crash of bright colors, many striped in multiple tones. These flowers do double duty in that if they are cut, they retain their colors when dried.
In the Victorian Language of Flowers, strawflower means “never-ceasing remembrance.” (It’s nice that they also look like festive frozen fireworks when in full bloom!)
Around the strawflower, scatter a few seeds of Nasturtium (TROPAEOLUM). You could also plant some young plants, but the seeds germinate so readily that unless you’re after instant gratification, you don’t need to.
Nasturtiums come in many bright colors that Strawflowers do, but the reds/oranges/yellows/maroons are the most popular. Nasturtium means “Patriotism” in the Language of Flowers. (As an aside, remember that fresh Nasturtium flowers and leaves taste great tossed into a salad at a picnic!)