If hip feed troughs strike you as an oxymoron, visit the new 1111 E. Pike Street condos. Designed by Tom Kundig, they'e 27 units of boutique cool, topped off by a rooftop deck. The plantings are mostly drought-tolerant rosemary, phormium and small conifers, growing in round and bullet-shaped feed troughs, painted matte black. It totally changes the look, from shiny to flat and most of all from rural to urban. Smaller plants like sarcococca are growing in galvanized tubs painted the same deep, dark shade.
Galvanized feed troughs must be the most inexpensive large containers (you can buy them at feed stores); just be sure and drill plenty of holes in the bottom so the soil drains freely. I'm wondering now about how feed troughs would look painted.....say, rusty orange, pine green or a dusky shade of eggplant purple?