A yearly sojourn to Vietnam: Sumptuous containers inspire a wintry world

Those of you who know me or look at my Facebook posts may have followed my yearly trips to Vietnam to visit my son, daughter-in-law and 3 lively grandchildren. After escaping winter for most of February, it’s been a shock to come home to the wintry world of upstate New York. In addition to missing daily hugs and kisses from the kids, I long for roosters crowing at the break of dawn, birdsong, the hustle and bustle of the city and particularly the lush tropical flowers and foliage. Even in this crowded city, there is no lack of greenery. Verdant parks dot the city, a welcome destination for morning exercise and relief from relentlessly hot sun. Every time I visit, I discover something new. What caught my attention this time were the wild assortments of containers that lined busy streets and tiny alleyways.

Paved streets don’t deter anyone from gardening here. It made me think about how I could enlarge my collection of houseplants, expand on outdoor containers and jazz up my landscape a little more.

`I’ll start with the alley my hotel was on - in the clip below you can see what the walk down it looked like. I miss those birds even though they woke me up every morning.

Below is another shot. Luscious foliage and flowers line the alley, spilling out from balconies and adorning each entrance.

Below is a close-up of one I admired. I’ve often used containers by the door, but it never occurred to me to group them together like this.

Maybe I can’t grow bougainvillea in Upstate New York, but I like the idea of vines by the front door. The pot of bougainvillea in the bottom left looks too tiny to produce all of those abundant flowers doesn’t it? I guess you can get away with growing anything in the tropics. I noticed that they thrive in very little soil on some of the balconies.

Here’s something I could try reproducing at home. I liked the simplicity and elegance of this pairing of trees on either side of the door.

Another take home idea - these containers below tart up a narrow area. Obviously, you can’t have a foundation planting around your house in the middle of a city but one of my son’s neighbors uses a long line of pots along the side of his house. Without them, this alley would look pretty barren.

It was obviously a source of pleasure for the owner, early every morning I watched him tend his plants with loving care. The little sticks at the bottom of each container prevent mice or rats from damaging the plants.

Businesses and residents who don’t have room for containers on the street employ bold foliaged balcony plantings. Yeah, go big or go home!

Talk about getting the most from vertical spaces! I saw a lot of planted walls, but this was one of the most interesting. Every square inch of space has something going on.

Below is the garden that surrounds the Notre Dame Cathedral in HCM. I was dying to get into it, but unfortunately it was closed because of the construction. As you can see, it’s made up entirely of containers. I saw a lot of gardeners hauling hoses around in the early morning. I wouldn’t want that job.

Don’t let a little blacktop stop you from planting. Big containers are the answer to dividing areas in this park. I saw a lot of this.

Make room for some whimsical touches. Planted bicycles are popular, especially in the beach towns we visited.

Who would have thought of recycling laundry detergent containers into planters? These were seen at a glamping site on the beach in Lagi.

Even tires are repurposed and brightly painted.

End of the day entertainment for the grand kids.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one painted red though!

This made me laugh. I guess it’s about as close as you’re going to get to finding a snowman here.

And hey, If you can’t plant, paint. Murals are a common sight. I passed this on a busy city street - my five year old grandson is wondering why he can’t walk down this road.

Doesn’t this look inviting? I love the attempt to mask the air conditioning units.

Back to grouping plants by windows and doors, I think this one looks pretty convincing.

I’ll end on a humorous note - bring your own bird to this cafe. Owners meet up every morning to show them off. On weekends, it’s American Idol for birds. Singing contests are held and bets are placed. Birds are judged on their song and it’s length, the winner takes home the pot. Love this! Might have to consider incorporating a few birds into my houseplant scheme.

Oh well, time to fast forward back across 12 time zones to harsh realities - my interior world of houseplants, grow lights and the frozen world outside. Only 21 more days until it’s officially spring!


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