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Start the garden season early by planting display pots.

Here is a formal, sturdy outdoor pot filled with colorful plants
Here is a formal, sturdy outdoor pot filled with colorful plantsPhoto by Jane Gates

No matter where you live or how small your outdoor access may be, you can start springtime early by planting display pots. A potted garden will create a focal point for an outdoor garden or garnish a small entryway, patio or balcony. You can even put your potted garden together indoors and enjoy it until the weather outside is warm enough to welcome your container-grown landscape.

To start, all you need is some good potting soil and a pot. The pot can be any shape you want, from a flat dish that could house a miniature landscape complete with tiny houses, tables, chairs and little plants that mimic their larger cousins, to a tall narrow tub or urn that will house a specimen plant. Containers can be large or small, grouped or used singly. They don’t even have to be pots. You can use all kinds of ceramic containers or items that were never intended to embrace soil and plants at all, like an old sink, a bathtub or a length of gutter. So long as you cut holes for drainage you can turn anything into a container that will hold soil and water.

The favorite formula for planting a container is to use a tall plant, a filler plant and a spiller plant (that will cascade down the side of the container). This is a useful guideline for an attractive planting. But don’t feel confined. You can play with any design you want.

Pots designed early in the season can benefit from adding bulbs. Bulbs and corms can be some of the most floriferous plants to grow. Most are showy and sport proportionately large blooms. The down side is that they tend to be short lived and you should allow the foliage to yellow before removing it. In pots, you can hide a bulb or two between mounding plants to add a display of color, then, after blooming, tuck the dying foliage behind the other plant until it is brown and ready to remove.

Pair pots on either side of a door for a formal greeting. Cluster different pots to design a whole garden of containers. Or plant a large container with one, large, showy specimen as a focal point.

However you want to design it, you can start gardening at any time of year with the portability of display pots. They can be built and started inside or set out in a sheltered spot. Should there be a cold snap after you put them outside, cover them with burlap, or, if they are easy to move or on a dolly, move them to a sheltered location. Display pots can be planted with tough plants that are comfortable in your climate, too, so you can leave them outdoors year round.