One of my little retirement projects is to evolve the perfect hanging basket. It’s not going well so far. At my current rate of progress I will be a centenarian before I get it right. This is my sixth year of experimentation here in Brixham, and the years have gone like this:
Year 1: Beautiful, mixed baskets that flowered all summer. That’s because I bought them ready-made from the garden centre at a whopping £40 each! Easy when you’re in gainful employment.
Year 2: Planted up my own selection in the hardware from previous year. I bought mixed plants plants called ‘the hanging basket selection’. It was really boring. Huge amounts of tedious foliage with the odd red flower here and there. If you’d been colour-blind, you wouldn’t have known it was flowering at all. Whose idea was that, Mr B&Q buyer?
Year 3: Forgot. By the time I got to the shops in late May, all the hanging basket plants were sold out. We didn’t have baskets that year.
Year 4: In an early manifestation of the tightwaddery I am currently trying to make into a fine art, I decided to go minimalist. Plants grow to fill the available space, right? So if I just put three in each basket, they will grow bigger. It worked, but I forgot that when one has finished flowering and dies, a third of your display has gone, too. We had baskets that looked half dead half the time.
Year 5: In April I bought a range of lovely, strapping, healthy plants from a local garden centre. By June my baskets were in full flower. Beautiful! Unfortunately, it all peaked too soon, and by July all was over. According to our local horticultural society expert, you shouldn’t put baskets out until June at the earliest.
Year 6: This year, I’m going super cheap. I’ve bought a pack of ‘Hanging basket’ seeds from Trago Mills – 75p!
Adding the cost of basket liners and compost, that brings my five hanging baskets in at under a tenner, instead of the 200 quid they were five years ago. Doesn’t it give you a delicious, tightwad shiver down your spine? It does me!
Things are going reasonably well so far. I could have done with planting the seeds at different times – the nasturtiums (nasturtia?) are all over the place and ready to flower, while the lobelia is still only as big as cress, but I live in hope.
I’ll plant them out next week and get them out ready for the first week in June, as per the horticultural expert. Let’s see what happens.