Gardens in the air - local pub garden inspiration

May is the ideal time to plant hanging baskets and containers for summer displays but who would think the best place for inspiration may well be your local pub?

The Hinton Arms in Hinton Ampner has a really eye-catching display that helps to attract passing trade. The vibrantly coloured baskets last summer certainly caught my attention and I stopped off to find out more from the very welcoming publicans, Roger and Anne Mattia. “We work together with Gerry Crouthers from Lyewood Wholesale Nursery to have baskets made up each year. The theme is always red and yellow as I think it works very well against the pub walls, makes for very cheerful combinations and attracts the customers,” Roger explains.A subsequent chat with Gerry gave me some tips for getting the best out of hanging baskets.“Make sure you put in some long-term fertiliser and water-retaining gel at the planting stage. The really important thing is to water correctly, making sure the water goes deep into the basket rather than running off the surface or sides. One trick is to put a tube or neck of a bottle into the soil, disguised under the planting, and pour carefully into it to ensure water gets into the centre of the basket,” he suggests.“As for the best plants to use, select ones that have a long flowering time and choose ones that suit the conditions, remembering that against a house, the basket will be on one side or the other in the sun or shade at different times, so choose accordingly. Begonias take a lot of beating. Bacopa is the ‘in’ plant of the moment, white is the most fashionable but they are also available in pinks and blues. An unusual plant to try if you don’t put very much else with it as it is very vigorous, is lophospermum which flowers from August onwards. Edibles are good in home baskets as well, such as trailing strawberries, tiny tomatoes and herbs,” Gerry adds.An interest in gardening and a family background in agriculture, means the displays at the Hinton Arms are beautifully tended to by Roger. There is a watering system in place and the containers are given a weekly liquid feed to keep them at their best for as long as possible, right through from June to November. “An important thing to do is to deadhead regularly and we also grow cutting flowers in a raised bed for decorating the tables. The whole effect is a really marvellous thing to do,” says Roger.

Leigh’s top 5• As well as traditional baskets and window boxes get creative with recycled containers• Window boxes don’t have to be confined to windows – try them on fences, railings and balconies• Choose a colour scheme that works with your house and appeals to you• Plant choices include lobelia, petunia, begonia, campanula, zinnia, verbena, pelargonium, fuchsia, impatiens, tradescantia, Felicia, phormium, ivy, mimulus, sweet pea, acorus, heuchera, coleus• Add some edibles such as herbs, marigolds, strawberries, cherry tomatoes or small salad leaves

Make your own   • Mix multi-purpose compost with a handful of controlled-release fertiliser granules and water-retaining gel• Stand the basket on a pot or table to keep steady• Cover the inside of the basket with fibre liner• You may like to lie a plastic bin liner with a few cuts on top of the fibre to help retain water• Put in a thin layer of compost• Make some cuts on the sides of the basket• Select plants for the sides of the basket and carefully plant• Add more compost and another layer of plants• Add final compost and plant the top of the basket• Water daily• Deadhead spent blooms to encourage further flowering• Feed plants regularly

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