The Spanish are a wonderfully inventive when it comes to gardening. What do they do when they have no space for a garden? They take to the air! All over Spain you’ll see flowers and plants hanging from walls, hanging from balconies, hanging from trellis, in fact anywhere you can decorate a blank surface to create a living picture, a work of floral art, using different flowers and a multitude of containers from terracotta flower pots to tin cans all bursting with fantastic flowers and beautiful displays.
In the south of Spain, in towns and cities of Andalucía in Seville and Granada there are festivals where people open their private patios for judging to reveal how creative they’ve been in making the most of vertical space and taking their flowers and plants skyward. Plant hangers adorn every available space. Hanging plants is a feast of the eyes and stimulate the senses.
But there’s no reason why you can’t create the same hanging garden effect wherever you live. In northern Europe, Scandinavia and in the northern United States and Canada places that are known as ‘short season’ gardening countries, where the spring and summer are shorter than other regions, keen gardeners want to see vibrant colour as quickly as they can. While they are waiting for their borders to spring into life, and while their hanging baskets are getting going for the season, it is easy to use various flower pot hangers or pot holders to decorate a barren wall to greet the coming summer season.
If you’re new to this idea, you don’t have to be an experienced gardener. Simply take any old terracotta pot or container and put a layer of broken shards of clay to act as a drainage layer. Then mix some water storing granules with a little compost or soil and put this on top of the drainage layer to a depth of about an inch. Use normal compost without any water storing granules to complete the planting with the flower of your choice. You see, water will seep down to the bottom layer and the granules will expand. However, the granules will be kept at the bottom of the pot and not rise to the top. Plant roots will gravitate toward the bottom layer to encourage root growth and produce the most incredible blooms. Remember to leave at least an inch, twenty five centimetres, at the top of the pot for watering space. This will create a good reservoir and water will be caught and sink into the soil.
A great benefit of using containers and plants in this way is that if the weather turns nasty and frost is forecast you can always unhang the plants and bring them into the warm or the greenhouse. Hanging baskets are all very well but when the plants die at the end of the season you lose them to the weather.
So, follow the Mediterranean style and hang you plants high to create a breathtaking vertical garden. The only way is up!