There is something about a hanging basket, packed to the brim with colourful annuals that brings a sense of fulfilment to any budding gardener. This glorious, growing posy often reflects the person who has planted it. It may be bubbling over the top with cascading clouds of petals looking every bit as breathtaking as Roman ruins. Or it could be gently stuttering with suggestions of what is to come like the dipping dimple on a baby’s bottom. The endless mixtures of plant variations that may be planted means that so many are individualistic whilst others are simply textbook in design.
I had my first hanging basket at around the age of twelve. It was rather a large basket that my father bought for me along with a packet of moss to line it’s metal shape with. I pondered about what plants I should put in it when my grandfather presented me with a beautiful pale pink, slightly mauve, ivy leaf, trailing geranium. He had grown the plant from a cutting taken off a plant he had purchased the previous year. The plant, flourished in the basket and every day it appeared to magically get bigger and more eye-catching. By the end of the Summer it looked like a large flowering ball and complete strangers would stop and comment about how lovely it looked.
My grandfather had a magical touch with plants. Every Summer his greenhouse was always bursting at the seams with tomato plants that were full of large, ruby red jewels of fruits. I loved to pick them and suck in their rich smell. There is something quite magnificent about the smell of a freshly picked tomato. My grandfather’s garden was very small but he grew runner beans with military precision around two sides of it and they were the thickest and tallest bean plants I have ever seen. Every year he would dig out two trenches which he lined with newspaper then he would toss in the kitchen waste and finally place soil over the top. The kitchen waste would turn into rich dark loam … I have never seen anyone make compost like this - but it worked remarkably for him.
I tend to choose geraniums and fuchsias mainly for the hanging baskets now - sometimes adding another plant that may have caught my eye at the garden centre. Each year, somehow they do tend to look different … the trick to make them look flourishing is to water every morning and evening. It’s not the quantity of water but the regularity that makes them grow well and evenly. Added to this, an occasional feed with a general fertilizer can make a vast difference to the the amount of blooms that are produced.
Although mine are filled with flowers, more and more people are using hanging baskets to grow plants such as strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, mixed herbs and even potatoes …