Gardening in Containers: Creative Ideas from America’s Best Gardeners is a great book if you want specific project ideas with instructions.
The book is divided into five sections: Containers in the Garden, Designing Container Plantings, Selecting Containers, Container Gardening Primer, and Great Container Plants. Each section is divided into projects (there are 27 projects in all) and has detailed color photos and illustrations (which I really appreciate!).
The projects are all “do-able,” they’re not totally crazy projects that would require thousands of dollars in tools or years of gardening experience or take a ridiculously long time to complete. The instructions are thorough without being dry or overly long. When I say “instructions” I don’t want to give the impression that they are a numerical list of steps. Rather, it’s more like each project was written as a magazine article (which isn’t surprising considering that Fine Gardening created the book). Typical projects are things like creating a water garden in a container, window boxes to suit the season, building your own planter box and growing your own herb standard.
The only negative thing that I have to say about the book is that some of the plant names or cultivars are left out. For example, there is a photo of a container with a Canna and a Coleus planted together that looks amazing, but the caption says, “Coleus and Canna make fanciful partners. Canna stars as the centerpiece, while coleus blurs the container edges.” The accompanying text is equally bereft of the name of the specific type of Canna or Coleus. What if someone wanted to recreate that exact container? Of course they could guess which cultivars were used, but it would be nice not to have to work that hard.
Here is one of the articles that is in the book, if you want to check out the book for yourself before buying it/borrowing it from the library: Container Plantings in the Shade Yield a Fantastic Garden.