Today, gardeners are using California redwood more and more for such diverse purposes as plant boxes, fences, tool sheds, potting flats, outdoor work benches and greenhouse benches. Because of modern methods of selective cutting of redwood forests, the price of redwood is within easy reach of the home gardener.
In addition to being extremely durable, redwood is non-toxic and nearly immune to decay and termites. Its shrinkage is slight, and it has a high resistance to cupping and swelling. Easily worked, redwood glues readily, and holds paint and stain better than most woods. Even when untreated, it survives years of severe weather exposure. In color, it ranges from the rarer ebony-like hue through rose, pink and the white of sapwood. Its grain may be intricately figured or straight and dead true.
California’s mild climate and the patio style of living it engendered has encouraged the use of flowers and shrubs in containers placed about outdoor living areas. As redwood has become available in larger quantities, the idea of gardening in boxes has moved eastward.
With the advent of portable gardening, fertilizing, weeding and watering, instead of remaining in the chore category, have become experiences in nourishment and growth. Also, maximum advantage can be taken of the shorter growing seasons in some sections of the country. After they have been started indoors, young plants may be transferred to garden boxes as soon as the weather permits.
Plant boxes are often a valuable addition to a house. Ribbons of colorful flowers in window boxes have long served as counterpoint to large window areas. Container designs may be used to emphasize horizontal lines or repeat a pattern. Colors can be chosen to match the trim of the house or roof or to provide contrast. Always, a rustic effect is obtained when boxes are allowed to weather.
Brick courts, patios and terraces may tic in house and garden or serve as the garden with use of plant boxes. Large containers planted with shrubs may be placed where foliage is desirable for shutting out a view. Flowering plants relieve an overly stark geometric pattern of brickwork or tile. They provide color and fragrance over a cement apron, and, on a city lot, they enable the owner to satisfy his horticultural cravings.
Plant containers permit greater flexibility of garden design. On the Florentine estates of Italy, great sculptured urns were filled with plants. These were – and still are – studied along with statuary for their design element in formal gardens.
In America, on the other hand, though gardens may be more informal, plant containers can be used in a similar way. A feeling of space and airiness are obtained when individual boxes are used effectively. Conversely, grouped containers can mass color into blocks and patterns. The boxes can be sunk or set above ground. They may be used as border runners for a path or lawn, or they may be tailored to suit any special purpose in the layout of the garden. Needless to say, they add variety to a garden scheme. Being portable, they may be in one place this week, another the next!