Pretty in Pink

Pretty-in-Pink

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Pretty in Pink

Make a pretty basket of pink hyacinths special by adding hoops of pussy willow twigs with the soft grey catkins just bursting out – a lovely display that should last for several weeks.

Pussy willow twigs are available in early spring, either in hedgerows or from florists. Pot-grown hyacinths can be found in garden centres from January through to May or even later.

Planting up a basket takes about an hour.

Plants required
Ten to twelve pink Dutch hyacinths just coming into flower.
Six to eight pussy willow twigs each about 45cm (18in) long.

Equipment required
Rustic-weave basket.
Hanging-basket liner (plastic, hessian, felt or moulded paper).
Bulb compost to fill.
Several handfuls of moss to tuck around the base of the hyacinths.
Trowel.

1 Place the liner you have chosen in the bottom of the basket, pricking holes through for drainage if needed. Fill the basket two-thirds full with bulb compost.

2 Carefully remove each hyacinth, one at a time, from their pots and plant in the basket, adding more compost and setting each one to the same depth as it was in its pot. Place them as close together as you can, so the heavy flowerheads will support each other, and firm in well.

3 Tuck moss loosely around the base of the hyacinths to cover the soil completely. Water lightly.

4 Wedge the bottom end of a pussy willow twig into the basket weave then bend it over to form a hoop. Tuck the tip of the twig securely into the basket, then repeat with the other twigs all round the basket, overlapping the twigs slightly as you go.

5 Position your basket in a sunny spot for best display. The furry grey catkins will eventually turn bright yellow as they open.

Tips
Take great care not to knock the pussy willow catkins off the twigs as you handle them – they are quite fragile. If the hyacinth stems start bending over, insert thin bamboo canes into the compost and tie the stems to them as discreetly as possible with soft string. Bring under shelter if heavy rain is threatened.

Note
Reuse your rustic basket for a summer display by planting with nasturtiums or begonias.

Aftercare
By its very nature this is a temporary display. When the hyacinth flowers have withered, stop watering and allow the foliage to turn brown. Then remove the bulbs from the basket, clean them carefully and store in a dry, dark place until autumn, when you can plant them out in the garden. Discard the pussy willow twigs when the catkins have flowered.

Project taken from Seasonal Garden Ideas

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