Short on space? No problem. Plant in containers, or start gardening vertically.
Don’t be hampered by the size of your yard. There are plenty of space-saving solutions. Narrow niches allow for flowers in containers, and existing walls lead you to garden upwards. Just make sure wherever you garden your flowers receive adequate light.
PETALS IN POTS
It's been said that container gardens should have a thriller (a plant that catches your attention), a spiller (one that trails over the sides) and a filler (plants that add colour and texture). Try a red-leafed heuchera and golden creeping Jenny for the wow factor.
Visit your local thrift store and purchase vintage salt cellars or other vessels that can be hung up for a pretty wall feature. These suit smaller plants like pansies and polyanthus, or try growing dainty flowers like lobelia, alyssum and creeping campanula.
If all you have is a balcony, attach specially designed planters to house smaller bedding plants. Plastic or wood planters are available to buy. Or attach old plastic gutters to either side of the railing and plant these up. Just make sure you drill drainage holes first.
To build a cost-effective vertical garden, find reusable, durable materials destined for the dump. Crates will last a couple of seasons before wood degrades; concrete blocks and plastic last forever. A plastic or steel frame (try an old book case) can house plastic boxes for planting up. A modular system that can easily be taken apart is ideal for swapping out seasonal plants, or be prepared to replant your wall as the seasons change.
SHIPPING PALLET CRAFT
Shipping pallets, often free for the taking, make excellent temporary vertical gardens. Turn them on their sides and fix a length of timber to the bottom of each horizontal board to create a container. Line with plastic, poke holes in the plastic for drainage, then plant up. Remember that timber, even when treated, will rot under wet soil. Make sure the pallet is firmly anchored in place – the soil makes it heavier than you might think!
The sun should drench your wall if you want to raise flowers. If all you have is shade, plant ferns.
SAVING AND STORING SEED
Saving seed makes economic sense as you can cut down your gardening costs considerably. After flowers fade, a seedhead or individual pods will develop. When these are nearly dry (if they dry completely the seeds may disperse before you have a chance to collect them) and the seeds inside ripen to a brown colour, remove and bring them indoors. Lay individual pods, like those of the sweet pea or wild blue indigo ( Baptisia australis), on newspaper to dry completely and place whole seedheads into paper bags with the stem sticking out. When dry, shell the pods and store seed in paper envelopes in a cool, dry place. The seed from the seedheads will fall into the paper bag, or just shake them out after a week or two, and then store them when you're certain they are completely dry. Do not store in plastic, as seeds will rot if there's any residual moisture.
When collecting seeds, choose plants that are vigorous and free from disease. Start with annuals and biennials; it is quicker to divide or take cuttings from perennials.
However, some perennials, such as chic winter-flowering hellebores, are fabulous seed producers too. When the pods turn black in late spring, collect and dry. They need a cold winter to germinate so must be resown within a few months.
Easy annuals to save include love-in-a-mist, honesty and poppies. As a bonus, once you‘ve shaken out the ripe seed, their seed pods are great in dried flower arrangements.
To save sunflower seed, tie a sack or pillowcase over the flower as soon as the petals fade and the head starts to droop. Hungry birds will almost certainly filch all the seeds otherwise.
Marigolds and zinnias are prolific seeders and easy to harvest. Pick the flowerheads when they have faded, then dry whole. Split open the head and remove the seeds.