Belle Decor

Humble But Stylish Garden Containers

By Haskell HarrisApril 22, 2010

I guess it's because I grew up in a rural place but I usually gravitate toward unpretentious things that have a little grit and patina. Which is probably why my favorite photo in the new book Southern Bouquets has a whole lot of both. After all, it depicts baby azaleas planted in tin cans on the back of a pick-up truck. Unlike an arrangement done in a fine crystal vase or silver compote, there's something modern about the tin can idea. Tin cans aren't fussy, they're industrial looking. And they match well with the softness of fresh flowers. 

The book tells fascinating stories behind some of the South's most familiar flowers (like all of the azalea varieties and more pictured below), but I won't spoil the story behind the tin can/azalea connection. I will, however, share a few pointers that the book's author, Melissa Bigner, gave me for trying the tin can idea at home. While she says it's fine to use the vessels for planting a single hyacinth bulb in spring or a batch of paperwhites in winter (as long as you remember to punch drainage holes in the bottom), the look is best suited to fresh cut flowers, since the planted versions will only last about a month before the roots need more room to move around. She also suggests waterproofing the insides of the cans with a thin coat of tar or similar material.

As for me, I'm going to try filling a tin can with loose, casual bunches of fragrant tea roses and put them by my bed. 

Does anybody else have any great humble but stylish garden container ideas? Jelly jars? Glass soda bottles? 

Credits: Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards from Southern Bouquets by Melissa Bigner. Reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith.