May Diary

Containers & Hanging Baskets

Spring has arrived in earnest and the garden centres are brimming with colour and ideas for the forthcoming growing year. There are lots of different plants that you can use to dress up your patio pots and hanging baskets. First choose the type of basket/pot which you consider looks good in your chosen situation. Its important to choose something that looks good with the exterior of your house. Don’t choose a traditional pot if you have a contemporary house. Go for something big, spacious with a simple geometric design. One stunning pot is better than twelve tiny random pots which you will probably trip over on your way to top up your glass of wine. Look at what the pot is made from. Clay will have a longer life span and will look good for longer. Any plastic pot you choose should be hard wearing and durable. Some plastics become brittle and will break up in hard frosts, and then there is always the problem of recycling. Its better to spend a little more and buy a quality item that you can use year after year than something cheap and cheerful which might last for one season.

Pots don’t have to be expensive, if you are working on a low budget then try something different! Go down to your local recycling depot and see what is on offer. For a change try planting up an old pottery toilet bowl or disused chimney pot. The more outlandish the better! Make sure that there are holes in the bottom for water to drain away. Be inventive, it will be a talking point at your summer BBQ.

Morning frosts are still about so anything you plant up should be put in a cool conservatory or greenhouse or covered with fleece during the evening until the end of April. Even then watch the weather. For some who want to know how to grow, buy packets of seeds and seed trays and propagate your own seedlings on the windowsill. Children adore helping, they love getting their fingers grubby and watching the tiny seeds spring to life and grow. Otherwise there are always plug plants, tiny plants already in leaf almost ready to plant up. These are generally very cheap to buy and you select the colours and types of plants you want. Trailing geraniums, lobelia, alyssum, variegated ivy, nemesia, petunias, surfinias, marigolds, fuchsias, the list and the variety of colours are endless.

To create a hanging basket. Take your wire basket and balance it on top of an upright garden pot. Line the inside of the basket with moistened living sphagnum moss or your chosen liner. Mix John Innes No.2 compost with a little Swellgel (keep this product in the shed or greenhouse. My Mum in-law kept hers under the sink in the kitchen, mistook it for dishwasher powder and then put it in the dishwasher!) Add some slow release fertiliser. Plant up the basket in layers, push the roots of one trailing plant at a time from the outside through the moss and the sides of the basket into the mixture and create a circle of plants on the underside of the basket. Add more moss up the sides and more potting mix inside. When you reach the top of the basket put a tall feature plant in the middle of the basket and plant around the sides with more trailing plants. Or if the basket is to be hung against a wall put the tallest plant at the back. Keep watered, deadhead your blooms as they fade and if you think that the plants need some more nutrient during the summer water in a little tomato fertiliser.