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If this is your first newsletter, welcome, we are so glad to have you here. This week we are sharing our tips on creating a eco-friendly hanging basket, which will not only look and smell beautiful, but be a haven for pollinators too.

You can find links to catch up on our previous newsletters and get in touch at the end of the article.

Wishing you all a bright week,

The Treehouse Gang

#005 - Eco Hanging Basket

Earlier this year I was musing on how to add some colour to our bit of Bollington, where Henshall Road meets Grimshaw Lane. With new shops opening, I hit on the potentially challenging concept of creating eco-friendly hanging baskets. Challenging, because when I set to thinking, a hanging basket is, by design, a pretty un-green concept.

Greener gardening (and living?!) is all about trying to reduce inputs. Stuffing a load of plants in a small container and hanging it up to dry means lots of water, food and attention to keep it looking good. Furthermore, most of the plants we associate with hanging baskets are grown in Dutch greenhouses, shipped across the channel in plastic pots and consigned to the compost bin come autumn. 

 The idea was all but abandoned, but before entirely giving up before I’d started,  happened to mention the ‘eco-hanging basket’ to Mark and Dagmara of Knowles Green who instantly commissioned one! After much hang-wringing on my part, a lovely hanging basket does now swing outside their shop. This Treehouse article explains how it was made, and how you can make one too.

Plants

My thanks go to Prestbury Nursery who lit on the inspired idea of using herbs for the basket. Herbs won’t rival petunias for flower-power, but their green credentials are superb. They are perennial, meaning you can use them in your baskets for years; bees love them, and they are resilient – mostly hailing from hot, dry climates.

There are hundreds of interesting varieties. Theme your basket around salad herbs, or cooking herbs, or medicinal herbs. The example photographed here used herbs for aromatherapy, fitting because it’s destined to hang outside Mother Nature’s Sanctuary.

If you want flowers; campanulas, dianthus, erigerion (fleabane) and small geraniums (such as geranium cinerea) are all tough and perennial.

Basket

You can use anything for a basket. It just needs to have enough holes to drain. A traditional basket needs some sort of liner to hold everything in – chose a biodegradable one, which will look nicer too.

A good way to calculate plant numbers is to choose 1.5 plants per inch of diameter. This is a 8 inch basket; so we’ve got 12 plants.

Compost
There is such thing as hanging basket compost  It’s full of feed and holds water well but it’s mostly peat based, and it’s rarely organic. The plants we’re using don’t need much special care, so I’d suggest a standard peat-free compost. Mix in some water gel crystals if you’re really concerned about it drying out.

What will you get?

Increase the plant-able space of your basket by sticking a few trailing plants out of the bottom. Candidates: thyme, alpine strawberries, cat-mint, campanulas.  Make a small hole in the liner and gently guide the plants through from the inside. 

Now fill your basket about half full with compost. A slightly larger plant like lavender, rosemary or a small grass like Stipa tenuissima in the centre of your basket can add some structure. Next add your remaining plants, nestling them into the compost. Once they’re positioned, add more compost, squeezing in as much as possible. 

Give the basket a really good drink to let it settle and add compost if needed.

Care

During dry periods keep the compost moist by giving the basket a good dose of water in the evening. Mid-summer you could apply a feed made from seaweed or nettles to add some nutrients.

In the autumn, deconstruct your basket. Stick all the plants in a big pot somewhere sheltered. Use a gravely compost mix so they don’t sit in water all winter, and they’ll be ready for action next year: you could even split any whoppers and trade them on the Bollington plant exchange!

Further Links:

Who:
Prestbury Garden Centre (for your plants, compost and biodegradable liners)
 

News

Volunteer
Terracycle Kate is has the next dates for sorting Teracycle items:
Monday 14 June, 10am -12 noon and Sunday 20 June, 10am -12 noon
Any help appreciated, refreshments provided.
Activity
Bollington Great British Spring Clean - Sunday 13 June, 10am -12 noon, Bollington Town Hall
Dates

16 June 2021 World Refill Day
Please share this newsletter with family and friends. If you not already subscribed, click here and you can also view past issues of the newsletter here. If you'd like to help bring The Treehouse to life please get in touch. We are looking for people who'd either like to pitch in with the development of our plan and strategy, or to help organise actions and events to build momentum in the area.
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Treehouse Ecohub · 20 Hurst Lane · Bollington · Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 5LP · United Kingdom

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