If you do not want to have an in-ground flower bed or you do not have a suitable place in your yard to put one, you might adopt an idea that I have seen several times in yards and public places in the past few years. For lack of a better name, I call the idea a petunia tree. It is a simple, yet ingenious way to display a collection of hanging baskets – in all cases that I have seen they are planted with petunias – which makes a dramatic focal point wherever it is placed.
Although I suspect getting the metal framework built is not inexpensive, there are probably many farmers with welding and other metalwork equipment throughout the region, so the frame could be homemade. Basically, the framework consists of a strong central metal pole securely fastened into the ground, probably with cement, to which several lateral branches are welded. The branches are longer at the bottom and become progressively shorter as they approach the top of the pole. On the end of each branch and at the top of the pole is a metal ring, just the right size so that a hanging basket can be slipped into it so the ring ends up being just under the collar of the basket, supporting it and keeping it securely in place. Of course, the hooked basket handles are not needed and are removed.
The pots are close enough together so that when the plants have developed to their full size, a solid “tree” of dramatic colour is created. The ones that I have seen contained wave petunias, so each basket was completely covered as the plants developed into cascading colour. Other plants might work, but trailing ones would be best and I doubt that any more impact could be achieved than is accomplished using petunias.
I have seen these petunia trees displayed in the middle of lawns, in public areas landscaped with crushed rock and even in the back of a flower border. The size of the tree could vary but there must be the ability to water the pots with ease. They would have to be watered and fertilized regularly – at least once a day in very hot weather, so this is not a venture for someone who is away for days at a time. I suppose the shape of the framework does not have to be tree shaped, although the advantage of this is the baskets do not shade each other because they are not directly above one another due to the graduated length of the tree branches. Like everything else about gardening, however, I’m sure innovative gardeners will modify this idea to their own liking to produce a colourful display.
– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba
Thesizeofthe treecouldvarybut theremustbethe abilitytowaterthe potswithease.