On a bright and summery evening in June, members of Puckeridge WI met for a session on Container Gardening led by Steve Isley from Royston Garden Centre. The evening started a little late but was worth the wait as Steve introduced us to some of the bedding plants that you might see in the summer. He showed us beautiful examples of fuchsias, petunias and geraniums that were all available to buy later in the evening. He also introduced other plants such as lobelia that are particularly useful when creating hanging baskets and troughs. He emphasised that for containers to do well across the season, you need to water, feed and deadhead. He showed us a useful product (like a small pair of scissors) that was designed to deadhead flowers quickly and easily without damaging the rest of the plant.
Steve then demonstrated how to create a hanging basket, firstly starting with the compost. He recommended using a specific compost for containers which tends to retain water better than multi-purpose and the group agreed that multi-purpose compost has a tendency to dry out. He then chooses his plants considering colour and height. For his first basket, he chose a red geranium surrounded by blue lobelia. It was a simple combination but looked very effective. He then planted up a trough/windowbox which had cooler, citrus colours, which again looked really effective with its limited colour scheme. In this one he included snap dragons or what he called bunny rabbits.
It was obvious that Steve was passionate about his job and this came across particularly when he talked about the importance of talking to plants. He also discussed his preference for using organic feed as studies have proven that plants thrive when fed with organic matter. He advised that we look out for plant food that contains seaweed, as this is highly beneficial to the plants. During this time Hannah, who had come to her first meeting, was invited to have a go at creating her own window box. Using Steve’s tips from earlier, Hannah created a vibrant display of colour and shape.
Thank you to Steve for bringing along such a range of plants and for inspiring us to get gardening this weekend – we shall certainly be visiting his garden centre!
After a break for tea and cake, the meeting continued with a preview of the next meeting where we will be involved with the “Dress a Girl Around the World” project which provides little girls around the globe with a handmade dress. Members were encouraged to make their own pillowcase dress before the next meeting, so that it can be embellished or finished off during the meeting time. Patterns are to be e mailed to members or you can visit www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com