June 18, 2014

Hanging Baskets for Shaded Places

Can I’ll let you in on a little secret? I am easily sold! It took only three blurry phone pictures to fall in love with our current house in England. Three pictures showing the open floor dining and living area, the brick walled fire place and a thriving little green backyard.

A green Garden! Yes, it was tiny and yes, it had a concrete floor, but it was a GARDEN and obviously big enough to do gardening stuff in it. I had to have that house.

When the first spring season arrived, I was ready – little spade and everything. Unfortunately my thumbs weren’t as green as the ones from the previous owner. The very shady place made it impossible for me to get more than a few thin, fading green leaves out of my plants. To cheer me up my favourite Englishman decided that summer to gift me an allotment. Great fix for my gardening ideas, but obviously no solution to the plant-less backyard.

So when this spring season was about to roll around, I decided on a new approach: Hanging baskets with shade-loving plants.Since the vegetable growing action takes place on the allotment now, all I want to achieve in our backyard space is a humble little oasis full of greens and colours.

Well summer isn't over yet, but so far everything looks good. The key to success seems to come in threes.

First, I focused on finding plants that could possibly survive or even better thrive without much light.
My main resources were What Plant Where by Roy Lancaster (found in thrift shop) and the friendly staff at our local garden centre. I decided on a good mix between annuals (plants that only live one season) and perennials (plants that grow back every year): Ivy, Indian mint, begonia, mimulus, lobelia and pansy’s.
Second, I used a potting soil for seeds and seedling instead of simple compost soil in the hanging baskets. It is a bit more nutritious since the soil in the basket is limited.

Third, I keep feeding the plants regularly. I use Miracle Grow and it works great, I even started to use it on my house plants and they love it. I would recommend it, but have to add that I haven’t tried any other plant food yet. I am also quite ruthless when it comes to removing dead leaves and droopy flowers. In the garden centre they told me the more I keep "deadheading" old blossoms the more I get new ones!
In case you are interested in getting your own hanging baskets up, here a little break down on my how-to. What you need is: hanging baskets with hooks, fixtures for hanging baskets, potting soil, plants (make sure they suit the conditions to where the baskets will hang), a small spade.
We already had 9 fixtures for hanging baskets in our backyard. Four fixtures are hanging along the fence, two along the house side and two next to the backdoor. The latter get the least light; therefore I filled them with the least demanding plants: Ivy and Indian Mint. Both plants are trailing (hanging down) and are also perennial, so hopefully they keep the yard green for a while. In the other hanging baskets I planted a mixture of the annual flowers.
To start with I took the chains of the baskets to have better access and then filled them 1/3 with soil. Then I placed all the plants that I wanted to plant – still in their pots – inside. Next I filled all the gaps around them with more soil. Then I simply took the plant pots back out and removed the plant from it before placing it back in the basket. If needed I filled remaining gaps with soil again.

I am not sure if our backyard deserves the phrase green oasis, yet. However, it is certainly more cheerful with these hanging planters, whose inhabitants are still standing – thriving even – despite a rather rainy, cloudy start to the summer with lots of grey and dark days.

1 comment:

  1. Wunderbar :) Die Fotos könnte ich mir auch als Hintergrundbild installieren. Macht Laune nach Sommer...