So, I thought this afternoon I'd post something a little different to the usual fashion DIY's floating around the blogasphere. I remember when I was really little after school every Spring I used to join my Mummy in the greenhouse to plant up flower pots and hanging baskets, as well as some basic vegetables. Want to know how to grow your own peas in a drainpipe? I'm your girl!
While there will always be a special place in my heart for hanging baskets (I adore long streams of trailing flowers), what I love about planting big pairs of flower pots with brightly coloured themed arrangements you can put them either side of your door, or on your patio to enjoy, regardless if you live in the town, city or in the countryside like I do at the moment (these two particular pots are to go either side of the back door at my parents house). What I love even more about them, they are stupidly easy to put together and look amazing!
First you'll need to prepare your pots. The ones I was using were prepared ready when the plants were taken out last year, but they are pretty simple to do. You can use any type of pot, as long as there is a hole in the bottom for water to drain through. To stop too much water coming out the pot however, and to stop all the compost washing out all the hole, it is a good idea to put a few oddly shaped stones or broken pieces of pot over the hole, so water can still come out, but not flood out. Next, fill the pot with about 2 inches left till the brim with good quality potting compost which you can buy from places like the garden section of B&Q, Homebase and I think they even have it in Tescos at the moment.
Next, the most important thing is choosing your plants. I drove out to my local garden center (which I blogger some photos from last year) for mine, but again you can pick them up in B&Q, Homebase or Tescos to name a few places. How many you'll need depends on the size of your pot, but I would say you should be able to plant them as is with a few inches in the pot around each plant to allow them to grow.
Two things are important when you are choosing your plants, colour and balance. Colour wise, this year I think it would be create to go for all whites, blues and reds, because they not only look striking together, but if you plant them this weekend they'll be blooming red, white and blue in time for the Queen's Golden Jubilee weekend! I was tempted to go for red, white and blue myself for this very reason, but I did that last year to celebrate the Royal Wedding, so instead I've decided to go for a pink, blue, white and purple pastel theme in keeping with this Spring seasons wardrobe, and inspired by these beautiful Geraniums that were already flowering when I bought them. They key is you want colours that go well together, and some variety so you don't have an overload of the same colour and shade. I also like to mix in a few plants with nice coloured leaves that don't flower for a bit of variety so it is not a total floral overload, too!
As far as balance goes, I try to buy an equal amount of plants that say upright on the label, which means they will grow upright and like a bush, and training, which will grow downwards and trail flowers over the edge of the pot.
Actually planting the plants is pretty simple. All you have to do is dig a hole, remove the plant from its pot, stick it in, fill around the edges of the hole with compost and press it down gently around the base of the plant gently with your fingers, repeating the process until you have used up all of your plants.
The only bit that might be a little tricky if you've never potted plants before is removing them from the pots. Depending how long they have been in the pot and how developed the roots are, will depend on how easy they are to free from their pots. The trick is to gently squeeze around the plastic pot to free the soil and the roots from the sides of the pot, then hold onto the plant with one hand and gently pull the plastic pot off the bottom, maybe squeezing it a little more as you pull. Unless you are very, very unlucky and the plants are very, very young which they should not be, the plants roots will keep the pot shape with the compost for you to just stick straight into the hole you have just dug.
When I am planting I try to keep the two pots like a mirror image of each other, either side of the door. I try to plant the plants that grow upwards towards the back and middle for height, and the larger training ones at the front. I like to fill in the gaps and the sides with a smaller training flower. I love a wonderful flower called Lobelia for this which spreads and grows like anything, and you can get in light and dark shades of pink, purple and blue, and in white too. I try to plant the brightest flower on the inside edge of the pot that will be nearest the door, and a trailing plant that has no flowers on the outside edge. This is personally how I like to do it, but you can mix it up and play around with your own arrangements and designs depending on which plants you pick out.
It does not matter if you have got a bit messy with the plants and the soil, as afterwards once you have put your pots in place you need to water the plants in, giving them a nice drink to settle them into their new homes. Usually in the English weather, the rain will look after these, but if not make sure you keep them well watered, and they should bloom rather quickly!
If you try this out on any scale, I'd love to hear how you get on, and hopefully see some photos! You can plant these any time over the next month to enjoy during the Summer, and I'll be sure to post some photos soon of my pots when they are in full bloom!