By Holly Hayes, San Jose Mercury News
I used one of Pamela Crawford's side-planted coir baskets for our hanging basket project. Crawford, a landscape architect in Georgia, devised these innovative containers after years of tinkering.
Her line of side-planted baskets, window boxes and wall planters is available online (see below). You can get a similar effect by purchasing a coir-lined hanging basket and cutting the side-planting holes yourself with a sharp utility knife.
Visit Crawford's Web site, www.sideplanting.com
I spent right around $35 on plants, but you could go cheaper if you skip the more expensive four-inch pots and use plants from six-packs. It will just take a little longer for the basket to fill out.
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO PLANTING AN INSTANT CONTAINER GARDEN:
1) Add lightweight potting mix up to the bottom of the first side-planting hole.
2) Remove plant from its nursery pot and tease apart any matted roots. Dip the root ball in a bucket of water and keep it submerged until it's saturated. Squeeze out firmly.
3) Push the root ball horizontally through the hole in the liner, from the outside in. Adjust the pre-cut flap so it fits between the roots and the foliage.
4) Add potting mix so that your centerpiece plant will be about a half-inch above the top edge of the container. Add more potting mix as needed, then add the edge plants -- submerging each root ball and squeezing before planting.
5) Look between the root balls for any empty spaces and add potting mix as needed. Pat down slightly. Attach chain hangers, attach to a sturdy hook and stand back and admire! Water well and add potting mix if the container garden settles.
The Pennsylvania-based Kinsman Co. is making and distributing Pamela Crawford's containers, columns and accessories. While they are not yet available at local nurseries, they can be ordered through the mail or online. Call (800) 733-4146 for a catalog, or visit www.kinsmangarden.com. Crawford also has written a book, ''Instant Container Gardens,'' that has a bounty of ideas for using these container gardens in the landscape (Color Gardening Publishing, 158 pp., $19.95).
Holly Hayes is the garden writer for our media partner, The San Jose Mercury News.
Email Holly Hayes: firstname.lastname@example.org