Tuesday, 14 August 2007
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.