Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Hanging Baskets

I don't know if the love of hanging baskets is an English phenonmenon, I can't remember much about seeing any on my trips abroad, though I remember lots of pots of geraniums in Portugal and window boxes in the Black Forest.

They are an ideal way of making the most in gardening terms of a small space, because most English gardens are quite small. We used to live in a little two-up two-down terrace house which only had a tiny back yard and our neighbour Edie used to be a artist with her hanging baskets and tubs. She also had a display at the front of her house, and from her I have got most of my gardening knowledge and naming of plants. For a long time I thought there was a plant called an 'osta' until somebody said it was an hosta, because like a lot of people round here she used to drop her aitches. During the summer she used to spend all day tending to them, and lovingly dead-heading and watering them. She used every sort of container, even an old square sink, like somebody has used a boat above. She also used her net curtains as a form of self expression, having loads of lovely lacy ones which she used to vary. They were whiter than white as she used a special preparation to wash them in and used to dry them on the line in perfect folds.

First pic, you can't even see the basket anymore, it is a sort of flower explosion, suspended in mid air. A impressive summer welcome by the door to the person's house, in the same way people have wreaths at Christmas. A cornucopia of summer abundance and plenty, and I notice that people are indeed using cone-shaped baskets nowadays which makes the classical allusion even clearer.

Preparing a hanging basket is very enjoyable, from choosing the plants, the colour scheme, positioning the plants in the basket for maximum affect, and the watering, which, if it takes place on a summer evening can be a pleasure, not a chore. If you have left it for a few days you can watch it suddenly spring into life after the watering. No heavy digging is required. For the technically minded there are all sorts of complicated watering systems and fertilisers to choose from. Also environmentally friendly as it attracts insects. It is a form of self expression and a garden in miniature, and like a lot of miniature things a lot easier in more ways than one.


Frances said...

I love hanging baskets. This is the first year I haven't got any - because i didn't have the time to sort them all out and I didn't like to hang up the manky things from last year. The plants were okay but the baskety stuff had rotted... yuck! i would have let down the side for all the B&Bs in the road!

Frances said...

I comfort myself with the thought that they probably have them done professionally, like London pubs do.

Sweet Irene said...

Yes, hanging baskets! I had those in California and then they would all dry out and the flowers would die no matter how often I watered them and spoke to them in my sweetest voice. I think they like temperate climates best, not subtropical ones. I admire people who can really keep them going and appreciate the beauty of them. I like them packed top to bottom with lots of moss in between the plants. I think you need to give them a good dunking every day or don't they need that here?

Debi said...

We have hanging baskets around here, but certainly not with that English Garden flair. Let's face it, we don't have anything around here with that English Garden flair.

I enjoy seeing these pictures you've been posting around...Hull, is it? I have to look that up on a map sometime. And Ilfracombe too.

Eleanor said...

Glad to hear you had them in California and Texas, as they are definitely one of life's pleasures.

During the hot summers we have been having for the past few years you had to water them every day, but during a normal year, no you don't. I once got some little globule things which you mixed with the soil and which absorbed water and they were great. I think the substance was the same as the one they use in modern disposable nappies.

Rima said...

My neighbours (funnily enough on either side) have their hanging baskets overflowing with eternally blooming flowers. I haven't yet had the nerve to touch and see if they're plastic or cloth. I'm leaning strongly towards plastic. Top that, high-end neighbourhoods!