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Originally published Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 6:15 AM

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A Mother’s Day hanging basket; cherry trees for containers

Garden writer Ciscoe Morris gives tips on creating a hanging basket as a Mother’s Day gift, and shares news of two new varieties of cherry trees that stay small.


Special to The Seattle Times

Gardening Events

Ciscoe’s Picks

Northwest Horticultural Society Lecture, ‘The Layered Garden,’ by David Culp: 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 14 (reception at 6:45 p.m.), 3501 N.E. 41st St., Seattle; $5 members, $10 nonmembers (www.northwesthort.org).

Heronswood Plant Sale, Tour and Garden Open: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, May 17, 7530 N.E. 288th St., Kingston; $10 to tour garden, free for members (www.heronswood.com).

Seattle Bamboo Festival and Plant Sale: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, May 17-18,

6000 16th Ave. S.W., Seattle (www.seattlechinesegarden.org).

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In the Garden

Surprise the living tweetle out of Mom by teaming up with the kids to make her a hanging basket for Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is generally considered the date when you can plant annuals without worrying about cold damage, and right now most nurseries have a great selection of annuals that work great in hanging baskets.

Begin by choosing a hanging basket that will match the décor of your house. While you’re at it, pick up some potting soil and soluble houseplant fertilizer. The fun part is choosing the plants. You might want to go with just one kind of plant, or you can mix and match to make a wildly colorful display.

Some outstanding sun-loving annuals such as Calibrachoa, verbena, petunia and nasturtium not only bloom nonstop all summer long, they also produce flowers that are highly attractive to hummingbirds. If you’re going to hang your basket in a shady location, hanging Fuchsias are good choices. Just remember to choose ones with single flowers if you want to attract hummingbirds. Most of the double flowered varieties produce little if any nectar.

Feel free to ask for help from the nursery experts if you need assistance picking plants that go well together. The main thing is that you and the kids will have a blast potting them up in the basket, and you’ll all learn a few gardening skills in the process. Best of all, Mom will love knowing you potted it up special just for her.

Grow cherries on your patio

Thanks to a breakthrough in breeding at the University of Saskatchewan, there are now dwarf, self-fertile cherry trees that can be easily grown in containers. Two outstanding varieties, Prunus “Romeo” and P. “Carmine Jewel,” are available at Lil Sprout Nursery in Mill Creek.

“Romeo” is a pie cherry that can easily be maintained at only 6 feet tall and wide, yet is purported to produce 10 to 20 pounds of fruit per season. Although it is billed as a pie cherry, the large, crimson, non-splitting fruit has such high sugar content it’s supposed to be sweet enough to eat fresh, right from the tree. “Romeo” is highly attractive as an ornamental tree as well. Each spring the branches are covered with a cloud of snow-white flowers, while in fall the leaves turn lovely shades of yellow before falling from the tree.

If you’re a fan of sweet cherries, you’ll prefer growing “Carmine Jewel” on your patio. This dwarf cultivar is noted for its large, non-splitting, delicious, purplish-red sweet cherries. Equally ornamental, the abundantly produced spring flowers on this cultivar are pink.

Both of these trees are hardy to at least 40 below. They can be planted in any sunny location, either in the garden or in a container at least half the size of a whiskey barrel, but growing one in a pot restricts root growth, making it easier to maintain the dwarf size. The only bummer is that you’ll have to wait a bit before you’ll get to enjoy your first cherry pie a la mode. It normally takes about three to four years before they begin to produce fruit in earnest.

Ciscoe Morris: ciscoe@ciscoe.com. “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING 5.



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