Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Prepare your summer hanging baskets

Gardening by Clive Sullivan of Cameron Landscapes and Ballylesson Garden Centre

IT'S not too late to prepare your summer hanging baskets and for those of you who venture out into your garden for the traditional barbecue season, here's how to spruce up your patio. Conveniently situated at eye level and providing terrific colour in vertical lines, hanging baskets can transform restricted spaces.

Start by lining your basket with moss or wool. (Tests have proved wool works just as well as moss.) Then place a saucer at the bottom of your basket to help water retention.

Shovel in two inches of wet compost then lay the rootless of three trailing lobelia and two trailing Nepeta inside the basket. gently pushing foliage through the wire and moss.

Add more wet compost then plant your Surfinias (three should do for the top) and to finish if off nicely include a Pelargonium in the middle of the basket.

Unlike in blue Peter I can't say 'Here's one I've made earlier', so you'll have to picture it.

The lobelia will cascade quick colour, especially important until your Surfinias bush out. The Nepata will create the vertical lines of beautifully variegated foliage while the action below will be matched by your flowering Pelargonium reaching upwards.

Don't plant the roots too close - put at least two and a half inches between plants. Annuals are hungry and thirsty beasts so the real trick is frequent watering and feeding.

Baskets inevitably get neglected and dry out quickly, so try to use weed control fabric on any exposed compost on top of the basket to reduce evaporation.

You could also insert a plastic tube into the heart of the basket to pour water straight down so that it reaches the roots faster, a technique used on trees! A little lateral thinking always helps.

Make a note to water daily in hot weather and check every two days in fair weather - just lift up the basket and see how heavy it is.

A final thought - what about a herb basket hanging next to the barbecue? Just reach up and grab some fresh basil or sage for your steak - delicious.

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