With flowers chosen to suit the season a hanging basket or window box can add a wonderful splash of colour to an outside wall, patio or balcony area. Although most baskets or boxes are planted in early spring and positioned outdoors after the risk of frost has passed (usually mid-May around Newbridge), remember baskets and window boxes can also be filled with frost hardy flowers and tough evergreens for winter colour.
Your flower baskets will need watering from time to time – conserve water, and collect rainwater in a water butt connected to your gutter downpipe to use for watering your baskets, garden or flower planters.
Flower Bed / Shrubbery Options
Flowerbeds and Shrubberies are another option, and can be planted up for year-round colour depending on the plants selected, and will generally provide a better opportunity to include shrubs which can provide a permanent (rather than seasonal) range of colours.
Where the bed is being positioned in front of a wall or hard landscaping feature, it may be best to take the opportunity to layer the bed by planting taller plants at the back of the bed, and reducing the height of the plants selected as you plant out to the front of the bed, where bedding plants could be used.
Where the bed is a stand-alone bed, surrounded by grass or hard landscaping (paving or similar) plant taller plants in the centre reducing the height as you approach the hard landscaping.
Whatever you decide remember that good flower bed design aims to use space well, and the most successful design is one that is pleasing to the eye, and appeals to a wide range of people. There is however an opportunity to cater for every taste, there is no and no such thing as the ‘right’ way to lay-out a flower bed.
The advantage of a flower bed is that it should require less watering – rainwater should suffice, it can be planted with perennial plants, annuals or a mix of both. By spreading a mulch from your compost bin or chipped bark you will retain more moisture in the soil, and suppress weeds.
Check out our page Newbridge in Bloom for information on Perennial planting
When planting it is also suggested that you select flowers which are natural to Ireland, could you have an area for wildflowers? When you plant native Irish species they will flower at the same time as the native wildlife that visits the plants, native flowers will survive better and longer as they suit our climatic conditions, and are suitable for nature conservation. Please do not remove wildflowers from their natural location – best practice is to purchase Native Irish wildflower seeds and bulbs from a reputable supplier.
Some of the plants we seldom see in the wild anymore:
- Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus);
- Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus bolbosus);
- Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus);
- Cowslip (Primula veris);
Check out our page Wildlife Area in your Garden or Residential Area
You can purchase Native Flowers from Design by Nature Website who grow native wildflowers from locally sourced native seed and will supply seeds of bulbs in small or large quantities.
Hanging Baskets / Window Boxes
- Baskets and Window Boxes come in various sizes, choose a size which suits your location;
- Brackets also come in various sizes, choose brackets which will support the weight of the Basket / Box you have chosen – remember when filled with soil, flowers and water the Basket / Box can be quite heavy;
- Liners for Baskets can be purchased locally or use a natural liner e.g., moss, coconut fibre etc.;
- Compost is probably the most important component, and fresh compost / potting compost, with if one chooses natural manure (now available in bags from your garden centre);
- And finally the most important material The Flowers, if you purchase poor quality flowers, or unsuitable flowers the Basket will not thrive.
Once you have chosen the location for your baskets or boxes, ensure that your brackets are securely attached to the wall or railing, particularly if they are being positioned at a height or on a second story location, if the basket / window box falls it could injure a person below.
Choose the plants carefully, and choose plants to a definite colour scheme, there are lots of plants which can be grown in baskets and window boxes, and when complimented by some trailing evergreens can look wonderful – examples below:
- Lobelia (Trailing) or (Ball effect / bushy);
- Geraniums (Trailing);
- Fuchsia (Trailing);
- Campanula (Trailing);
- Impatiens / Busy Lizzies (Ball effect / bushy);
Unless you take care of your baskets or window boxes, they will not last very long, here are some tips on maintaining your baskets and window boxes:
- Baskets will require watering, especially during warm weather;
- Dead-head / remove spent blooms plants each week, as this will encourage plants to produce a succession of flowers;
- Periodic feeding with an (organic) liquid feed will help the flowers;
- If going on holiday – enlist the help of a neighbour or family member.