GardenMessenger

This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Daylilies, Window Boxes and Hanging Baskets

Hemerocallis ‘Anzac’

I am prompted to write a little about Daylilies again today, not just because they are great plants for almost any sunny garden, but because one of the finest and most prolific flowering cultivars that I know is called ‘Anzac’. Today, for GardenMessenger members and visitors to this blog who may be unaware, it is ANZAC Day. A public holiday in Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Niue. The most important day in the year for honouring the fallen in war, especially from the campaign in Gallipoli during the First World War.

I am not sure when or where Hemerocallis ‘Anzac’ was named, or the reasoning behind it, but it has the most beautiful velvety red blooms with a contrasting greenish-yellow throat and would grace any memorial planting. However, a general review of the lists of Daylily nurseries in both Australia and New Zealand did not yield a source. A great pity, as I am sure that several of my Australian and New Zealand friends would welcome the opportunity to grow it.

Of course, I may be barking up the wrong tree altogether over it connection with ANZAC Day, so any of you Hemerocallis specialists, especially from the GardenMessenger Daylily Group, who know anything more about the origin of this plant, and also its availability in the southern hemisphere, I would be pleased to know. I understand it was introduced in 1968 by someone called Parry. Who was Parry? There are so many questions unanswered. If someone can tell me please post a comment on the blog or send me an email.

Single plant type success

Window boxes have become very popular in recent years. Modern materials have made the production of a range of styles easy and economical. Scientifically formulated soil-less composts are light in weight and yield high quality plant displays when managed properly, so a window box provides a great opportunity to create an intensive floral picture. With modern composts and flower cultivars it is possible to create colour of a richness, diversity and intensity not possible elsewhere in the garden. Plants can be packed closely together and providing that they are watched for diseases and carefully manicured, they will prosper.

For any window box to be a success it must have a minimum depth of 15cm (6ins), preferably more so that root systems can develop properly. Drainage is vital, and must preferably be provided by holes in the base. A generous layer of gravel can also be used with reasonable success in the absence of proper drainage, but this occupies space better utilised by compost and the roots of the plants. The weight of a window box is an important consideration, especially where it is to be fastened on brackets and to a wall. Take into account not only the weight of the box, but also that of plants and compost, especially when the latter is wet.

Fortunately most spring and summer-flowering annual and bedding plants are easy-going and co-exist quite happily with one another in a window box. However, to create the best quality display a single plant type should be grown. This means that the compost can be prepared for that plant's specific requirement and the subsequent watering and maintenance regime tailored exactly to its needs. Geraniums for example enjoy full, uninterrupted sunshine in free-draining compost, which is not too rich. Thus a lean hungry compost in a hot location ensures a summer-long spectacle. Fuchsias prefer a more organic growing medium and cooler conditions, so both will only do moderately well if grown in the same window box, catered for separately they will do brilliantly

Intense long term colour

Hanging baskets are another means of creating intense long term colour, especially in confined spaces. The success of a hanging basket depends as much upon its preparation as any other factor. The compost which is used is very important, the modern soil-less mixtures being well balanced to ensure even growth, and light in weight to enable the basket to be suspended almost anywhere safely.

Although there are many different kinds of hanging pots and baskets available, the traditional wire basket with its lining of fibre or moss is still the most popular and visually appealing. It is not difficult to make up, the lining being gradually built up layer upon layer. Trailing plants are pushed through the sides of the basket, the roots making firm contact with the compost and the fibre tucked neatly around them. The building of the basket then continues upwards. When the basket is filled with compost, remove the pot from the plant that is to form the centrepiece. Place this pot in the centre of the basket and plant around. Then remove the pot and drop the pot ball of the centrepiece plant into the waiting hole. This makes filling the basket simple and ensures even plant distribution around the perimeter.

A newly planted basket must be very carefully watered. If a watering can is used the water may flow irregularly through the open-sided basket. It is always better to soak it in a deep bowl until the compost has settled, taking care to avoid damaging any trailing shoots. A watering can may be used subsequently providing that a fine rose is attached. The correct watering of hanging baskets is as important as the correct compost. It is vital that they are thoroughly soaked regularly rather than constantly sprinkled with water. If good drainage has been provided any surplus water will quickly run away.

Happy Gardening

Philip

GardenMessenger

Today’s Sponsor
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Photos:
Hemerocallis ‘Anzac’ - Springhill Nurseries
Window Box and Hanging Basket - www.freefoto.com

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