What Do You Think?

Dear Readers, this is not actually the  megalith from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’, though I can definitely see the resemblance. No, this is one of two huge containers that I’ve bought for my south-facing front garden, in an attempt to plant something that will extend my flowering season (well, not my personal flowering season but you get what I mean). They are made out of recycled tyres, which is rather cool, and they are heavy, so once they’re in position that is (hopefully) where they’ll stay. However, I have a dilemma, and so I am appealing to your collective brilliance.

The containers are designed to be used indoors or out, so they have an optional internal water reservoir.

After all, if you had put them in your office lobby you wouldn’t want them to drain all over your marble flooring, as this little diagram so clearly illlustrates.

My question is, do you think that the benefits of having a water reservoir in the summer would outweigh the danger of rot during the winter? Once the decision is made to put the plug in, or take it out, I fear that the only way to change it would be to completely empty the container and start again.

I am planning to plant autumn flowering plants such as sedum, aster, perennial wallflower and a bit of catmint in the first instance, followed by some grape hyacinth and possibly crocus for spring (if the squirrels can restrain themselves from digging up every single one of course).

I am in a bit of a quandary. Let me know what you think, lovelies. I won’t hold anyone responsible (except myself, clearly) if it all goes pear-shaped.

19 thoughts on “What Do You Think?

  1. Roger Beeson

    You could drill a hole in the side of the reservoir below the grid, and either fit a bung or a plastic tap. Then you have the option of lowering the reservoir in wet weather.

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  2. Anne Guy

    If it were me and it was standing outside I would leave out the water reservoir and let water naturally drain. If water can’t get away it could freeze then damage the container or could go stagnant.

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  3. janet

    Plug out! Tempting though it may seem, it won’t take much rain to completely waterlog your plants,
    . I tried this with an Indian fire bowl, looked gorgeous planted up. Found it one very wet day, looked like little boats bobbing about on a lake and water running down the outside!
    And I live in Nottinghamshire, relatively dry area of the country too.

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  4. Rosie Crook

    They’re gorgeous! If you’re planting more towards the native or species end of things, might they not prefer drier rather than wetter? Reservoir wouldn’t work up here in the soggy North but maybe your winters are drier? Either way I am thinking you can always add water in but it’s harder to take it out. Shall watch with interest…

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  5. Anne

    Our climate is very different of course, so my comment may not ‘hold water’ for you. I have a similar (though not nearly as heavy) container and the wonder of it is that one does not have to water the plants very often. I doubt if any of the roots of the plants you mention would reach to the bottom of the container so am not sure about the freezing mentioned in other comments (not an issue I have to deal with). I think you will find them a positive addition to your garden.

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    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I think that the reservoir might work if there was one big shrub with deep roots, as you say, but none of the first lot of plants will go that deep for sure. I imagine that having a reservoir is really useful for the drought conditions that you’re having….

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  6. Japh

    I didn’t get on well with containers with reservoirs not sure why but took them out. Are they big enough for a small shrub like winter box, daphne, dogwood or witch hazel for later or early year interest and scent? Dahlias go on quite late until the frosts but need to make sure they aren’t rotted if wet over winter and cover from frost or dig up to protect.

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    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Thanks Japh! I am worried about the reservoirs I must admit. They probably are big enough for a small shrub, but they’ll have to do ‘double duty’ for spring and autumn, so I want to be able to make sure that they have planting for early and late. But I do love daphne and witch hazel, so you’ve got me thinking….

      Reply
      1. Japh

        Maybe winter box is a smaller shrub, mine hadn’t grown an inch and is tiny still after several years! Plus it has a scent maybe would fit with various seasons bulbs and corms like cyclamen. Heathers/Alpines? A few forget-me-nots maybe as they can be dug out when finished and self seed. Spring celandines and wood anemones and calendula marigolds, violets/violas? Bet you will make a gorgeous display. I love wood anemones but have never succeeded in the ground, not sure if they would grow in containers I always fail with trying rhizomes in the ground maybe will try to buy in the green instead, I also failed with seeds! When I was a little girl I thought they were called Wooden Enemies!

      2. Bug Woman Post author

        Wooden Enemies! I love it! And yes, winter box is very slow growing but I love the smell. Lots to think about for sure…..

  7. jay53

    I have several containers on the patio, some of which have the internal reservoir and some don’t. The ones that do are much easier to keep watered in the summer and the plants in them last better and flower better. We are in a very dry part of the country so tend not to have much rain, even in winter, so that might help, but only one of the containers got waterlogged last year. I just tipped it on its side and let it drain, which of course you won’t be able to do with containers that size. I like the suggestion of drilling a hole and adding a plug – an ingenious suggestion which gives you the best of both worlds.

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    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Thanks Jay! I’m almost tempted to do one with the reservoir and one without just to see what happens, in a spirit of scientific inquiry 🙂

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  8. Rosalind Atkins

    My thinking is this: The summer weather we are having, and seem likely to continue to have, will definitely dry out your containers without water reservoirs. Unless they are subjected to massive downpours, which you might managed to deflect with tarps or such like, your plants are less likely to suffer from overwatering in the cooler months, because you are sufficiently disciplined and sensitive to the plants not to let this happen. I’d also consider when you are more likely to be away – I’m guessing in the warmer months, but I could be wrong. So I’d stick them in.

    Reply
    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Thank you, Rosalind! I think I might try an experiment, one with the reservoir, the other without, and just see how they both do – Roger’s suggestion of putting in a tap so I can have the best of both worlds also appeals! At the moment it’s so hot and dry that I figure anything that saves water would be great, but of course if we have a very wet winter the opposite might apply. Anyhow, everything is in flux climate-wise at the moment, it seems, so it’s all a gamble….

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  9. Claire

    I didn’t comment because I don’t know much about gardening, but the comments and exchange are really interesting . I definitely have more problems with overwatering than the opposite…( little flowerpots on the windowsill)…

    Reply

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