Hanging Baskets

by Steve

Hanging basket with petunias and fuschias

Hanging baskets are funny things. They feel a bit dated, a bit fussy. Fussy in how they look, very much a construction, an obvious artifice, and so perhaps a little bit jarring when it comes to a natural space like a garden. They are also fussy in terms of maintenance too, with the constant deadheading and watering. I’m forever fussing around them, watering them even when it rains. I have had too many failed baskets. I have learned that hanging baskets crave attention.

However, on a long brick wall they break the space up really well. They provide a bit of an echo on the long flowerbed on the opposite side of the garden. Excuse the pun, but they make the garden hang together just a little bit better.

And perhaps gardens aren’t natural spaces anyway.

We don’t have a large garden, so we only have three hanging baskets, but I’m already thinking I could just about spare enough time for a few more to fuss over next year. Each one has petunias and fuchsias. This wasn’t a careful plan, they just happened to be the most basket-y flowers available in the garden centre on the particular day in May when it seemed a good idea to plant some baskets.

The petunias are ‘peppy’ and ‘night sky’, night sky in the picture above. They are all pretty striking flowers, unusual and not too pretty, a bit of drama and theatre that suits that artifice of a hanging basket. The hope is something vaguely stylish, rather than kitsch, but I’m not too sure.

They also work well in the baskets as the local slugs seem to love petunias, and only the most intrepid ones make it up there. A few other petunias I had left in their pots to plant elsewhere got striped in no time.

The petunias have done brilliantly in two baskets, flowering well since May. The petunia in the other basket isn’t looking too good now. I may have not fussed enough on that one. Or maybe too much.

I’m not sure the pink of the fuchsias works with the purple petunias, but I like the dynamic of the shapes, at least. And as the fuchsias are only just flowering I perhaps need to live with the combination for a while longer. But I might plan future hanging baskets a little more carefully. I have no idea how to strike the right balance though, in making a display look good without looking stilted. Practice probably helps. And I wonder if the approach is similar to good cooking involving good ingredients. Good plants, simply arranged, probably work well.

I am, however,  a little concerned that the baskets are just a little too much like those I saw hanging outside a chain pub recently. While I have no problem with my garden resembling a pub, I’d rather it resembled one of the good ones.

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