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Night-scented stock

Night-scented stock

A few weeks ago I was asked to come up with a design for a hanging basket for the online plant nursery Plant Me Now. The design had to include a selection of plants which would fit a 30cm rattan basket, there would be no side holes for planting, there should be no more than 7 plants and they had to come from the Plant Me Now bedding plants range or were plants which could be easily sourced.

Oddly, I’ve never made a hanging basket before. I’m not sure why. My neighbour had a beautiful one by her front door this summer and they are an integral part of my village’s Britain in Bloom entry, with shops and pubs producing a spectacular show every year. Because my focus for the last couple of years has been the allotment and the cut flower patch I haven’t even planted containers to have by the front door or on the patio, but this year I did do a few decorative pots for the back garden. The simplest, and what turned out to be the most effective, was a zinc container filled full of night-scented stock. It was one of the first plants I remember growing from seed when I was about seven but for some reason I hadn’t grown them in years. The scent was so fabulous; one pot filled the garden with scent throughout the summer. The fragrance drifted into the house on those warm summer evenings that seem such a distant memory now. It was also so easy to grow from seed and just kept on flowering. I love the element of scent in a garden, something that makes you linger and stops you in your tracks, and that’s where the idea for my summer evening fragrant hanging basket started to form.

I had a quick look around the Plant Me Now website and a few old Gardens Illustrated and Gardeners’ World magazines for inspiration and then set about deciding on the planting criteria for my basket. There would have to be scent obviously, the plants should flower over a long period, they should be compact and there would need to be an element of trailing and tumbling plants to dangle down the sides of the basket.

dianthus-sweet-black-cherry

Dianthus ‘Sweet Black Cherry’

Buying a bunch of sweet Williams from a local cut flower grower at a farmers’ market was one of the reasons why I started growing my own cut flowers. They have an old-fashioned charm, the sort of flowers you remember being given by your granddad when you were a child. Most sweet Williams are biennials so they are often forgotten about, and when you do come to think about adding them to your planting plans you realise it’s too late. That’s why I was so pleased to discover a range of annual sweet Williams. The subtle clove-like fragrance and compact upright habit makes them perfect for planting in the centre of my hanging basket. I chose the gorgeous claret coloured ‘Sweet Black Cherry’.

Nemesia 'Lady Scented'

Nemesia ‘Lady Scented’

Around this central planting I plumped for Nemesia ‘Lady Scented’ with its pretty lilac/pink flowers and its strong fragrance. It forms neat mounds and is very free-flowering.

petunia-tumbelina-melissa

Petunia tumbelina ‘Melissa’

As this hanging basket has no space for side planting I wanted to include a selection of trailing plants which would tumble out of the top and spill over the sides softening the edges of the basket. Petunia ‘Tumbelina Melissa’ with its frilly, double ivory-coloured flowers fitted this role with the added bonus of scented blooms.

Planted amongst the petunias would be night-scented stock. They have a naturally leggy, sprawling habit perfect for cascading out of a hanging basket. The flowers of night-scented stock open in the evening to release their perfume providing a source of nectar for moths. The flowers aren’t especially showy but I love the pale lilac, pink and white four-petalled blooms for their daintiness. If you would prefer a flower that opens during the day you could grow Virginian stock instead which is scented too.

Verbena 'Aztec White Magic'

Verbena ‘Aztec White Magic’

Finally, to add some extra flowery oomph, I plumped for Verbena ‘Aztec White Magic’ as the last addition to the planting. Although not scented it makes up for this with its long season of flower production and it will tumble and trail out of the basket too. Verbenas come in a range of colours but I chose white because I love how white flowers almost ‘glow’ as light fades in the evening.

So that’s my summer evening scented hanging basket. Perfect for hanging by French doors where the scent will waft into the house and linger in the air around an outdoor seating area.

*I received a fee from Plant Me Now for working on this project and I will be donating a proportion of this to the Crisis at Christmas Appeal.

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