I am so not into pink.
Or, for that matter, hanging baskets.
And yet, here I am, assembling five hanging baskets to adorn our downtown. That's what owning a business will do to you.
This is just a pilot project–an effort by a few community groups and business owners to experiment with hanging baskets in the hopes of pulling off a full-fledged hanging basket program next year.This is not the year for cutting-edge design or experimental techniques. This is the year for big, pretty, pink globes using plants that are so well-tested that they are a cliche.
So we've got your Wave petunias, your PW Supertunias, your PW Superbells, and some pink lobelia. The containers come from a company called BloomMaster that does nothing but municipal hanging baskets. Here's what the basket looks like:
There are 30 holes in this 14-inch basket, and of course you need some plants for the top, which means that I walked out of the garden center with more plants than I ever have before in one single trip. Which is exciting, even when they are pink petunias and superbells and lobelia.
These baskets have been designed in such a way that there should be minimal leakage and no need for a liner. We'll see how that goes–this is only a test–but you can see from the way the holes are cut from the inside that they have put some thought into the whole thing:
It was actually very pleasant, spending the afternoon stuffing petunias into pots. It's kind of like making a casserole–a layer of plants, a layer of perlite, a layer of this special hanging basket potting mix, a sprinkle of (god help me) synthetic time-release fertilizer (I told you we're taking the low-risk, bomb-proof approach our first time out), and another layer of plants. I have enjoyed figuring out the science behind this stuff–there's something technical to know about every step of the process, from what plants to choose, to the soil mix, to the feeding schedule. I find it very reassuring to know that there is a right way to do this municipal hanging basket thing. I'm following recipes and everything. As I said, it's all so very unlike me.
The pots are headed to a greenhouse where they will be coddled along until early June, at which point we hope the fierce wind off the Pacific will have died down enough to let us hang these up.
And by the way, this is not just about beautification. Studies show that good landscaping in a retail district can increase sales, increase shoppers' perception of the value of the merchandise, decrease crime and shoppers' perception of crime, and encourage shoppers to stay longer. In this economy, we can use all the help we can get. So go, pink petunias!
I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, if anybody has any downtown hanging basket experience to share, let's hear it!