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
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
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 somefresh basil or sage
for your steak - delicious.
Safe to put out those
BEDDING plants should all be planted, now that five letter
word 'frost' is no longer a menace.
Your hanging baskets shouldn't be put out until June,
however. Bad weather in May frequently hinders hanging basket
development, plus the longer they are sheltered, the bigger,
better and bolder the flowers will be.
Of course here we have to watch out for an attack of the
Clones, which could have devastating effect
I'm not talking about the latest offering from Lucasfilm
productions, but I speak of Greenfly, whitefly, and all the
little creepy crawlies we know and love so well.
They are back with a vengeance, particularly so at a time
of warm humid weather when their reproduction rates seem to
The horticultural laser sword with which to wipe out these
pests ... all of them is Roseclear, surprisingly effective on
lots of flowers.
Of course there are some plants very sensitive to these
chemicals including Fuschsias and Geraniums, in which case you
should blast the enemy with old washing up liquid.
Try 'companion' planting, French Marigold under roses
attract hoverflies which feed on aphids! Try this combination
in a summer pot - mint or garlic confuses the attacking pests,
handy for interplanting with fragrant flowers like Ten Week
As for how bedding should look some say it is best to
repeat a pattern of three colours. Some say big old swathes of
colour either in rows or flowing like a river would look good
under shrubs. Perhaps in a circle bed divided into five with a
white edge of Alyssum.
A good focal point here would be a slender Box topiary
specimen or Cupressus macrocarpa 'Goldcrest'; a striking
upright conifer which smells of wine gums! Beauty lies in the
eyes of the beholder.
Watering and feeding are vital if you want bedding to look
best Miracle-Gro is excellent, but in my experience potash
rich tomato food is just as good.
Don't forget you can use this on anything which flowers or
fruits, including those obstinate old shrubs reluctant to
Look for the NPK ratio on the back of the plant food packet
N is the Nitrogen and makes foliage, P is for Phosphate and
roots, and K is Potash for flowers.
Start feeding now weekly and it will make a big difference,
but don't forget to deal with your pests too, otherwise they
will turn your garden to the dark side!