It’s great to meet so many of you at talks I do, but one lady I met reminded me that not everyone has a large garden and asked if I would write something ‘inspirational’ for those with small gardens.
Well, here goes! A pole of flowers is brilliant for a forecourt where a tall wall prevents passers-by from enjoying your front garden. In addition to this, you’ll be able to see your home all down the road and it will probably be the best display around.
It looks terrific on a patio too and can give your garden a focal point, particularly if you enjoy looking at the garden from the back of the house.
So how do you make a pole of flowers? Well, start with a four-inch soft wood fence post treated with Bio Woody to preserve the timber. This is placed into a Metpost holder, to ensure it won’t fall over in the wind. Plus, it saves digging a great hole!
Fix a 16-inch hanging basket to the top, best achieved by cutting a 16-inch diameter bicycle wheel in half because the spoke holes enable you to screw it into the top of the post. As a result you can imagine a great ball of flowers.
Two brackets strong enough to take the weight of a hanging basket are then screwed in at the top of the pole on opposite sides. About six inches below the first pair of brackets, fix another two brackets opposite each other. The idea is to hang a 16-inch diamter hanging basket on each bracket. I suggest using a soft wood post because it’s far easier to put screws into soft wood.
You are now ready for the planting. First, line the baskets with moss or a coconut fibre liner. Plastic is useless unless you are prepared to make slits for insertion of the plants.
Place some lobelia into the basket and then pull the foliage through the mesh. Never try to put roots through the mesh. You’ve paid a lot for the plants, so why rip off all the roots?
Ordinary lobelia will soon cover the sides of the basket and all you require is eight plants for the sides of each of the baskets. Fill the top with five petunias if it’s going in a sunny spot. Or if it’s in shade for most of the day, then five busy Lizzies are wonderful.
Add one or two ivy-leafed pelargoniums (geraniums) - the variety Eastbourne Pink is gorgeous, as is Galillee. They are both pink. Or go for a brilliant red one called Yale. La France is a pinky mauve and looks really nice with a combination of pink petunias and light blue lobelia called Cambridge Blue.
If you want to give the whole effect a bit of a boost, then a single plant of Scaevola looks bold. It’s blue and looks very much like a giant lobelia. If it’s windy, then add a couple of Helichrysum or Cineraria Silver Feather plants, or indeed anything with a silver or grey foliage. It always looks good and protects the flowers from the wind.