I've touched before on our lack of gardening budget this summer, after my husband was out of work for a little while this spring. Consequently, I had to make what we had go a little further.
But it's actually been an interesting exercise. I spent a very modest amount on annual 'bedding' plants for pots and baskets and spread it all rather thinly. But I think there has been real value in doing so. In the past, I've crammed pots with a selection of plants and by this time of year, despite feeding and TLC, they've been starting to look weary. I think I have simply over-planted in the past. We've also gained some advantage this year by not taking a summer holiday, just as the garden was looking its most fabulous.
Despite the very modest outlay on annuals, we have a great showing of colour and the garden is as nice as it has ever been. I kept it very simple - I planted several medium sized terracotta pots I already had with single plants or a cluster of assorted Lobelia plugs. They all look fabulous now - each one is a dome of colour, especially the Lobelia pots. This is very certainly a practice I'll continue in future years, I really like the effect.
I had some successes and some failures. The greatest successes happened to be the minimal spend items and the total failures were unfortunately the most expensive. Another lesson learned. I bought some gorgeous deep red chrysanthemums - they were fabulous specimens and I was full of hope. They were the single most expensive plants I bought. They turned out to be nothing more than expensive snail fodder, as blogged previously. They were totally laid to waste within 48 hours. I also bought some yellow and orange tagetes, as these have given a good showing in previous years. They went the way of the chrysanthemums - but did manage to at least hold out for 72 hours.
But one of my greatest joys has been two trays of tiny little fuchsias I bought - they were in a local DIY store on a BOGOF offer when we went to get some plumbing supplies to repair an emergency leak - so I wasn't even looking for plants. I paid £3.99 for a tray of 10 small plants, with another the same free. Some of the plants were a little weary, so I rummaged through the stacks of trays to find the healthiest looking specimens - so 20 fuchsia plants at 20p each! All 20 plants have positively thrived and have just started to burst into flower this week. They're all supposed to be the same plants, but there is clearly more than one variety in there. I have five additional pots featuring them too.
They looked so tiny that I planted 5 of them in the hanging pot I had retained from last year - it looked somewhat pathetic for a while. But the flowers have burst open this week, with masses of buds now showing.
So the hanging basket by my back door cost me £1 this year - this must be worth a pound of anyone's money!