I was delighted with an invitation to give a garden talk recently. The chosen topic was hanging baskets and the date was set for the Saturday evening of the June bank holiday weekend.
During the preceding week, I visited a couple of garden centre's to pick up some nice plants to talk about, and one loaned me a basket that had been completed a couple of weeks ago, so we could have a 'here's one I made earlier' moment. The colour in the various garden centre's was fantastic, as was the selection of plants. Forty euro later, a boot load of plants and compost, with the sun shining, I was ready for a good weekend!
Unfortunately on the Saturday, as with all best laid plans, the weather decided to do it's own thing and we had 9.6 mm of rain, which was followed by 13.5 mm on the Sunday (or almost an inch over the two days for the non-metric readers!).
So, with a little moving of furniture, the host house very nicely converted their kitchen/ dining room into an indoor demonstration area. Well done to them! And yes, there was compost and plants all over the place, and yes I left it in almost as good a condition as when I found it!!
There was great fun discussing the different baskets and plants to use, colour themes, the traditionally and more modern effects, and of course the 'how to' when making your own (I will cover my ideas on this in a different post).
The topic on what to do after the hanging basket was made (or purchased) was a popular topic and the best advice I can give anyone on this is to NOT hang up your basked straight away, but to place it into a warm location (e.g. on the patio) and allow it to establish, for at least a couple of weeks before hanging; and, once the basket is growing, to get into the habit of taking it down at least once (maybe even twice in August/ September time) per week and soak it in a basin of water for a couple of hours to ensure it is adequately moist - make sure you let it drain for a couple of hours too as it will be very heavy and pull brackets off the wall.
Of course, deadheading is a must too.
I like to use self-watering hanging baskets, as I find they require less work later on in the seasons. Just top up with water and feed when needed (let me know if you want more details on these). The biggest laugh was around how, before I get started, I wash my empty imitation terracotta baskets in the dishwasher when herself is out (sshhh - don't tell anyone!!)
By the end of the evening, we had discussed types of plants, compost, baskets and liners to use, three different baskets were completed, with all questions answered, and some tasty cakes (brought by some industrious attendees) were sampled with refreshments.
All in all, an excellent evening!
P.S. Thanks to helpful tweets from friends, you can now leave comments on this blog!