As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
Hanging Baskets have just arrived in our garden centre, take them home and hang in a sunny position and they will make a wonderful display all summer. Nathan James Dodd thinks they're fabulous and explains why.
As popular as ever, and ubiquitous throughout the summer months, hanging baskets exuberantly decorate our houses and public places nationwide.
Blank walls and tired buildings are transformed by these splendid concoctions. A vibrant mass of plants bursting with colour, clamouring with each other to demand attention.
Buy ready made up hanging baskets from a garden centre, you can't go wrong. Already packed with flowers selected by nurseries with years of experience creating confections of vibrant flowers.
There are a myriad of choices, although traditionally a central plant probably a geranium or begonia, is normally present, surrounded by perhaps petunias, pansies and marigolds with busy lizzies. No subtlety is required, the more colours the merrier.
Trailing plants such as lobelia, fuchsia, verbena and nasturtiums are placed around the edge or through slits around the side of the basket, so when in full bloom, nothing will be seen of the frame under a riot of colour.
If you prefer planting a basket yourself, this means collecting together quite a few elements: the basket, soil based compost, fibre lining, moisture retaining granules, multi-purpose and slow release fertilizer and of course the plants.
When all the time and expense is taken into consideration, buying a professionally produced basket might be the best option.
Whatever you decide, the basket can go outside when the risk of frost is over. Never let it dry out, water daily in the morning or evening and feed regularly with a liquid fertiliser. And don't forget to deadhead so the plants can spend their energy producing flowers rather than seed.
This guide by Andy Taylor is all about battery powered lights, a very safe way to decorate your home with festive colour. With low running costs and bright LEDs, batteries may be the smart choice this Christmas.
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In the past Christmas decorations were limited to streamers and fairy lights, but not any more as Robert Hall discovered when reviewing the huge range of novelty Christmas items that are brought to life by LEDs.
Christmas wreaths, swags and garlands might be thought a little old fashioned, but Robert Hall thinks that modern versions of these traditional decorations are a fabulous way to combine tradition with colourful contemporary themes.