Finally, the weather’s warm enough for the traditional British hanging basket, so what’s stopping you? Every patio can benefit from a hanging basket of some description and anything that perks up the patio, sets the rattan garden furniture off to better effect, so who can argue with that?
What to Use
As with any container, what you use says as much about you as what you plant in it. Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen has designed an intricate and exotic hanging basket (Estella) that channels Miss Haversham as much as a chandelier. Personally, I’ve always been inordinately fond of some hanging aluminium pails that grace the side of my house. I rest my case.
Traditional metal frames packed with coir, wicker basket style or quirky junk-shop colanders strung up on chains, there’s something to suit everyone. Do bear in mind that you want your container to echo the decorative scheme of your rattan garden furniture to keep the overall look harmonious. Rattan garden furniture works well with traditional wicker baskets, or with frames that are packed with plants so that all you see is a ball of flower.
A Pop of Colour on the Patio
Remember, a hanging basket is an ideal way to brighten a gloomy corner. You control the watering so unlike a dry shady corner at ground level, a dark corner at height offers more growing opportunities. Similarly, fragrance can be used to make your garden furniture seem more inviting. Be careful not to site a hanging basket directly over a garden chair or bench though –not only might visitors bang their heads, but water is very likely to drip through and leave you with a soggy seat.
When you are thinking about hanging baskets for the patio, do make sure you go for plants that will be at their best when you will be outside enjoying the sight of them while you use your rattan table and chairs.
When you are considering what to grow, think about small evergreen shrubs to provide year round structure as well as the more obvious annuals. Limit your colour palette for a sophisticated effect.
Do it Yourself
Select a basket, and place it on a pot to keep it steady. Add some controlled-release fertilizer granules and some water-retaining gel to peat-free multi-purpose compost. Line the pot with a liner – the best option being one made of coconut fibre. A neat trick to prevent too much water from dripping straight through is to lay a plastic bin liner on top of the fibre cutting it to fit inside the more attractive outer liner.
Put a thin layer of compost in the base of the basket, and then at soil level make three cuts 2cm across through all the layers. Then, to avoid damaging roots and stems, wrap your selected plant in a tube of paper and poke through one of the holes. When the root ball is firm against the liner, unwrap the paper and do the same with the next plant. When you’ve gone round the basket in this fashion, fill the container two thirds with compost and add another layer of plants. Continue to fill with compost ensuring a gap between the top level and the lip of the basket – so when you water, it doesn’t immediately run off.