Wednesday, 14 November 2012

An edible hanging basket for the winter

I enjoy experimenting with growing edible plants in different situations, and the hanging baskets which held my tumbling tomato plants this summer were more than ready for refreshing(!), so I decided to plant up a hanging basket using some edible (or otherwise useful) plants for the winter. Hopefully it will look good throughout the winter, and especially at Christmas hung in front of the house. With Christmas in mind I kept to red, white and green when choosing plants.

I used:
2 Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) 'The Pearl'
1 Gaultheria procumbens
6 white viola bedding plants
2 small variegated ivy plants (not edible!)

and potted with ericaceous compost because of the Lingonberries and the Gaultheria.

Lingonberries can be made into a delicious raw jam (see my previous post on jam-making in Sweden), and the plants are evergreen. They have delicate white flowers and the red berries look lovely as they ripen.

Gaultheria procumbens is also known as wintergreen. It is hardy, evergreen, and produces red berries, which can be eaten, with a slightly minty taste. The leaves have a characteristic 'wintergreen' flavour, and can be made into a tea or chewed (but not swallowed) to release their oils. The whole plant contains aspirin-like compounds.

Violas produce edible flowers.

Ivy is not edible, but it has medicinal and cosmetic uses - the leaves can be made into a hair rinse for example.

Other potential plants which could be used in a winter hanging basket include:

Pansies - edible flowers

Calluna vulgaris (heather) - flowers and shoots used in tea or to flavour beer

Any hardy salad greens such as Winter purslane (Claytonia), Lambs lettuce, Salad burnet and        winter lettuces.

Evergreen herbs such as Rosemary (prostrate forms would be good), winter savoury and Lavender (although these would need some protection in a severe winter).

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