It's time to grow up -- literally. Vertical gardening is not limited to growing climbing plants on walls and trellises anymore. You'll find great ideas for vertical garden compositions in Noemie Vialard's book Gardening Vertically: 24 Ideas for Creating Your Own Green Walls (W.W. Norton, 2012). Each project is beautifully illustrated, and the detailed instructions will help you create and maintain the wall of your choice. Among my favorite themes: wall of vegetables; foliage wall; mosquito repellent wall; aromatic herb wall; wall of mosses; wall of ferns; perfumed wall; black and white checkerboard wall; patchwork of succulents; and circle of thyme. You'll find inspiration galore in this book!
Clever Gardening Technique
Make a Moss Basket
Moss baskets are always beautiful, but one you've made yourself is even better. Here's how:
Choose a wire basket frame. These are available in sizes from 8 inches to 14 inches across, as well as half baskets for hanging against walls. The larger the basket, the less quickly it will dry out.
Spread moss on the bottom of the basket frame, extending up about three-quarters of the height of the basket. You can then cut a circle of plastic to lay over the moss in the bottom of the basket to act as a water reservoir, or you can attach a plastic tray to the outside bottom of the wire basket after you've finished planting and before you hang or mount your basket.
Use moistened potting soil to fill the basket. I use Sunshine Hanging Basket Mix because it contains water retaining polymers that swell up with water to help hold moisture in the basket for longer periods of time. This means I don't have to water quite as frequently during the summer months.
Add a handful of slow release fertilizer, such as a granular 14-14-14, to your potting soil before placing the potting soil in the basket. I place about 4 inches of soil in the bottom of the basket and add additional soil as I add plants. This way I can firm the soil around each of the rootballs as I plant at varying depths through the outside wires.
Prepare your plants before transplanting by watering them thoroughly. If their root systems are moist, the soil will cling and will ensure the root systems remain hydrated during the planting process.
To plant, gently pull the wires apart, push back the moss with your fingers and poke the roots of the plant through the hole. Firm potting soil around the roots, then place the moss back and bend the wires back into place.
As you work your way up the basket, add more moss lining and soil, as needed. When you get to within 4-5 inches of the top, you can stop planting the sides and finish up your basket by planting a couple of cascading or vining plants directly in the top of the basket.
When you've finished planting, water the basket well and set it in a protected location for a few days to allow the plants to establish themselves.
The key to success with any hanging basket is daily attention. Don't allow your container to dry out. It may be necessary to water in the morning and in the evening during the hottest months of the year. Because of this frequent watering, nutrients will be quickly leached away. I compensate for this by feeding with a half-strength dilution of Miracle-Gro or Peter's water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks.
If you need some ideas for plants to include in your hanging baskets, try a few of these:
Asparagus Fern (Asparagus sprengeri)
Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata)
Pocketbook Plant (Calceolaria)
Italian Bellflower (Campanula isophylla
Cigar plant (Cuphea)
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia)
Dahlberg daisy (Thymophylla tenuiloba)
Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)
Kenilworth Ivy (Cymbalaria muralis)
Lotus vine (Lotus berthelotii)
Monkey Flower (Mimulus)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes),
Poor Man's Orchid (Schizanthus)
Silver Nettle Vine (Lamiastrum galeobdolon)
Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus)
Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas)
Ivy Geranium (Pelargonium peltatum),
Fibrous begonia (Begonia semperflorens)