Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Little Twist on a Hanging Basket

This past weekend was the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada, which is traditionally marks the start of the gardening season. While there is no guarantee there won't be another cold snap, the odds are it is safe to plant out tender annuals.

With numerous window boxes, several urns and hanging baskets to fill, I start slowly and plant them up as time and money permit.

On the front porch and in a large concrete urn at the back, I placed pansies in cool shades of blue and purple. Pansies are so cheery. I just love them!

Right beside the back door there is a little metal hook in the shape of hand with the palm turned upward. Often I hang my trowels on one of the outstretched fingers at the end of the day.

To celebrate the arrival of warmer weather I filled a little wire basket with some purple Campanula. This hanging basket is a case of short-term glory. Soon enough the flowers will fade. 

Then I'll cut the plant back hard and put the Campanula somewhere in the garden. 'Dark Get Mee Campanula' are supposedly hardy, but I haven't had much success with them. Who knows, maybe I'll be luckier this time.

For the summer, I think I'll drop in a pot of thyme. Only a couple of types of thyme seem hardy here and this isn't one of them, but I so love the look, smell and taste of this 'Golden Lemon Thyme', I splurge on a few pots each year. 

The urn in its spring glory

Tulips and Forget-Me-Nots line the path between the four raised beds

When spring pansies start to fade in summer heat, one of the pots of lemon thyme goes into the tall black urn between the four raised beds. There the thyme bakes in the sun, but it never seems to complain.

This makes me think that thyme will be the perfect choice for the little wire basket. 

Quick Wire Basket How-to: To make the basket, I bought a length of coconut liner. I rolled the liner out and with a permanent marker I traced the bottom of the basket. Then I cut out the circle and placed it at the bottom of the basket. 

Next I cut a rectangular length of coconut liner that matched the height of my wire basket. The basket is fairly small, so to make the liner more manageable I cut it into two shorter lengths. I inserted the two pieces overlapping them just a bit. 

I removed the thyme from its plastic pot and slipped it into my basket. To finish, I gave it a good drink.

For my large hanging baskets, I wanted to do something a little different this year, so I went for some edibles. I bought one basket of strawberries and plan to pot up a second with strawberry plants I already have.

Though one of the raised beds is filled with berries, I didn't get a single strawberry last year. I am not sure if the birds got them all or it was some other creature. This spring, I may see if I can get netting of some kind.

If it was birds that ate my berries, I may just have made their thievery that much easier by hanging the berries in baskets. The baskets just might have to move to the porch as the strawberries ripen.

I also bought a basket of cherry tomatoes. The red and yellow 'Tumbling Tom' tomatoes were completely potbound, so I removed them from the plastic pot and transferred them to a much larger basket with a coconut liner. 

What's your experience with coconut liners? 

I find the water drains through really, really quickly and the plant and soil don't get enough chance to absorb the moisture. To compensate for the sieve-like drainage, I place a second piece of liner at the bottom of the basket. The water seems to slow down when it has to pass through two layers of liner.

To fill out the basket I added several types of thyme.

This metal bucket was a dollar store find. A few holes for drainage was all it needed. The wicker furniture in the backyard has red seat cushions, so I thought the bucket might look nice planted with red and white petunias.

I have a number of vintage watering cans, which I use to water areas of the garden that the hose doesn't reach. I also have a few decorative ones. One such watering can has an open top making it the perfect vessel for a container planting.

This weekend I finally got around to planting it up. I punched a few holes in the bottom forever committing the watering can to a new life as a container. Then I used 'Hula Pastel Pink' Calibrachoa, white 'Techno Heat Lobelia' and purple petunias to fill it.

The metal hangers with the decorative bird are from Walmart.

One final project was a birdcage planter I made for the front porch. I have always wanted to make one of these container plantings. For instructions on how to make one of your own, click here.

Enjoy the start of your week!


  1. We don't have Victoria Day here in the states, unfortunately. It's such a pretty name to start the season. In my area, it's 'after Mother's Day', or 'when the snow's off Mica Peak', but that only works if you can see Mica Peak. We had an early spring this year, and I'm afraid we will be spoiled forever after. Your Tulips with Forget-Me-Nots are so beautiful and I LOVE the upturned hand hook.

    1. I envy your early start. We had a cold spring, and on top of that, I was away for a few weeks. Now I am scrambling to catch up...

  2. Hello Jennifer,

    thanks for the lovely and timely post about baskets. I love your ideas and will get planting soon. I don't mind using coconut liner, but I go and get moss from the forest beside us (tons of it here in Vancouver) and stuff it in between the liner and the wire basket so you can't see the liner. The moss is prettier, in my mind. I wanted to ask you what your yellow rose is in your front garden pictures - it looks lovely. Also, would you consider doing a post of your front garden layout, including your top workhorse plants? I have gone through your blog, and I just get tantalizing glimpses of your garden, but not a more comprehensive picture. Your gardening style is similar to mine and you have inspired me to plant up my driveway bed with purple phlox and yellow black-eyed Susans, just like yours. I also want to put in a Dortmund rose against the fence as a nice bright backdrop. I think the squirrels may be stealing your strawberries, as I have seen them climbing up my balcony to get at mine. Good luck in that fight!

    1. Using moss on the exterior of a coconut liner is a great idea. I think the green of the moss would be so much more attractive than the brown liner.
      The rose I think you are asking about is a David Austin rose called 'Graham Thomas'. This rose is a glorious shade of yellow.
      I had a very nice display of tulips in the front garden, but other than that you would be disappointed to see it at the moment. The front fence is down for painting and I am in the process of a major revamp.
      One bed was infested with gout weed. I striped it back to nothing to get rid of it once and for all. I plan to leave it blank all summer. That way I can spot any goutweed sneaking back. If you have ever experience the evils of goutweed, you'd understand why I am making this huge sacrifice.
      I am also revamping the rest of the front garden at the same time. In front of the picket fence, I have replaced some of the roses. The 'Fairy' roses take a beating from an over zealous sidewalk plowman each winter. I am swapping some of them out for other things.The Phlox would certainly be a key workhorse for late summer. I would also include these plants on my front garden workhorse list:
      Spring: Gasplant, False Indigo(Baptisia), Peonies, Salvia, Catmint (Nepeta), BlueStar(Amsonia)
      Summer: Roses, Daylilies, Lilies, Hosta, Astilbe, Clematis
      Late Summer: Phlox, Rudbeckia, Sedum, Hydrangea, Balloon Flower(Platycodon)
      You might be right about the squirrels getting the strawberries. We certainly have lots of squirrels. Hopefully I can figure a way to get a few this year!

    2. Thanks so much for your quick and detailed response! I feel your pain with the evil goutweed - I had violets of all things invade my lawn and I spend 30+ hours last fall trying to get rid of them, but to no avail. We finally dumped four inches of new soil and seeded on top. We are crossing our fingers that the violets won't reappear, but some things are indestructible! I heard black plastic all summer over the ground will kill weeds. Good luck!

  3. They are like those i've seen in Sweden with the hanging baskets all lining the windows and doors, so beautiful. I can visualize the tomato with the cherries all turing yellow and then red, it would be difficult to get some fruits to eat as they will diminish the charm.

    1. I hope to hang the basket of tomatoes a picking level right on the porch. So far I am finding the basket dries out rather quickly, so having it handy will make watering easier.

  4. What a wonderful selection of containers, love your upturned hand and your watering can.
    What a good idea to have fruit and veg in your hanging baskets, they will look lovely when they turn colour.

    1. I hope the fruit in the baskets works out. It seemed like such a nice experiment to attempt.

  5. We don´t know Victoria day but I love all these hanging basket pictures especially the watering can and the bird cage.

  6. Love all your ideas and especially the beer bucket! My husband would love one! I also change out my containers from spring pansies to something summery - but never thought of the thyme idea. I know what I'm going to put into a little half basket that is hung outside my back door - it just bakes in the sun and I can't seem to keep anything alive in the summer heat. I can smell the thyme from here!

    1. Thanks Heather. I have good luck with the thyme probably because, it is a Mediterranean herb. It seems to like the heat. I hope it works for you as well.

  7. You are very creative, Jennifer! All your baskets are lovely! Campanula is my favorite. That's a good idea to put a second liner - thanks!

  8. Nice to see all the different things you have planted in the various containers. I was most interested in the bird cage as I have one and didn't know what to do with it.

  9. Jennifer - how sweet! Campanula are so pretty - same problem here with the supposedly hardy ones, nope, not for me. Lemon thyme always so accommodating. My girlfriend who is on a serious budget did the huge tomato tins from Costco with red geraniums - very retro and pretty. Great to see you on Tuesday! B.

  10. I love your ideas with hanging baskets Jennifer. I do not use coconut liner for them but I use Styrofoam pieces as light drainage.
    Lovely Pansies, so sweet. I would like to plant thyme in the basket, love its scent.

  11. What super ideas these are ...
    We just need to think out of the box sometimes ... or should that be basket!

    All the best Jan

  12. Love the baskets and love the metal hand that holds them. Where did the hand come from?

    1. I came across the little hand in a local shop. Sorry, I've never seen them anywhere else.

  13. Wow, some stunning baskets here! I especially loved the hanging watering can!xxx


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