Have we gardeners ever enjoyed such a fantastic start to the season?
We have been blessed with warm, sultry days and calm frost-free nights, an ideal beginning to the gardening year.
The blossoms and bulbs have been a picture, their bright , colourful blooms sweeping away any thoughts of the winter cold.
In fact, the only negative aspect of this great gardening weather has been our Water Rates!
Never before at this time of year , have we at the nursery had to water our plants so often , so early in the season.
So now we are in May – the month where the real gardening can begin.
The frosts can be forgotten until Autumn, and the tender plants can at last emerge from the cover of the greenhouse.
Fuchsias, Geraniums and Begonias that have spent the last six months in conservatory confinement , can now be released into their natural habitat.
Their time has come!
The great time about this time of year, is that no matter what size of your garden ; whether you own half of Bucks or a small patio – there are plants that will give you a superb colourful show all season.
There is no doubt, over the last few years, the growth of interest in gardening has been in container planting.
Tubs, pots, hanging baskets, old watering cans, troughs – you name it – anything can be planted up with colourful, low maintenance plants to provide you with a blizzard of summer colour.
The great thing about container gardening is that one can grow a huge array of plants in a small area without having to employ an army of gardeners!
Anyone, anywhere can have a hanging basket. Why not?
A hanging basket is nothing more then a mini garden, your own tailor made piece of summer colour sensation defining your own personality.
And what a fantastic choice of plants you have on offer, for any position or situation.
Even if your garden is in full shade, there are a superb range of plants that will brighten up even the darkest, dreariest corner.
The fuchsia family thrive in shade , they will reward you with strong, vibrant blooms of red, pink or white . An upright fuchsia will provide a strong focal point for a basket or container, whilst the trailing varieties will cascade down, raining colour down on your garden throughout the summer.
Begonias and Impatiens ( the Busy Lizzie) are also shade lovers, their rich, strong tones lighting up any position.
If you decide to place your basket in full sun, the sky is the limit!
Geraniums are the traditional choice. Trailing varieties such as Mini Cascade will give your garden a continental feel – they are seen everywhere in France . These sturdy, reliable plants produce dozens of small, bright flowers right up to the October frosts.
For a larger flower, why not try Rouletta with its showy red and white blooms or Evka which also provides you with a variegated foliage.
For a big bold show, plump for Surfinia Petunias. These plants grow to an amazing size, almost bursting out of their containers with vibrant flowers. One Surfinia goes a long way, so don’t be tempted to overfill your container.
A fairly recent innovation is the trailing Antirrhinum or Snapdragon. These plants provide subtle pastel shades and offer a beautiful contrast to some of the more strident colours.
Bacopa has become a big favourite, as have Bidens and Verbena. Again, these three are foolproof!
Simply pop them in to a container and let them get on with it!
As with any plants, the more you give these summer trailers, the better they will perform.
Do use a specialist compost, one that has been produced specifically for baskets and containers.
This compost will contain the necessary nutrients as well as a water retaining gell to ensure your plants receive the food and water they need to thrive.
I cannot emphasise enough just how much water your container will need to flourish.
Even with the water gel, you will need to water every day, sometimes twice.
One thing to remember that hanging baskets are often under the eaves of a house, so even on a rainy day, the baskets will need to be watered.
Feed them as well! The best bet is a Tomato Food which is high in Potash. This will encourage repeat flowering and keep your garden a riot of colour throughout the season.
So there you have it!
Dust down those hanging baskets and get busy – whether you go for a rich, vibrant mix of eye scorching reds and oranges or a more subtle scheme of pinks , silvers and blues – there are a great choice of basket plants available for every taste.