Answer: A very wide range of plants can be grown in containers, so you might want to develop a theme to help you with your selection. In general, the larger the container the better because the larger soil mass will stay moist longer and is less subject to temperature swings. Many gardeners have been using the water holding polymers in the potting mix with good success so you might consider using that to minimize the watering needs.
I don't know of any plants that would be particularly considered insect repellents, although some people seem to find the citronella or "mosquito plants" somewhat effective. You should realize, though, that just about any flower has the potential to attract bees. For this reason you might concentrate on foliage plants rather than blooms up close to the tables.
In terms of specific plants, any suggestion would have to take into account the amount of sunlight and wind your location receives. Depending on those, you could possibly grow herbs, flowers, exotic tropicals, bulbs, or even small trees! Since this is an eating area I would caution you to select plants that do not require routine spraying (roses tend to require it to look their best). Other than that, your choices are very wide. You might want to look at a book or two about container gardening to help you with analyzing the location, making your plant selection and developing an appropriate maintenance regime. One I particularly like is "Container Gardening for Dummies" by Bill Marken, ISBN 0-7645-5057-8, Dummy Press.
All the best with your project!
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