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Help with planting containers


By Andrea

Yorkshire, United Kingdom Gb

Hi I help out with my local "In Bloom" group and we have the task of planting up a number of troughs which are attached the railings in the town centre. I have attached a photo for you to see. The problem is that each year we are faced with a huge bill from the council for watering, we have tried asking local people to help out with this but have not been too successful yet! We would like to plant them up for summer and use a mixture of plants as well as the traditional bedding, something that is not as high maintenance when it comes to watering and I wondered if anyone had any ideas on plants to try?




The challenge of finding plants with low water requirements is a specialty among some US gardeners. Here it is called Xeriscaping. You might research that topic specific to your area in the UK. In general, you look for plants which would grow wild in your area - because they would therefore thrive with just normal rainfall. Local nurseries generally have what you need - it is a matter of selection. This could be a public education opportunity for your group. Good luck!

14 May, 2008


In Richmond town centre I see troughs like this fastened to railings opposite the station. They have little Aucuba shrubs and/or dwarf evergreens spaced in them, plus bulbs and winter pansies at the moment then they change to tough annual bedding for the summer, leaving the shrubs of course. I suspect they change the shrubs when they outgrow their spaces. Is that an idea that appeals? Maybe you could also add that water-retaining gel to the compost to help a bit?

14 May, 2008


If you won In Bloom comp sure the council dignitaries would make an appearance.Arent you doing this to enhance the enviroment the council covers? Disgraceful that you being penalised for giving your time.Could use empty plastic bottles filled with water and inverted into soil to slow release moisture.

14 May, 2008


Thanks for all your comments, some good suggestions. I had thought about the water crystals, but have been told that if you allow the soil to dry out with them in then it takes ages to rewet the soil again! - Never knew that.

Point taken Bonkersbon, unfortunately we live in a political world, the council do support us well and give us plenty of funding,mad I know, as we are just ploughing the money back to them in the way of watering! But if we can find ways to avoid this then there will be more money to use on other projects, and thanks, your tip about the plastic bottles will be useful!

15 May, 2008


I can only think of geraniums as being drought resistant. The trailing ones especially make a lovely show even if it is just the one species in the trough. I think you have begonias and lobelia in the one pictured - both these don't like to dry out.

Maybe you could reduce the drainage capacity of the troughs - I mean like lining them with plastic with just a few tiny holes to let out excess - might keep them moist for longer? I do this with my hanging baskets.

15 May, 2008


Britain in bloom is about total community involvement, civic pride and the intergration of all facets of dare I say 'town Life'. The lead should come from the local council not just to provide funding but also to facilitate local groups and individuals to bring about the floristic delights. Having entered my authority in the past in Anglia in bloom (Regional Britain in Bloom) the local Council was very much the facilitator to assist voluntary groups accessing sponsorship or practical support from the commercial and business community which all gain indirectly from having a floristic environment. The success of managing and maintaining really floristic planters and hanging baskets is dependent on a robust watering regime. Yes composts can be enhanced with water retaining gels, troughs can be provided with reservoirs with wicks linked to the water source - but they still need the water to be put there. The issue is complex but accessing volunteer inputs (with all the inherent health and safety issues) is the key. Siting of hanging baskets, troughs or planters should be best associated with where people work - shop fronts, offices, industrial sites - where 'employees' with a similar mind set can be encouraged to become engaged with the low key maintenance of these 'containers'. Chances are they will get support from their empoyers - contact the local Chamber of Trade for help. Have you spoken with the regional B in B representatives? They can often help point you in the right direction for accessing volunteering inputs. You will also have a great head start at the judging stage if you can show that there has really been physical community participation - not just the local council providing money which in turn goes back to them to pay the maintenance contractors. Best of luck I can assure you there is a tremendous kick in seeing really good displays maintained by the real 'local community'.

16 May, 2008

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