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Articles for your March gardening pages

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Pop some autumn colour in your garden

Do you miss your bright, summer garden flowers? Or do you feel like your garden has passed its best-before date? The good news is that with the arrival of autumn, (on the calendar at least) you can now start prepping your flower garden for the cooler months ahead. And there’s no better place to start than with some hanging baskets.

Baskets are the garden for everyone. Whether you’ve got a large garden or only a small apartment balcony or courtyard - they’ll inject colour and lift the mood of any area. You can attach them under verandas, at your front door or hang them from garden walls or trellis.

Baskets are a fun and manageable project when setting up. They’re super easy to maintain over the cooler months; which, if you’re anything like me, is a welcome relief from all the watering and weeding I’ve been doing lately.

I often suggest baskets to people whose gardens have overwhelmed them, and they don’t know where to start. I tell them to adopt a simplistic outlook to the bulk of their garden (perhaps a few shrubs and perennials) and then pop in a few strategic baskets for colour hot-spots.

When it comes to planting your baskets, the key is to do them as early as possible. This gives your plants a head-start to grow now, while it’s still warm.

You can pick up hanging baskets from your local garden centre, the Warehouse or from Awapuni Nurseries online and have them delivered direct to your door. When it comes to basket size, the bigger the better I say - at least 35cm across. You’ll need a sphagnum moss liner, (you replace this each season) and a plastic saucer that sits under the soil, to retain water in the basket.

Sphagnum moss acts like a sponge and absorbs the water, providing your plants with more moisture. Give the moss a good soak in a bucket of water prior to assembling the basket. Then layer the saucer on top of the liner, top with a good quality potting mix, combined with a slow release fertiliser.

When it comes to choosing plants, I really like a full-looking basket. So I pack in my seedlings, around 10-15cm apart. Around the edge I suggest you plant cascading plants, like lobelia and alyssum. Inject colour to the middle of the basket with pansies, polyanthus and viscaria. And try to plant something taller in the middle, like dwarf antirrhinum. Remember, mixed herbs are a great way to mix up a hanging basket, and a bonus when hung close to the kitchen.

You can order all of these seedlings online from Awapuni Nurseries - we also sell a hanging basket mix, which contains a selection of plants that work well together in a basket. We ship nationwide, guarantee satisfaction and, if you’re not entirely happy with your plants, we will replace them - no questions asked Once you’ve got your basket sorted, hang and enjoy - in six to eight weeks your pops of autumn colour will start to come through. If you’d like your basket hung a little lower, extend it with some garden chain, or use some fishing nylon and double it over a few times.

Remember to keep your baskets watered, more so while it’s still warm. But come winter, every few days is fine. Just stick your finger in the soil, and if feels dry give a good watering.

Come (next) summer, when it becomes too hot to maintain your baskets, simply compost everything but the basket itself and then store for next time.

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