Tips for spectacular container plantings; win prizes in Lewiston

girls with container garden at Lewiston GardenFest in Lewiston NY
The container garden contest at the Lewiston GardenFest invites entries from children as well as from adults. Giuliana and Raffaela Genovese last year entered a butterfly garden with information on why we should use plants for pollinators. Photo courtesy Lewiston Garden Club
watering can container planting
What looks like water dripping from the watering can are actually working twinkle lights. Photo courtesy Lewiston Garden Club

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Do you want to show off your splendid container planting? Plant it up now so it’s ready for the contest at the Lewiston GardenFest on Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19.

“It’s one of my favorite parts of the gardenfest,” said Judy Talarico, chairperson of the Lewiston GardenFest. “There’s so much interaction with the community.”

There isn’t any limit on the size of the entries.

“Some containers take two or three people to carry in,” Talarico said.

Visitors vote for their favorites and prizes will be awarded. The prizes come from Niagara County nurseries, the Maid of the Mist and the Aquarium of Niagara.

There is a category for adults and one for children, and “there are almost as many kids as adults entering,” she said.

Find the entry form here.

Tips for planting a container with appeal

Please yourself

Make a container you like. When the contest is over, your container will have a home with you for the rest of the season.

Plan for your container’s future home

Where will you place the container? Will it be on a shady patio or in the sunniest spot in your yard? All of the plants you choose should like the same conditions.

Traditional or whimsical?

There will be two categories for the style of the container: traditional and whimsical.

For traditional, a good rule of thumb is to use a thriller, filler and spiller. The thriller is one or more tall plants, the fillers are medium-sized plants to fill in space, and the spiller is one or more plants to cascade over the edge of the container. The different heights add interest to your container arrangement.

If you want to go whimsical, think out of the box. See more below.

Color scheme

bee themed container  garden at Lewiston GardenFest in Lewiston NY
“Let it Bee” is the theme of this color-coordinated container garden. Photo courtesy Lewiston GardenFest

Choosing a color scheme can make your container attractive, whether you choose the traditional route or go whimsical.

“Because it’s Lewiston’s bicenntenial this year, we may see red, white and blue,” Talarico said.

In a previous year, she did a black-and-white theme with black and white petunias. “That’s my favorite color combination.”


“It’s the 95th anniversary of the Lewiston Garden Club– that’s as long as the Peace Bridge has been around,” said Doreen Albee, treasurer of the Lewiston Garden Club. She wonders whether some gardeners will use the bridge as a theme.

A theme can be anything, including a picnic, a trip to Mexico or why gardeners should choose plants for pollinators.

Think outside the box

“What’s always neat is finding unique containers,” Talarico said. “Go to garage sales, second-hand stores or your own garage.”

“Think outside the box,” Albee said.

Talarico is making an entry with her granddaughter using a wicker doll cradle planted with baby’s breath.

Some containers from past contests were a chandelier holding small terracotta pots, a picnic basket, a bird cage, an inverted glass light shade, a garbage can with Oscar the Grouch and an old fashioned lawn mower (the plants were tucked between the blades).

Examples of whimsical containers

  • Flowers planted in socks, with the socks hung on a clothesline.
  • A potting bench. Flowers were planted in a basin that had drainage holes. Tools accented the bench. “It can make a conversation piece for your garden,” Albee said.
  • Fairy garden in a wagon.
  • Mr. Potato Head entered by a child. The greens were Mr. Potato Head’s hair. The child added eyes to the pot and feet at the bottom of the pot.

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