Well-planted pots can pack a punch totally disproportionate to the number and volume of plants involved.
Beginners over-read some bits of advice, and under-read others. At least that’s my observation from my admittedly smallish beginner sample of one – myself, thirty years ago. I remember leaving potting mix under plastic in the sun so that I could plant azalea cuttings ‘into warmed soil’. The reference book that used these very words didn’t tell me that the soil had to be warmed, and stay warmed, for the duration of the several-month rooting process via a heated propagation unit. I diligently, and uselessly, followed exactly what I was told to do. On the other hand, when I was firmly instructed against buying pot-bound plants, I blithely dumped that advice into an over-warning file, and bought whatever I damn-well pleased.
I love what they do with pots in the UK and through North America – the large, mixed pot thing, in which a whole lot of complementary plants are thrown in together, and jostle it out for the summer.
One of the really big questions is how much garden space should be allocated to good, reliable plant matrix, and how much to seasonal, colourful, ephemeral blast. It’s sort of the same as when you’re dishing up your take-away chinese. How much rice per spoonful of sweet and sour pork? How much background bland to foreground tasty?