Many of Embrace’s older residents find gardening a relaxing way to pass the time and seeing their seedlings and bedding plants blossom or bear fruit gives them a real sense of achievement and purpose.
With the inevitable aches and pains that come with advancing years, getting outside and managing a garden space with all that bending over is often too much, so our residents are finding great delight in using those same skills on a smaller scale. Creating an indoor garden using traditional pots and tubs and being innovative with the use of other containers, such as old Wellington boots, coffee jars and biscuit tins can be an enjoyable and gentle pastime for our senior generation.
Here’s how to create your own container garden. Have fun!
First Things First
Start by identifying where you want to position your container garden. If you have a patio or conservatory, that would be perfect, but a sunny corner of a room, a focal point such as a fireplace or even a side table or sunny window sill will do just as well.
Now gather your containers and check you have enough for the space you want to fill. It’s a good idea to use a variety of tubs but make sure they are suitable for your chosen area: if you’ve picked an outdoor space, make sure your containers are suitable for exterior use and have drainage holes in the bottom. For an indoor arrangement, you’ll need pot saucers to keep the floor dry, or containers without drainage holes. Get creative! Indoors you could use an old teapot, cleaned paint cans – virtually any vessel that will hold soil and is water-tight (or you may have something that can be used as a saucer to go underneath). Outdoors, it could be old wellies, watering cans, old washing up bowls, or buckets.
Choose your Plants
This is the fun part! Do you want a colour scheme or a random splash of colour? Think about the height and spread of the grown plants when planning your planting – but be generous with the plants; you don’t want them to be too spread out or you won’t get the immediate impact that you want. Plants can always be split or thinned out if they get too big. Rather than a single plant, consider grouping in threes for instant pleasure! If pots are going at the back of the display, you’ll want height at the back and shorter plants at the front, with some trailing ivy or lobelia cascading over the front and sides. If you’ll be able to walk around the display, the taller plants need to be in the centre with shorter ones around the edge, interspersed with trailers.
To make the most of an outdoor display, consider planting up some herbs, tomatoes and peppers. Varieties of trailing tomato plants are available in most garden centres and not only do they look fabulous, the tomatoes are sweet and delicious.
Before you plant them in your containers, give them all a good drink of water.
Time to get your hand dirty. Prepare the containers, by adding some drainage material to the bottom. This could be a few handfuls of pebbles, gravel, pieces of broken pots or crockery, or even some broken up pieces of polystyrene. This needs to be about a fifth of the height of the pot.
Then add compost. A general multi-purpose one will be fine and is available widely at many shops and supermarkets as well as garden centres. Many gardeners like to add some plant food to the soil at this stage, or you add it to the watering can when you water.
When the tub is planted, you want to have no more than a couple of centimetres from the soil to the top of the tub, but allow room for the plants, so don’t overfill as you’re planting. Gently remove the seedling or bedding plant from its container, hold it in place and add soil around it. Gently press into place, taking care not to damage the root system.
Once all your plants are in place, water again.
The Magic is in the Arrangement
All pots of flowers look beautiful, but if you arrange them properly, they will look stunning! Don’t have all the containers at the same height. If they don’t vary much in height, stand a couple on something (a couple of bricks, if they’re outside, on a couple of old paperbacks if they’re indoors).
Remember to water them regularly and feed as required. Before long they’ll flower and look amazing.
And there you have it. Beautiful flowers, all summer long.