Container gardening in my small front garden


I think some people on my street think that they don’t have a front garden. The council must think this too as they don’t supply us with bins for garden waste, yet they supply the houses just around the corner. When I moved here the neighbours across the street had an amazing container garden and I was keen to have a go too. The first thing I did was rip out the elephants ears to the left of my door, pebble it and add a bench. I left the honeysuckle, clematis, climbing rose and skimmia. Then I added the pots. I grew my first ever tomatoes right there too while I was waiting for my allotment.


I moved in during the Autumn and I planted a load of bulbs. I was so happy when they emerged the following spring and my little garden was full of colour. Spring is extra special to me now because it reminds me of that first year. I do something a bit different at the front every year now and I still look forward to seeing what will emerge each spring. Adam also enjoys planting up the pots and we planted most of these while night gardening last year because we had so little time at the weekends.


To the right of my door we plant into the ground and have a mixture of spring and summer bulbs plus perennials and grasses.


hyacinths-and-tulips  panzies

Look at how this little pot has come on in the last few weeks.




pots_colour2  pots_steps2  rose

I love my Skimmia Japonica (below), it was tiny when I moved in and has really flourished.



Even a house with no garden can have a window box – providing there’s a window ledge! We really enjoy planting up matching boxes for the front windows and changing them throughout the seasons. I’m really happy with the trailing pansies this year.


My friend recently said that she couldn’t grow anything on her shady patio, but I look at her patio and think that I could do so much! I’ve bought her a book about plants for shady areas for her birthday so she will either love me for that or it will live on her bookshelf forever! My front garden is south facing so I have the opposite problem and there are some plants that just dry out and bake but trial and error over the years has told me what works and what doesn’t and I just relocate plants from the front if I feel they’re struggling.


So for anyone who says their garden is too small, too shady, too sunny, needs too much watering I think perhaps they’re not so interested in gardening because where there’s a will, there’s a way. After all, nature has a plant for all these ‘problem’ areas. Even in the height of summer the plants in my sunny front garden thrive in the pots with just a quick watering in the morning and evening.

Have you got a too shady or too sunny area in your garden and how have you got around it? Do you enjoy container gardening?

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61 Responses to “Container gardening in my small front garden”

  1. Samantha Fernley May 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    It is very pretty, I love the window box with the trailing pansies – I must buy some. I have various containers on my decking area with herbs, bulbs, 3 x blueberries, a kerria, a monkey puzzle tree (!) and a liquid amber tree. The latter are to screen us a little from next door. My biggest problem here are the snails.

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 5:10 am #

      Wow you containers sound amazing! A monkey puzzle tree!!! I would love to see that. Ah, I forgot about snails, yes I have a few of those too! Adam is trying copper tape at the allotment but it looks rather unsightly so I’m not sure I’d do that at home. Thanks so much for your comment, your containers sound awesome!

  2. gardeninacity May 2, 2013 at 3:12 am #

    This reminds me of the first apartment Judy and I lived in. It was on the third floor of a three story building. There was a neglected back yard along the alley looked down upon by the back porches of nearby buildings. There was an ugly chain link fence along the alley. In our first common gardening venture, Judy and I planted marigolds and petunias in the yard and morning glories on the chain link fence. The landlord couldn’t believe that we would spend our own money to make his property look nice.

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 5:13 am #

      You’re definitely keen Jason! I’m really enjoying looking at how your garden is growing. I’m waiting to see photos of your pots of tulips!

  3. Charlie@Seattle Trekker May 2, 2013 at 3:14 am #

    I love container gardening and I am always looking for ideas and inspiration. Your photos are engaging and so much fun, so full of beautiful plants and ideas.

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 5:15 am #

      Hi Charlie! That’s kind thank you. I certainly like it when I walk up the street and see all the colour. I just want to add more and more!

  4. Cathy May 2, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    It looks so pretty and welcoming outside your front door! Lots to water I suppose, but worth the effort. I have pots everywhere in spring and summer too!

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 7:44 am #

      Hi Cathy! Thanks so much! I’d love it to be even more crammed full really, like those lovely cottage gardens. I enjoy watering it and it doesn’t take too much effort. Glad to hear you like your pots too! Hope you’re having some nice sunny weather :) thanks so much for your comment!

  5. Christina May 2, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    I don’t have many pots, although I do have lemons, limes and an orange in pots as they wouldn’t survive outside. Last year I planted up large pots with plants that don’t need too much water otherwise here it would be a big problem. I love how you’ve made the most of your front garden, it looks lovely. Christina

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 8:15 am #

      Hi Christina! Thanks so much :) How wonderful to have lemons, limes and oranges!!! Yes, I’m sure in your climate keeping ontop of watering is quite tricky. Everything dries out so quickly in my greenhouse where the temperatures are higher even with the windows open! I just love your garden and I hope you’re having some lovely weather :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  6. Sue@GLAllotments May 2, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    I bet passers-by love it or even sit on your bench to enjoy! Even wohout a window sill people could add brackets for a window box.

    • Sue@GLAllotments May 2, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      Should read without not wohout :(

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      Hi Sue, This is very true! I love those pots that are just screwed to walls with brackets, they look amazing. Basically I think if you enjoy gardening then you like to grow and to look! We had a big snowman sitting on that bench over the winter and cats love it! I enjoy doing a bit of ‘working from home’ on that bench but the only problem is the screen can be hard to see. I’m hoping my new dog will hang out there with me soon, she is very nervous on my street for some reason? Still settling in I guess! Thanks so much for dropping by!

  7. home, garden, life May 2, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Lovely petite garden! This shows your talent for making beauty in a small space. I am sure you inspire others and even your council! Kudos! Never suppress your love of beauty, flowers, and the seasons!

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      Hello Diane! Ah thanks so much! I just enjoy it and I hope it brightens the street up! Thanks so much for your encouragement :-)

  8. Jo May 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    It looks lovely, and so welcoming. Containers are a great solution for people without gardens, I used to grow all my veg in containers before I had my allotment, and I still use them now even though I’ve got the plot. I think flowers look great in them too, and they can be grouped together to give an impressive display.

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

      Hi Jo! Thanks so much! I agree, they are so useful for a number of reasons and you can get more out of a small space that’s for sure! Thanks for dropping by :)

  9. croftgarden May 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Beautiful Skimmia! What a lovely display and welcome to your house. I hope your example is infectious and it spreads along the street; so many “front gardens” are worse than neglected!

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      Hello there! I have to say there’s a lot of ‘worse than neglected’ front gardens but it’s a nice area and the houses with the little driveways all make something of their gardens so its either a lack of interest or they just don’t think their front space can be used to grow things. I hope the neighbours get some ideas, more and more do seem to try something. Thanks so much for your comment :-)

  10. Caro May 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Hi Anna, What a wonderfully colourful space! I can see why you love it so much! Even though pots are hard work, I have LOTS of them on my tiny balcony as I love to look out onto so much greenery. One year I planted an achocha which grew and grew until it partially screened the balcony, like a grapevine but with tiny peppers! I have a few plants in pots down in the veg patch gardens but really want more. I also have snails enjoying the comfort of living in or on my pots but I hunt and squish so that the birds have breakfast. ;)

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Haha! Hello Caro! What a lovely treat for the birds and very much in tune with nature! I adore crammed balconies! My parents have one now and I’m trying to convince them to decorate it to the max! They love gardening but are quite traditional I guess and having never had a balcony before they’re a little unsure of it. I’d love to eat my breakfast up there surrounded by foliage or just chill in the evening! Hope you’re keeping well and having some good weather in London. Thanks so much for dropping by :)

      • Caro May 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

        Hi Anna, keeping well but sooooo busy with college work and paid work! Frustrated at not be able to just garden ALL DAY LONG! Looking forward to doing some planting over the weekend and eating another of my lovely home-grown windowsill salads – yum!

  11. Ricki Grady May 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    We have a large property, but I still like planting up a lot of pots. They allow staging to show off what is at its best at any time by just moving things around. They can be used to plug gaps in in-ground plantings. I will often keep a special tree or shrub in a large pot for a few years before deciding where it should go. With bulbs, growing them for the first year in pots lets me see where they will fit into borders at bloom time. If I try to add them to borders in the fall, I’m sure to slice into existing bulbs with the spade.
    Your entry looks wonderful and inviting. I don;t see how your friend can resist, with you for an example.

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

      Hi Ricki! Ah that’s so kind and some great container gardening advice!!! I too keep special shrubs and plants in containers while I’m deciding what to do with them! I have a nice heuchera in a basket half buried into the soil while I’m still deciding! Great idea about squeezing bulbs in too. It’s such a shame when you slice into existing ones isn’t it! Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your potting experiences! :)

  12. Crafty Gardener May 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Your pot garden looks lovely. I found your blog on Blooming Blogs.

    I’ve got a large pot garden too, even though I have lots and lots of room to make gardens in the ground. It is just so hard to manage them. With pot gardens I can move the pots around to feature the blooming ones and plop the pots into spots in the garden that need a splash of colour. I’ve got a north facing shade garden and grow hostas, bleeding heart, solomon seal and astillbe right in the ground. These give lots of lovely foliage. I’ve had great luck with hosta in containers too.

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

      Hello Crafty Gardener! Wow! Your pot garden sounds awesome! It does give you that extra flexibility to move things around as and when you choose, you don’t have to wait until a certain time of year to move a plant, you can just move the pot! It’s great to hear you like this type of gardening too :) Thanks so much for dropping by and I’m looking forward to checking out your blog too! :)

  13. Hannah May 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    It looks wonderful! I bet it’s an inspiration to others on the street.

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      Hi Hannah! Ah, thanks so much! I do love it when I see other people gardening and giving things a go. I see a few people walk past and have a look so hopefully it brightens up the street! Thanks so much for your lovely comment :)

  14. Lorna May 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Your front garden looks fabulous.

    • Anna B May 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      Thanks so much Lorna :) I’m really pleased you like it!

  15. Janet/Plantaliscious May 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    The thing I love most about planting in pots is that you can change everything around every year, play with new combinations, and re-arrange things much more easily than having to dig things up and move the in the main garden. The only things in pots at the moment are the herbs waiting for the herb garden to be built and the plants waiting to be planted out. Oh, and the salad onions and radishes, which are perfect for pots, wish I’d known that before! My current container dilemma is in the shape of a black stone trough that sits in full shade by the front door. I can’t decide what to put in it, but I want to use it there rather than taking the easy way out and moving it into the sun.

    • Anna B May 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Hi Janet! I love that flexibility too and my spring onions never grew until i put them in pots! Well, I forgot to take my friend’s book when I met her today so I’ll have a sneaky look and see if there’s any ideas for your shady trough in there! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  16. Cathy May 3, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    These look fantastic Anna – I will have to go back and have another more leisurely look. The last photo was stunning! It was really worth all the effort you and Adam have put into it. I had already decided as I tidied the garden up over the winter that I must put a real concerted effort into pots this year. It just takes a bit of organisation, doesn’t it?!

    • Anna B May 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      Hello Cathy! Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Planting them up with bulbs for spring definitely requires some organising in the Autumn/winter but no more so than if you were planting the bulbs in your garden. Plus you can move the pots around as you wish so it’s actually a really easy and flexible way to garden I think. I just basically bung pots anywhere! I have loads at the allotment too and they just get watered along with my other plants each evening in the hot weather (when we get hot weather!!!) thanks so much again for your lovely comment, I’m so happy you enjoyed my post!

  17. wellywoman May 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Loving your front garden, it looks so welcoming. So few people do anything with their front gardens. I guess because they tend not to be very private. Even a tiny space can be made to look beautiful with only a few plants. I have to admit though in recent years I’ve become less fond of pots, mainly because of the watering needed. I think having 2 gardens and the allotment to look after is enough watering for me. Although I do have 2 large zinc baths which I plant up. I do want to do a bit more around the front door – possibly put in a climber. You’ve got me thinking. off to Malvern next week so hopefully I’ll be inspired there.

    • Anna B May 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      Hello Wellywoman! I must admit I love my climbing rose on one side and the clematis on the other. The clematis being the easiest of the two and the most impressive! Even just one of those by the door is enough to make a real impact I think. I hope you enjoy Malvern! You might see some other bloggers there!! Thanks so much for your lovely comment :)

  18. Nadezda May 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Anna, I love your containers with nice flowers, I try to grow some of them in containers (vases, boxes, big pots) as well. Tulips look very pretty in spring now. Do you replant others flowers in your containers when tulips end to bloom?

    • Anna B May 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

      Hello Nadezda! Thanks so much for your lovely comments! If the tulip bulbs themselves are very small then there’s a chance they wont come back so I usually discard them and plant new ones in there or layer on top with temporary plants like pelargoniums. I tend to store spring pots over the summer and just bring new pots out full of summer plants! The key to that is good labeling! Some last all year round of course, the pyracantha to the right of the door, all the succulents. That’s the nice thing with lots of pots, you can just swap them all around!

  19. angiesgardendiaries May 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Inspiring containers Anna. I like what you have created. I don’t display my pots to their best, I may even take a leaf out of your book! I tend to grow plants in containers if they won’t do well in my garden. I’ve lots of things that like well drained soil and my garden is certainly not very well drained.
    I can see me gatherin all the pots and staging them around the front door! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Anna B May 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      Hi Angie! That’s wonderful! I really hope you have fun and success with your pots! Thanks so much for your kind comments :)

  20. Anna May 3, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    What a glorious splash of colour to come home too Anna. I don’t plant up many containers simply because of the watering aspect – getting lazy in my old age :) I do have a few outside the front door where we have a north facing courtyard. This year I’m going to return to mainly foliage plants – hostas, heucheras, ferns and grasses maybe with the odd flower thrown in.

    • Anna B May 4, 2013 at 6:16 am #

      Hi Anna, you can’t beat a good bit of foliage! I love all those plants, especially heucheras! Thanks so much for your comment and I hope you have some great gardening weather this weekend! :)

  21. notjustgreenfingers May 4, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    I love plants grown in containers too, though I don’t have many as I don’t have anyone to water them when we go on holiday…maybe when my girls get older and want to stay at home I can get back to planting more?

    • Anna B May 4, 2013 at 8:47 am #

      Hello there! For a few years in a row I went on holiday at crucial times in the gardening calendar! Gardening can be very high maintenance! I’ve lost a few things in pots before but I just re-do them. I remember one year my sister did the watering for me, she did a great job but she watered my lewisia! A plant that really doesn’t like it, so I had the opposite problem there. It did die and I was sad! Most things I have now are fairly low maintenance. Thanks so much for dropping by, I hope you have a great bank holiday weekend! :)

  22. thesneakymagpie May 6, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    I love your pots, so happy and cheerful. I am a big fan of containers and usually have flowers and herbs. I am also preparing big containers for annuals this year to see how they act as a cutting garden. Hope you are having a great long weekend, the weather in London is beautiful.

    • Anna B May 6, 2013 at 8:09 am #

      Hello sneaky magpie! I’m glad you’re having the good weather too! Your pots for cut flowers sound like a brilliant idea! I look forward to seeing those! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  23. Weeding the Web May 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Looks really lovely. I’m a sucker for tulips. In our area, people seem to be doing nothing but paving over the front garden. If we’re lucky they leave a half-moon shaped bed against the fence, but a lot of the time it’s paving wall to wall. Your display really gladdens the heart.

    • Anna B May 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

      Hello there! Funny isn’t it how some people want the easy option and pave over, yet pots are sooo easy!? It baffles me. They just need to give it a go. That’s the thing with gardening, you learn by doing so you just have to give it a shot.Thanks so much for your kind comments! I’m glad you like it!

  24. Home and Garden May 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    i love your flower pots.your front garden is a dream!!! thanks for sharing!!
    wish you nice days in your garden,

    • Anna B May 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

      Hello! Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I wish you happy days too :)

  25. rusty duck May 15, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Hi there, just found you from Jo.
    I really must think about having bulbs in pots. I’d started out trying to grow them in the borders, to save on watering, but the mice have had the lot! I’ve really missed having tulips this year. Perhaps I need to bury them under chicken wire. It would keep the squirrels out too.
    I’ve read back a little way through your blog.. love it!

    • Anna B May 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      Hi Jessica! Thanks so much!! I’ve just seen that Jo has linked to my blog. How lovely of her! Squirrels are a problem with my bulbs after I plant them and before they start shooting so what I do with my pots is just keep them under a net cover or in my greenhouse or cold frame until they start growing. That’s the nice thing about pots – they’re portable! Bulbs do look great in borders too and yeah maybe you could cover them with cloches or wire until they grow. That would fool the critters! Thanks so much for your lovely comment and for dropping by! :)

  26. Linda May 17, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    My daughter rents her terraced house and has a small courtyard garden at the back. All her plants are in containers to save on space and be able to transport if need be. It’s a cosy little space which she enjoys relaxing in. I’ve come over from Jo’s blog and will be following your interesting blog.

    • Anna B May 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      Hi Linda! Pots are a great way to fill a courtyard and if you do rent then a brilliant way to take your garden with you! Thanks so much for your comment. I’m really pleased you enjoyed your visit! :)

  27. snowbird May 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    What a lovely post and what a delightful blog you have. I love all those pots by your front door. Marvelous. Over from Jo’s, well worth the

    • Anna B May 20, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      Hi Snowbird! Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I was made up to see Jo’s blog post. I enjoy her blog very much too and now I have some new blogs to read as well, which is great! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  28. Claire May 21, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    I love your containers, however I wanted to know how much time and energy you have to spend on watering them! I have a gravel and tiled area at the front and do have some containers but not nearly enough as I would like. I have quite a few at the back as well so by the time I’ve watered them all I am pretty exhausted which is really the barrier to having more. No convenient point for a hose at the front so it means back and forth with a watering can…

    Bravo for your display anyway!

    • Anna B May 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      Hi Claire! Thanks so much! I’m wondering what to do with some of the pots that have gone passed their best, I’m looking forward to creating a new summer display! My tulips are still wonderful though and I’ve been so happy with the window boxes. The most time I spend on them is thinking about what to do next! I water them around every other day. In the summer every evening. Because they are close together this is no big deal at all. In fact I find these pots easier than my borders, there’s no weeding to do! So about 2 minutes watering them each night in the summer and about 2 minutes 2 or 3 times a week in spring – weather depending. I can imagine that if you have a few different places to water it would add up. I find watering very relaxing though. I love watering my allotment! Now that is time consuming though! The pots are a breeze compared to that. I hope you enjoy increasing your pots if you decide to go down that path. Thanks so much for dropping by. I love the name of your blog!! :)

  29. bbrunophotography May 24, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    I actually like the challenge of container gardening as much as in-ground gardening. It’s fun to add height by arranging potted plants on steppingstones or small crates. Your garden is lovely and I enjoyed this post a lot.

    • Anna B May 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      I agree! Thanks so much for your comment :)


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